The Political Struggle Over Therapeutic Rights

This month, President Obama spoke out to condemn therapy for minors seeking help for unwanted SSA (same-sex attractions). However, fifteen states have resisted Obama's intentions and rejected any such bans.

Counselor Christopher Doyle, of the political lobbying group Equality And Justice For All, says those who voluntarily seek therapy often do so as a result of sexual abuse, and should have access to the help they seek. The therapy does not involve electric shocks, shaming the client, or nausea-inducing drugs, as the anti-therapy law's supporters claim. "President Obama is wrong" in attempting to deny youth access to treatment, he says.

“The whole premise of Mr. Obama’s statement—calling this counseling ‘conversion’ therapy is a misnomer,” Doyle said. “Youth that seek therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions or gender identity conflicts believe there are specific causes for their attractions, such as sexual abuse, and this therapy helps them resolve those causes and the desires that are a consequence. Counselors are not converting gay youth—they’re actually affirming their clients’ desires to live a heterosexual life. These laws would be a grave disservice to young people who wish to access counseling from licensed mental health care providers. No government intervention should seek to hinder this sincere desire for help.”

Doyle went on to describe the case of a transgender youth named "Leelah," cited by Obama as an example of the therapy, who committed suicide:

“Leelah’s is a very sad story, and we may never know everything about her individual and unique situation. Our hearts go out to Leelah’s family. But there are many other sexually confused youth and questioning teens who would like the option of therapy that will help them resolve unwanted feelings and sexual attractions. To deny them access to licensed mental health care is unconscionable.  It’s without excuse that this White House would rather keep these young people trapped in their struggle than allow them voluntarily to get help.”

Doyle pointed out that, in spite of the call for a national law banning talk therapy for minors, last year, 15 states across the country rejected similar bills, and already this year, Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, Iowa and several others have voted down these bills. The Colorado Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee also recently rejected a proposed bill there that would have banned therapy for minors.

A number of mental health professionals support the rights of youth to receive Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) therapy, including the American Association of Christian Counselors, the Alliance for Scientific Integrity and Therapeutic Choice, the Catholic Medical Association, the American College of Pediatricians, International Network of Orthodox (Jewish) Mental Health Professionals and the Christian Medical & Dental Association.

In a recent interview in the New York Times, counselor David Pickup, M.A. urged Mr. Obama to “wake up and understand the rights of people who he doesn’t know anything about" who "need his help and need his compassion.”


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