Nefesh, an Orthodox mental health organization, is hosting a conference on June 5th that will include a session that advocates for reparative therapy. Here is an excerpt from the abstract which describes the session:
We will review the clinical impact of these beliefs, present a developmental model for the development of SSA and bring clinical evidence for the possibility of change from SSA to healthy heterosexuality. A therapeutic approach to helping patients with unwanted SSA, which focuses on promoting general emotional well-being rather than on sexual attraction and behavior, will be presented.
The presenters carefully worded this so that there is no specific mention of reparative or conversion therapy. And if you skip the sentence I bolded above, you might think that this is just therapy to make patients who are “confused” come to a better emotional place.However, the bottom line is that they will “…bring clinical evidence for the possibility of change from SSA to healthy heterosexuality.” sounds like conversion therapy to me, which has been denounced by the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the American Psychiatric Association; the American Psychological Association; the American School Counselor Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Association of Social Workers. The abstract smartly adds the “therapeutic approach…which focuses on promoting general emotional well being rather than on sexual attraction and behavior…” but my question is, wouldn’t any good therapist worth his/her salt promote general emotional well being for any client who comes in to their office, if they are having unwanted (however one chooses to define that word) sexual feelings? In my opinion (and I’m assuming the opinion of those who signed the petition), the framing of this is very problematic. This is casting people’s sexual orientation as something that needs to be fixed.Some may argue that there may be people who are “confused about the way they feel” but once again I would hope that everyday therapy might help a person struggling with that type of struggle. For the vast majority of people who are often forced (by parents or Rabbis) into this kind of therapy, they are actually what they think they are (LGBT) and the psychological ramifications of this type of therapy can’t be underestimated.
The craziest part of this is, despite the fact that this session is about science that has been denounced and considered fraudulent by some, New York State is willing to give CEU’s to professionals who attend. Continuing Education credits are supposed to be given to professionals to keep current in their fields. This will accomplish the exact opposite.
Please sign this petition to demand that New York State not offer CEU credits for this session. The session itself is harmful enough, and I cringe at the thought of Orthodox mental health professionals being taught that this kind of therapy is ok. However, it adds insult to injury that New York State would consider this topic appropriate for Continuing Education.