Out of Harm's Way: Working Ethically with Same-sex Attracted Persons. Questions of harm, evidence and practice.-

  • Title: Out of Harm's Way: Working Ethically with Same-sex Attracted Persons. Questions of harm, evidence and practice.
  • Author:
  • Released: 2013-07-25
  • Language:
  • Pages: 69
  • ISBN:
  • ISBN13:
  • ASIN: B00E6B3JOI


Any therapist in the UK offering to help a client to reduce unwanted same-sex attraction can now expect to be struck off the register of their professional body. Why should this be? The primary reason is that all therapies geared to such a goal are now alleged to be ‘harmful’. Why should therapy for this one condition – unwanted same-sex attraction – be singled out as being unethical? Could it be a matter of ideology rather than science? O’Callaghan and Davidson investigate issues of harm, the attendant ethical considerations, the use of evidence in assessing these questions and several practice issues in working ethically with this group.

No therapeutic intervention is entirely without risk, and the range of conditions for which therapists offer help may be ranked conceptually in terms of risk of harm, from the least to the most risky. At one end of the spectrum, a man may seek help to overcome his nerves in making a speech at his daughter’s wedding. At the other, a man may feel that he is actually a woman ‘trapped in a man’s body’, and may be offered help even to the point of having major surgery and being given hormone treatment to achieve his life goals – with clearly serious potential risks should all not go according to plan.

This study highlights the fact that despite consistent efforts by mental health institutions to insist that therapeutic support for individuals seeking to reduce homosexual feelings and fantasies is necessarily harmful, this is not supported in scientific studies – from a range of perspectives. The Shidlo and Schroeder (2002), Spitzer (2001/3) and Jones and Yarhouse (2007/11) studies are examined together with the impression of harmfulness that the APA (2009) Task Force study gives, but fails to substantiate in anything but an ideological perspective that dominates this important question.

The book argues that what is needed is an honest admission that the likelihood of harm resulting from ethical therapies to reduce same-sex attractions has been grossly exaggerated, to the detriment of those who have the legitimate life goal of seeking to reduce such attractions, for whatever reason.

About the Author
Dermot O’Callaghan, MA (Cantab) Studied Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge University and, after five years in industry, spent his working career as a management consultant in a variety of sectors, including mental health. In his retirement he has taken an interest in the way that science in recent decades has sought to understand the causes and consequences of same-sex attraction. He has followed with interest the ways in which science has been used (and sometimes misused) in society’s debates and in the shaping of social policy, including the increasingly robust actions of mental health professional bodies to prevent even a married man from being helped to reduce his unwanted same-sex attractions in order to save his marriage.

Dermot is married, with one son and two grandchildren. He is a member of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. He is a Council of Reference member of Core Issues Trust.

Michael Davidson, PhD (Rhodes) is co-director of Core Issues Trust, a Christian charity initiative supporting individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) and those who support them. He has worked in higher education for most of his life. He trained for the pastoral ministry, and was ordained in 1984. He also trained as a secondary school teacher. He worked in teacher training for more than a decade, before a career in academic staff and researcher development units in three UK Universities. Most recently he was in training as a psychodrama psychotherapist. In 2012 he was placed under investigation by his professional body for expressing the view on the BBC that individuals wishing to move from homosexuality should be supported by professionals, where possible, and in 2013 was removed from the register. pdf
0 Comment

Posted by