Change Therapy

While some individuals with sexual confusion experience a spontaneous return to heterosexual orientation, others deliberately change with the assistance of various gender-affirming processes or change therapies. There are many forms of therapeutic modalities in use for same-sex attraction issues, most of which focus on underlying issues in a very conventional mental health approach. For example, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has been successful in resolving trauma-based cases of homosexuality triggered by sexual abuse. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used by some therapists in which the focus is on behavioral changes. Psychoanalysis is used to focus on understanding on an intellectual level while Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) stresses a focus on emotional issues. Imago therapy is used by some to examine issues from the past. Religiously mediated change focuses less on the psychological implications and more on one’s relationship with God and behavioral change to conform to Biblical understandings of the Commandments concerning sexuality. Often, a counselor will use a combination of modalities.

Reorientation therapy also known as reparative therapy takes a psychoanalytic approach to same-sex attraction by analyzing family and peer dynamics and combines such approach with a focus on accessing one’s emotional responses. The term reparative therapy was popularized by therapist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. He uses this term as an explanation of what homosexual behavior is: An attempt to “repair” emotional and identification hurts and deficits through sex. The client coming into session for the first time finds consolation in the understanding that the behavior he feels so ashamed of is really driven by best intentions but misdirected into self-defeating behavior. Gay activists prefer not to recognize this and rather characterize the therapy as an attempt to “repair” the gay person. Both change therapy and religiously-mediated change have proven to be safe and effective.

Treatment success for patients seeking to change unwanted homosexuality and develop their heterosexual potential has been documented in the professional and research literature since the late 19th century.  A landmark review of 125 years of clinical and scientific reports on therapy for homosexuality draws three major conclusions: (1) There is substantial evidence that sexual orientation may be changed through reorientation therapy.  (2) Efforts to change sexual orientation have not been shown to be consistently harmful or to regularly lead to greater self-hatred, depression, and other self-destructive behaviors.  (3) There is significantly greater medical, psychological, and relational pathology in the homosexual population than the general population.1


Additional information on therapy:


[1] National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the APA Claims on Homosexuality. (Amazon link 1.20.14).


Throckmorton W. “Attempts to Modify Sexual Orientation: A Review of Outcome Literature and Ethical Issues.” Journal of Mental Health. Vol 20, October 1998 (pp.283-304). (accessed 3/18/10).

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