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Opponents of therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction have no scientific backing

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A prominent US psychologist says professional bodies and parts of the UK media are attempting to stop mental health professionals offering help to people with unwanted same-sex attraction, based on ideological grounds and without any scientific evidence to support their case.

Dr. Philip M. Sutton, Director of the International Federation for Therapeutic Choice (IFTC) has written a 20-page academic analysis on the issue, entitled: “What the Research Does and Does Not Say: Is Therapeutic Support for Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions Harmful?”  His paper is being distributed to UK MPs and mental health professional bodies and is published on the website of Core Issues Trust, the Christian charity which represents people with unwanted homosexual desires.

Dr. Sutton concludes from his analysis that: “In the absence of clear, reliable and valid scientific evidence, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that professional organisations like the American Psychological Association, the UK Association of Christian Counsellors, various state and national government legislatures, and even media such as The Guardian, are working to prevent mental health professionals from offering educational guidance, counselling and therapeutic care for persons with unwanted same-sex attraction and behaviour based on ideological and not scientific or professional grounds.”

Core Issues Trust has challenged the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) to provide sight of peer-reviewed studies which show conclusively that help for people to move away from unwanted same-sex attraction is harmful.  The two bodies refuse to licence practitioners who want to offer therapies which can enable people to change their sexual orientation.

Dr. Mike Davidson, Director of Core Issues Trust, says that despite several official requests for scientific evidence that supports the professional bodies’ opposition to therapies for unwanted same-sex attraction, neither has provided any evidence.

Dr. Davidson and fellow counsellor, Lesley Pilkington, are clients of the Christian Legal Centre which has supported their bid for accreditation with the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC). The ACC has followed the policy of the RCP and UKCP in refusing to licence professional counsellors to provide help for people with unwanted same-sex attraction.  

“We are seeking a genuine debate around the issue of “harm” in relation to therapeutic support of efforts to change sexual orientation change efforts, whether these are about management, reduction or elimination of unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviours. So if the sceptics who govern the leading UK mental health bodies are truly interested in scientific debate and therapeutic choice as a foundational professional principle, I recommend that they read Dr. Sutton’s careful and comprehensive analysis.”

Dr. Davidson says that moving forward, it is necessary that national and world medical and mental health associations deal in a professionally responsible manner with the issue of therapeutic choice concerning unwanted same-sex attraction and do so with scientific integrity rather than taking an ideological standpoint.  He says persistent warnings from the professional bodies and supported by media organisations, that therapies have the potential to do harm, are misleading and do a disservice to the general public. To fail to provide individuals in opposite sex marriages, for example, with the opportunity to reduce or eliminate homosexual feelings, where possible, is a harmful prohibition denying autonomous individuals freedom of choice to preserve the marriages and families they value.

“In effect theprofessional bodies deceive the public when they warn there is potential for harm – given that all medical intervention has the potential to do harm – without qualifying the warning by indicating that there is no science to show the degree of risk from therapeutic help for unwanted same-sex attraction is greater, the same or less than the risk potential of all other psychotherapies.”

Read Dr. Sutton’s paper here >

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