Conversion Therapy for SSA
Question: I know conversion therapy is highly controversial and deemed unhelpful and unhealthy in the mental health field. What do you think about it?
Dovid, a GYE volunteer, responds:
Thanks for sharing the question and I am glad to answer the question from my perspective and experience.
Conversion therapy is a complex and controversial issue. Most people associate it with locking people in rooms, electric shocking them, screaming at them, making them hate their parents, etc. That approach to conversion therapy is not something I would ever promote or agree with. When approached that way, they are right, it is unhelpful and even harmful, and I would never condone such behavior.
That said, I do believe in and have benefited myself quite a bit from programs like "Journey into Manhood" and the like, which are not conversion therapy or reparative therapy, but are often labeled as such. Those programs have a belief that same sex attraction is most often the result of a brokeness, or a past that has caused either an overidentification with the feminine or a struggle with one's place in the male community.
Working through those issues does allow a person to significantly minimize the hold that same sex attraciton can have over them. That doesn't mean that 100% of people will be able to get rid of their attraction to other men (or women to other women for that matter), but what it does mean is that they will be able to work with their issue by understanding where it originates, and what they are seeking in the "other". They can then try to find the same in healthy ways instead.
In most cases, when people do the work around their past, their same sex attraction does diminish and a healthy flourishing relationship with the opposite sex can ensue. Just like any past traumatic experience, the impact of the work will only be as effective as what you put into it...
Even with all that, I find that there are some men that still struggle with understanding / accepting the process because it's often hard for men to see their past as a brokenness, especially if they had a good relationship with their parent/s - even if it was an unhealthy one. And as a result, the whole process gets thrown out as "Gay Conversion Therapy" that doesn't work.
Lastly, there is a movie that came out recently called "Boy Erased". That brought a lot of attention to conversion therapy and its lack of effect. The truth though, is not so black and white. Firstly, the story was dramatized for TV and secondly, they did use tactics in the movie that are abusive and which I would never agree with or condone.
I hope this answers the question.
I'd be glad to discuss further at firstname.lastname@example.org.