from Clinical/Therapeutic Issues
Some therapists say "yes"; others say "I don't know"; others say "sometimes." When NARTH interviewed one well-known psychoanalyst, for example, he said he didn't know what normal was. "To be a psychoanalyst," he said, "you must accept the idea that every theory is questionable."
We have heard the following points-of-view, ranging from that of the sexual-reorientation therapist, to the gay-affirmative therapist:
Therapist #1--"I believe homosexuality represents a developmental disorder. While a gay man may consciously accept his condition, on the deepest levels of self, such an identity is ultimately irreconcilable. Homosexuality is contrary to every man's true nature. Therefore I'll only work with a client if he wants to pursue change, because that is the only therapeutic goal of which I can be supportive."
Therapist #2-- "I don't know if homosexuality is a disorder--who am I to judge what is normal or abnormal? Some gays live healthy, well-adapted, productive lives...so who am I to introject my values and say the condition is unhealthy?
I'm flexible...I'm willing to work with the client either way--it's a question of whatever HE wants. And I think any therapist who CAN'T work with the client both ways is bordering on being unethical by severely limiting the client's future choices."
Therapist #3-- "It's true--homosexuality develops mostly through less-than-ideal parenting; the homosexual typically fails to fully gender-identify in relationship with the same-sex parent. But once the client has made this adaptation, he can't change. We should help him see 'gay as good' and adjust to the way he's developed. This is the most practical and humane response. Society and organized religion should stop judging homosexual behavior as immoral--they are not being compassionate.
Feeling comfortable--enjoying good sex----accepting oneself as one is--all make far more sense than trying to fulfill some difficult and probably impossible heterosexual ideal. In fact, if a client wants to work toward sexual-orientation change, I will actively try to talk him out of it."
Therapist #4-- "We'll spend a lot of time investigating if the client is really homosexual, or just going through a homosexual episode. If this is just an episode--as many cases are--I'll help him work through it and resolve the conflicts that caused the episode.
But if he's really homosexual, I know there's no hope for change--so I'll reinforce the idea in the client that "gay is good."
Therapist #5-- "I'm not willing to make any judgments about heterosexuality being "the way man was intended to be"--and I don't think any other therapist should, either. Who am I to be philosophizing? If he is "comfortable" with his orientation, then I'd say "that means it's not disordered for you." But I'm flexible--I will help him develop his heterosexual responsiveness if he wants to,.
Helping him change does not imply a value judgment on my part. My therapy is values-neutral. Helping the client change does not mean I'm homophobic, because after all--we are all born with a natural bisexual capacity which can be developed."
Therapist #6-- "If a client is homosexual, the only ethical treatment is to help him live a satisfying gay life. He was born gay and will always be gay. If he wants to change, I'll tell him he's brainwashed himself through homophobia internalized from society--because gay is good, it's unchangeable, and it's completely normal. He's making a terrible mistake to even think of changing who he really is, and no therapist should conspire with him in such a self-hating and utterly hopeless venture."