Search results ({{ }}):

Dr. Sheldon’s Psychotherapeutic Intervention Model for SSA

Dr. Sheldon’s basic opinions regarding SSA and psychotherapeutic interventions (for more info on Dr. Sheldon click here).

the.guard Friday, 01 April 2011

Treatment of SSA – Same Sex Attraction - Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Bisexuality

The issues and understanding of SSA and the psychological and behavioral treatments of SSA are many and complex. The laws of the Department of Health as well as the guidelines of professional associations, such as the APA (American Psychological Association) are also complex. It is important to state clearly that there are times when any kind of “treatment” regarding SSA (Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Bisexuality) are inappropriate and can be dangerous. There have been cases where patients have committed suicide related to inappropriate treatment of SSA. Therefore, it is essential that professionals, and those considering seeking advice in dealing with the issues of sexuality, clearly understand the issues of homosexuality. Unfortunately, there are licensed professional who do not properly understand the issues, and perhaps even worse, there are many people who are “treating” homosexuals, without professional degrees or any license whatsoever.

There are many reasons why a person could have an attraction to the same sex –including: physiological, hormonal, genetic, social, political, philosophical, aesthetic, and others. To consider SSA to be always a psychological illness is absolutely wrong and potentially dangerous. Telling a person that there is something fundamentally wrong with him or her – when there is not – can break a person.

On the other hand, I believe that there are times when certain life events affect the sexual desire and preference of individuals, and this is a different situation than one who is homosexual due to other factors, such as physiological ones.

For example, I worked with a woman in my office in Los Angles (I practiced for twenty years in LA before making Aliyah) who was once heterosexual and became lesbian after having been raped by a man. She came to my office and explained that she wanted to get married, have children, and raise a family, and that she did not want to live a lesbian life-style. In this case the trauma that she experienced caused a change in sexual orientation. Through the treatment, healing, and resolution of this trauma she returned to being heterosexual in her sexual preference, fell in love with a man, married, and continued her life in the sexual path that she wanted to be on.

In another example, I worked with a happily married man who had children with his wife and a good relationship with her emotionally and sexually. However, he complained that he had an attraction to men that he would see at the health club, he never acted upon this attraction, he did not understand why he had it, and he wanted to know if he could stop experiencing this attraction. We utilized hypnosis in order to discover the source of his attraction for men. It turned out that when he was a young boy, his cousin seduced him, (there was no intercourse, but there was sexual play) and he enjoyed the sexual feelings, and at the same time experienced conflict, because he felt that there was something wrong with what was happening. Upon resolving the conflict, and helping him to not feel guilty about enjoying the sexual experience – which was natural for him to have - and to accept himself in a healthy way, the attraction for men simply ceased.

I helped a young man whose first sexual experience was in a dormitory full of boys. Of course it felt good. In addition, because of his religious background, he had no contact with girls. In addition he came from a family with very poor role models of masculinity and femininity. He was very insecure about what it was to be a man, and realized that he developed a need to please men sexually so that they would approve of him, as from his perspective only a man could make him feel like a man (and a woman, not being a man, simply did not have the authority to confirm that he is a man.). We worked on a number of different issues and he discovered that he could really enjoy relating with a woman on all levels.

I helped a teenage girl with an unwanted sexual attraction to girls, which was an expression of her disgust sexually towards men, which was a result of her friend’s father molesting her. It is certainly understandable that a person would have an aversion to or lack of sexual attraction towards a person of the opposite sex, after being sexually abused. It is also understandable that such a person may develop a sexual attraction towards a caring supportive interesting and sexually attractive person of the same sex.

Sometimes, certain very unhealthy family dynamics can influence sexual preferences, this topic is too complex to discuss here. Obviously, it is appropriate to help individuals who have been adversely affected by such family experiences, regardless of any SSA issues that may arise. Sometimes the resolution of such difficulties also facilitates changes in the dynamics of sexual attraction.

Again, I want to emphasize that in the above examples of SSA (same sex attraction) the attraction is in relationship to a traumatic event and the reaction to that traumatic event. In such cases it is often appropriate and very helpful and healing to help the patient overcome, heal, and resolve the trauma and the negative or unwanted results from that trauma.

These situations are very different from working with individuals who have SSA because of other reasons. The appropriateness of treatment or intervention, as well as the type of intervention needs to be based on many inter-related factors regarding any individual person who experiences SSA. Sometimes SSA is completely appropriate, even though from a Halachic or Religious perspective it is forbidden to have certain kinds of sexual-physical relationships and activities. In such situations, the person seeking help, or the people who are trying to convince this person that he or she needs help, need to understand that it can be painful and harmful at the least, and extremely dangerous and even life threatening at the most., to cause the individual with SSA, to think or feel there is something wrong with their basic self of inner experience, as a human being.

Dr. Sheldon’s Approach in the psychological treatment of individuals who have SSA.

The first aspect of treatment is to ascertain what the needs of the person with SSA are. I have purposefully NOT referred to this person as a “Patient” due to the fact that usually the word “patient” defines the person as being sick. Often the person being labeled a patient is not “sick”, and it can be harmful to the “person” in consideration, to label him or her a patient, when that label is inappropriate. (In fact, sometimes it is the person trying to place the label on this person who needs professional help – but that is an issue for a separate article.) I will, therefore, refer to the person seeking help related to SSA as the “client.”

It is essentially important for the SSA client to have a healthy relationship with himself or herself. This includes: self-respect, self-love, self-awareness, dignity, and a healthy relationship with his/her thoughts and feelings.

It is important to understand the reasons for the SSA. Sometimes the reason(s) are clear and obvious, and sometimes the client has no idea where this attraction comes from. Self-awareness and understanding are very important. Often I utilize hypnotherapy to help the client and me understand what the inner issues and dynamics are, including discovering if there were traumatic experiences or other considerations related to having SSA. Sometimes a person just has a natural attraction for the same sex, in a very natural way, even though it may appear to be unnatural to others. In this situation,all of the issues are considered and discussed in order to evaluate and decide which approaches are best in relating with the current realities.This is accomplished together within the therapist-client partnership.

Part of this evaluation includes identifying and deciding upon therapeutic goals (if any).

If the client has SSA because of genetic-hormonal-physiological considerations, the help needed is very different than the help that is needed when SSA results from sexual molestation or rape or from simply personal choice and preference.