Two months ago I met Michael King of University College London for the first time and was impressed by the authority of the research he has carried out.
He has just published research in the BMC Psychiatry journal which attracted interest yesterday – Premier Radio recorded a quick interview with me. The study surveyed 1,400 medical professionals. It revealed that a sixth of registered British therapists and psychiatrists have attempted to "cure" patients of homosexuality. It also found that there is very little evidence that therapy can really help change whether a person is lesbian, gay or bisexual.
I trained as a psychotherapist, and what the 16% are doing is in my view unprofessional and abusive. A therapist should never have an agenda for the client nor allow him or herself to collude with a client’s perspective simply because it coincides with their own.
Reparative therapy is based on the belief that to be gay or lesbian is wrong, or to act on emotional and sexual desires is in all circumstances wrong for a Christian. If a client feels guilty about being gay or having had sexual encounters with another man, then it is the client’s feelings and experience and reactions that are the content of the therapy, not helping them suppress or deny their own sexuality. Reparative therapy, or colluding with a client who has internalized guilt about homosexuality from church teaching, is always wrong and can be abuse and very damaging to a person’s well being and healing.
As Professor King says, there is nothing whatever pathological about being lesbian or gay. Christians are wrong if they believe that to be homosexual is contrary to the will of God, full stop.
Professor King’s work is of great help to the work and message of Changing Attitude and contributes to the resources available to us in Changing Church attitudes.