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Christian therapist faces expulsion for views on homosexuality

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A Christian psychotherapist is the subject of a professional conduct inquiry in London for supporting therapy for those with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction.

Dr Davidson is a trainee with the British Psychodrama Association (BPA) and also a director of Core Issues Trust, a non-profit Christian ministry supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression.

Background to complaint

He took part in a BBC local radio broadcast in January 2012. As a result of comments he made about homosexuality, the BBC interviewer – among others – complained to Dr Davidson’s professional body.

In response to a question, Dr Davidson said: “yes I do believe homosexuality is a sin.”

The initial charges against Dr Davidson were purely against the expression of his views and therefore an issue of free speech rather than his ethical conduct as a therapist. The correspondence Dr Davidson received demonstrates this.

Reaction

The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the BPA wrote to Dr Davidson on 22 January 2012: “your comments breach UKCP’s [United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy] Ethical Principles and Codes of Professional Conduct.”

The Chair of the BPA then wrote to Dr Davidson on 29 January, saying he was suspended because of “the views expressed by yourself.”

"Ethically sound"

Concerning Dr Davidson’s ethical conduct, correspondence from his supervisors indicate that he is above reproach. In a letter to the Professional Conduct Committee of the BPA on 3 April 2012, Dr Robert Moore stated: “Throughout [the period of Dr Davidson’s training] I had no concerns about Mike’s ability as a sensitive and caring therapist and his desire to do his best for his clients.

“… Mike wanted to complete the psychodrama training programme out of his desire to work as ethically as possible.

“… If Mike were to be reinstated on the psychodrama programme then I would have no hesitation in continuing with the supervision as contracted”.

Similarly, Dr Davidson’s supervisor from October 2009 to March 2011, Peter Mulhall, wrote on 1st May 2012 to the BPA: “In my opinion, Dr Davidson has always been very mindful of ethical issues and has striven to be an ethically sound therapist.

“…It would be unfortunate if such a highly motivated student were not allowed to complete his training because of pressure from outside, socially driven agendas from people who have not experienced Dr Davidson as either a trainee or as a therapist in training”.

"Homophobia"

In direct contrast to these testimonials from people who had worked with Mike, the former Chair of the UKCP, Dr Andrew Samuels, was quoted by the UKCP on 27 January 2012 as saying: “This isn’t about respecting religious belief or freedom of speech. Those are just smokescreens. This is really about homophobia – fear and hatred of sexual minorities.

“… It is vital that people don’t get fooled by expressions of love and support for gays and lesbians emanating from the Core Issues Trust”.

Yet in Peter Mulhall’s letter to the BPS he specifically states: “I have never heard Dr Davidson make statements that were homophobic, nor have I heard him try to impose his beliefs over another’s, including his clients”.

Dr Davidson had always been open and honest about his interest in and support for therapy dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction.

Evidence

Concerning evidence regarding the evidence for the effectiveness of therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction, one of the leading US textbooks on psychotherapy comments: “…recent empirical evidence demonstrates that homosexual orientation can indeed be therapeutically changed in motivated clients, and that reorientation therapies do not produce emotional harm when attempted” (Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment3rd ed., Maxmen, Jerrold S., Ward, Nicholas G. & Kilgus, Mark D.; New York, W.W. Norton, 2009).

In his letter to the BPA concerning Dr Davidson, Dr Moore stated: “…As a committed researcher Mike follows the outcome studies with rigour and is not given to misusing research in a dishonest way to bolster some argument. I am convinced that he will be led by the findings, which in his opinion are as yet uncertain”.

Legal Support

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Dr Davidson in his response to the PCC Inquiry.

Director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams, commented:

“There is a clear lack of tolerance for Mike’s Christian beliefs about sexual ethics. The views of the BPA and UKCP amount to an attempt to rule on and control what he can believe as an individual.

“Mike has always been open about his interest in and support for therapy which deals with unwanted same-sex attraction. Those who have worked most closely with him testify to his professionalism and ethical conduct.

“The BPA and UKCP’s attempt to ban those with Christian beliefs on sexual ethics from being therapists is the real unethical conduct here.

“Along with the case of Lesley Pilkington, we are witnessing a worrying trend where the door to practising professional therapy is being closed to people with Christian sexual ethics”.

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