Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mat Staver really is an imbecile

It should come as no surprise that Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, doesn't quite grasp the concept of ethical obligations. After all, his law license is very much in jeopardy for his aiding and abetting a kidnapping in the Lisa Miller affair.

Licensed therapists should have no difficulty with California's new law that prohibits them from performing reparative "therapy" on minors. It's usually the parents who need therapy in order to accept their gay kids for who they are. What is so difficult about telling people that reorientation doesn't work and is potentially harmful?

Logic and fact never seem to deter Staver. Nor does he seem to appreciate the fact that every mainstream medical association determined years ago that offering reorientation "therapy" is unethical per se .* Nevertheless, according to Staver:
January 1, 2013, when this law goes into effect, counselors will be faced with a 'Catch 22.' If someone comes to them seeking counseling to manage and to deal with these same-sex attractions, then they ultimately     if they do not counsel them or do not refer them     they're violating the ethical code, because they're not giving their counsel to the client or their information the client could ultimately use to benefit their situation. On the other hand, if they counsel them, or if they refer them to a counselor regarding change therapy, then they are also in violation of the ethical codes under this newly passed law.
* The American Academy of Pediatrics advises youth that counseling may be helpful for you if you feel confused about your sexual identity. Avoid any treatments that claim to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation, or treatment ideas that see homosexuality as a sickness.

The American Counseling Association adopted a resolution in 1998 stating that it opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation; and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based on ignorance or unfounded beliefs about same-gender sexual orientation.9 Further, in April 1999, the ACA Governing Council adopted a position opposing the promotion of “reparative therapy” as a “cure” for individuals who are homosexual. In addition, ACA’s Code of Ethics states:

Counselors use techniques/procedures/modalities that are grounded in theory and/or have an empirical or scientific foundation. Counselors who do not must define the techniques/procedures as “unproven” or “developing” and explain the potential risks and ethical considerations of using such techniques/procedures and take steps to protect clients from possible harm.

The American Psychiatric Association, in its 2000 position statement on “reparative” therapy, states:

Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or “repair” homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of “cures” are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, “reparative” therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, [the American Psychiatric Association] recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm. The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed. Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.

The American Psychological Association, in its 1997 Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, which is also endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists, states:

That the American Psychological Association opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation and mental health and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based in ignorance or unfounded beliefs about sexual orientation.

The American School Counselor Association, in its position statement on professional school counselors and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning youth, states:  

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) youth often begin to experience self-identification during their pre-adolescent or adolescent years, as do heterosexual youth. These developmental processes are essential cognitive, emotional and social activities, and although they may have an impact on student development and achievement, they are not a sign of illness, mental disorder or emotional problems nor do they necessarily signify sexual activity. . . . It is not the role of the professional school counselor to attempt to change a student’s sexual orientation/gender identity but instead to provide support to LGBTQ students to promote student achievement and personal well-being. . . . Recognizing that sexual orientation is not an illness and does not require treatment, professional school counselors may provide individual student planning or responsive services to LGBTQ students to promote self-acceptance, deal with social acceptance, understand issues related to “coming out,” including issues that families may face when a student goes through this process, and identify appropriate community resources.

The National Association of Social Workers, in its policy statement on lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues, states that it; endorses policies in both the public and private sectors that ensure nondiscrimination; that are sensitive to the health and mental health needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people; and that promote an understanding of lesbian, gay, and bisexual cultures. Social stigmatization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people is widespread and is a primary motivating factor in leading some people to seek sexual orientation changes. Sexual orientation conversion therapies assume that homosexual orientation is both pathological and freely chosen. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful. NASW believes social workers have the responsibility to clients to explain the prevailing knowledge concerning sexual orientation and the lack of data reporting positive outcomes with reparative therapy. NASW discourages social workers from providing treatments designed to change sexual orientation or from referring practitioners or programs that claim to do so. NASW reaffirms its stance against reparative therapies and treatments designed to change sexual orientation or to refer practitioners or programs that claim to do so.

As these statements make clear, the nation’s leading professional medical, health, and mental health organizations do not support efforts to change young people’s sexual orientation through therapy and have raised serious concerns about the potential harm from such efforts.Many of the professional associations listed in the Resources section (pp. 17–19) can provide helpful information and local contacts to assist school administrators, health and mental health professionals, educators, teachers, and parents in dealing with school controversies in their communities.
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