Skip to main content

Deconstructing Reparative Therapy: An Examination of the Processes Involved When Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation

An Erratum to this article was published on 25 September 2012

Abstract

Reparative therapy is a process through which reparative therapists believe they can and should make heterosexuals out of homosexuals. At the present time, most professional regulating bodies have banned the use of reparative therapy. In addition, reparative therapy is not supported by any reliable quantitative or qualitative studies. In spite of the lack of empirical substantiation, reparative therapists continue to practice, arguing that prior quantitative studies, as well as client self-determination, validate their methods. With a knowledge base originally grounded in psychoanalytic theory, current applications of reparative therapy cross not only scientific and psychological, but also social, political, and religious boundaries. The current trend promoting reparative therapy occurs through the conglomeration of the social, political, and religious dimensions of organizations that champion the cause of creating former homosexuals. Persons who identify as former homosexuals espouse the saving graces of a mixture of reparative therapy with various forms of religious counseling, on occasion offered by faith-based providers. The purpose of this paper is shed new light on the process and theory behind reparative therapy. This paper will attempt to provide social work clinicians with the knowledge necessary to understand and formulate an informed opinion about the use of reparative therapy for homosexuality.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  • Bechtel, P. M. (Ed.) (1981). The imitation of Christ: Thomas a Kempis. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cho¨ dro¨ n, P. (2002). Comfortable with uncertainty: 108 teachings. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

    Google Scholar 

  • Drescher, J. (2001). Ethical concerns raised when patients seek to change same-sex attractions. In A. Shidlo, M. Schroeder, & J. Drescher, Sexual conversion therapy: Ethical, clinical and research perspectives (pp. 181–210). New York, NY: The Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Drescher, J. (1999). The therapist's authority and the patient's sexuality. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 3(2), 61–81.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Duckworth, P. & Wells, B. (2002). What the Bible says about homosexuality. In K. Van Wormer, J. Wells, & M. Boes. Social work with lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: A strengths perspective. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellis, A., Highleyman, L., Schaub, K., & White, M. (Eds.) (2002). The harvey milk insti-tute guide to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer internet research. Bing-hamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Einstein, A. (1916, 1961). Relativity: The special and the general theory. New York, NY: Random House.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Friedman, R. C. (1988). Male homosexuality: A contemporary psychoanalytic perspective. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gonsiorek, J. C. & Rudolph, J. (1991). Homosexual identity: Coming out and other devel-opmental events. In A. Shidlo, M. Schroeder, & J. Drescher, (2001). Sexual conversion therapy: Ethical, clinical, and research perspectives. New York, NY: Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haldeman, D. C. (1999). The pseudo-science of sexual orientation conversion therapy. The Policy Journal of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, 4(1), 1–4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haldeman, D. C. (2001). Therapeutic antidotes: Helping gay and bisexual me recover from conversion therapies. In A. Shidlo, M. Schroeder, and J Drescher, Sexual conversion therapy: Ethical, clinical, and research perspectives. New York, NY: Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Herek, G. (1999). “Reparative therapy” and other attempts to alter sexual orientation: A background paper, pp. 1–4.

  • Hicks, K. A. (2000). “Reparative” therapy: Whether parental attempts to change a child's sexual orientation can legally constitute child abuse. (Abstract) American University Law Review Abtracts, 49(3), 1–3.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isay, R. A. (1989). Becoming gay: The journey through self-acceptance. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Israel, J. (1979). The language of dialectics and the dialectics of language. London, UK: Billing & Sons, Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marmor, J. (Ed.) (1980). Homosexual behavior: A modern reappraisal (pp. 343–373). New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, I. & Zohar, D. (1997). Who's afraid of schro¨dinger's cat? An A-to-Z guide to all the new science ideas you need to keep up with the new thinking. New York, NY: First Quill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mills, K. I. (1999). Mission impossible: Why reparative therapy and ex-gay ministries fail (pp. 1–13). From http://www.hrc.org/publications/exgay_ministries/ change/asp.

  • Mondimore, F. M. (1996). A natural history of homosexuality. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Association of Social Workers: (1992). Position statement: “Reparative” or “Con-version” therapies for lesbians and gay men. Washington, DC: NASW.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nicolosi, J. (1991). Reparative therapy of male homosexuality. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Omne` s, R. (1999). Quantum philosophy: Understanding and interpreting contemporary science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pharr, S. (1988). Homophobia: A weapon of sexism. Little Rock, AR: Chardon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Polkinghorne, J. (2002). Quantum theory: A very short introductions. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Robinson, B. A. (2000). Healing homosexuality through reparative therapy (a.k.a. conver-sion therapy): All sides of the issue. Ontario Consultants of Religious Tolerance. http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_exod.htm.

  • Romesburg, D. (1997). Thirteen theories to “Cure” homosexuality. Out in all directions: An almanac of gay and lesbian America. From www.law.harvard.edu/studogs/ lambda/l_13theo.html.

  • Schreier, B. A. (1998). Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax: The faulty and specious assumptions of sexual reorientation therapies. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, (20)4, 305–315.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schroeder, M. & Shidlo, A. (2001). Ethical issues in sexual orientation conversion thera-pies: An empirical study of consumers. In A. Shidlo, M. Schroeder, & J. Drescher, Sexual conversion therapy: Ethical, clinical and research perspectives (pp. 131–165). New York, NY: The Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shidlo, A., Schroeder, M., & Drescher, J. (2001). Sexual conversion therapy: Ethical, clinical, and research perspectives. New York, NY: The Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Socarides, C. (1978). Homosexuality. New York, NY: Jason Aronson, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van Wormer, K., Wells, J., & Boes, M. (2000). Social work with lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: A strengths perspective. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zohar, D. (1990). The quantum self: Human nature and consciousness defined by the new physics. New York: NY: William Morrow and Company.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10615-012-0418-x

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bright, C. Deconstructing Reparative Therapy: An Examination of the Processes Involved When Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation. Clinical Social Work Journal 32, 471–481 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-004-0543-2

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-004-0543-2

  • gay affirming
  • mutability
  • reparative therapy
  • self-psychology