Overcoming Homosexual Urges
At Marriage Debate, José made the quote below. In the next comment, Lynn indicated she didn't know what the quote meant, so I replied:
As you mentioned, José said: The APA, recognizes the right of the patient to self-determination in selecting therapy to overcome unwanted homosexual urges.
This is a great example of quote mining, taking a quote out of context to make it seem to mean exactly the opposite of what the author meant. The APA defines obsessive-compulsive disorders like excessive hand washing. This would also include a compulsion to have sex. This is found to effect gays and straights alike. The person becomes obsessed in thinking about these behaviors and feels compelled to engage in these activities excessively, even thought they may not want to or enjoy doing what they are doing.
Hidden, irrational fears drive these behaviors. Therapy brings these fears to the surface where they can be dealt with successfully. The desired outcome is to reduce thoughts of these behaviors and their incidence to a more typical level. We still need to wash our hands regularly, after all.
So we see that the quoted APA statement is true. Yet we see that it would apply to heterosexuals too, and in fact anyone who has the urge to do any behavior to an excessive degree. Notice too that it doesn't say "eliminate" these urges. Therapy is to bring the frequency into the normal range, not to eliminate these behaviors all together.
Does the APA allow therapists to help clients "overcome unwanted homosexual urges?" Yes it does.
Does the APA allow therapists to help clients change their innate sexual orientation? From the APA web page about sexual orientation:
Can Therapy Change Sexual Orientation?
No. Even though most homosexuals live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may seek to change their sexual orientation through therapy, sometimes pressured by the influence of family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable.
That conversion therapy is both harmful to the patient and an unethical practice for the therapist is a fact about which we should all become more aware.