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Is Treating Homosexuality Ethical And Effective

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Homosexuality reorientation therapy is a controversial topic. Its effectiveness as well as the ethics involved stir up much debate. Since homosexuality is not an illness, "The American Psychological Association reiterated the 'long-standing official position that homosexuality and bisexuality are not mental disorders, (APA, 1998)" (Slife, 2004), can it be treated? If it can, how, and under what circumstances it should be used, are important questions.

Before discussing treatment, original orientation must be understood. "Kinsey suggests that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum from exclusively homosexual (Kinsey rating "6") to exclusively heterosexual (Kinsey rating"0") (House and Miller, 1997)" (Slife, 2004). There are many things to look at and consider when trying to define one's sexuality. The first is identity, or self-labeling, whether a person calls themselves, gay, lesbian or bisexual. The second factor to consider is behavior; does the person have sexual contact with members of the same gender? The third is basic orientation. It is defined as the person's immediate sexual attractions and experiences of romantic love. These feelings are focused on members of the same gender (Evans, 2003). Sexual orientation is not always expressed in one's behavior (APA, 2005). There are questions as to whether the concept of sexual orientation is at all valid. Being gay, lesbian, or bisexual has a different meaning to everyone (Slife, 2004).

"There are numerous theories about the origins of a person's sexual orientation; most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality. In summary, it is important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people" (APA, 2005). The nature versus nurture conflict of homosexuality plays a huge role in the entire basis of one's sexuality. Neither side, nature versus nurture, has been proven. Many feel that sexuality is a combination of both.

It is believed by members of the American Counseling Association that "Efforts to assist homosexually oriented individuals who wish to modify their patterns of sexual arousal have been effective, can be conducted in an ethical manner, and should be available to those clients requesting such assistance (Slife, 2004). I someone is seeking help, it should not be refused. No one should tell someone that what it is they are seeking for themselves is wrong.

Human beings can not choose to be either gay or straight. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed (APA, 2005). Without a more certain way to objectively determine sexual orientation, outcomes should be determined by self-assessment of clients (Throckmorton, 2005). Some psychologists believe that whether homosexuality is a disorder is not relevant. "Psychotherapy is appropriate when applied to unwanted behaviors and unhappy constructions, rather than to so-called abnormal disorders" (Nicolosi, 2005).

One direction taken by reorientation therapists is that gay men or lesbians feel inadequate in their masculine or feminine identities, respectively. They therefore desire support and companionship from same-sex partners because they missed such gender-role affirmation while they were children. Because of this, they misunderstand the desire for affirmation from the same-sex as being sexual attraction. In this form of treatment, whenever clients feel a sexual or romantic attraction for someone of the same gender, they are encouraged to believe that such attractions are not really sexual but are wishes for friendship. These therapists often encourage that women take cooking or sewing classes and men to participate in team sports or groups to develop their true feminine or masculine identity (Evans, 2003). If one can embrace these identities, then it is believed that they will have healthy sexual lives and views.

Therapists and Psychologists who practice these therapies argue that clients who want to change should not be told that they cannot; thus, it is not certain that they are settled on a fixed trait (Slife, 2004). Some patients who enter therapy with a wide range of unhappy constructions and attitudes toward their sexuality, learn to redefine themselves and their sexuality, and thus enhance their potential (Nicolosi, 2005).

Conversion therapy is a term used to designate an array of counseling techniques designed to effect a shift in sexual preference (Throckmorton, 2005). Reports of patients seem to show positive results from treatment, even if there is no change in sexual orientation (Slife, 2004). Those who request conversion therapy often do so because of conflict between their homosexual feelings and the culture surrounding them. Counselors who practice conversion therapy attempt to understand the cultural background of clients who have deep conflicts over sexual impulses and deeply held moral convictions. Counselors are required to inform clients of the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations and potential risks (Slife, 2004).

Whether therapy is successful is solely up to the patients themselves. A large percentage of the clients who saw themselves as exclusively homosexual prior to therapy rated themselves as either "exclusively" or "predominantly" heterosexual at the time of the study (Throckmorton, 2005). It is hard to determine a specific quantitative value of homosexuality. Homosexuality has been defined as a Kinsey rating of 4 or higher (Slife, 2004). Even with this number, how do you define the numerical category one fits into?

Reorientation therapy is sought out for many different reasons. Healthy family life is a large concern and stated reason for conversion therapy. Despite these worries, a healthy family life is not harmed in a same-sex parent home. "The outcome of a study that compared adolescents brought up by same sex couples with those brought up by opposite sex couples indicated no differences between the two groups on measures of psychosocial adjustment, school outcomes, romantic relationships, sexual behavior, relationship with parents and school adjustment"



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