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Skype, freemasonry, and the International Healing Foundation: more strange tales of reparative therapy

7 Feb, 10 | by Steven Reid, Evidence-Based Mental Health

Following last year’s Sex and the City conference in London, Patrick Strudwick writes in the Independent of his undercover exploits in the world of reparative therapy: therapists claiming great results in switching a person’s sexual orientation and “helping people exit the gay world.”

Struck by a study published in BMC Psychiatry reporting that 1 in 6 of UK mental health professionals surveyed had tried to help lesbian, gay or bisexual patients change their sexual orientation, he went in search of such treatment and came across a psychotherapist (accredited with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) and psychiatrist willing to oblige. And what a bizarre experience it proves to be:

I ask how she views homosexuality – as a mental illness, an addiction or an anti-religious phenomenon? “It’s all of that,” she replies. “At the heart of homosexuality is a deep isolation, which is where God needs to be”. A search for cause follows with questions about birth: “It’s just something I have noticed. Often [with homosexuality] it is quite traumatic, the baby was put into intensive care and because of the separation from the mother there can be that lack of attachment.” Excuse me? And what about family: “Any Freemasonry in the family? Because that often encourages it as well. It has a spiritual effect on males and it often comes out as same sex attraction.”

Sessions with the psychiatrist are by webcam, and include a recommendation to join Christian men’s groups. I’m not sure what the Royal College of Psychiatrists would make of that. If you want to know more, you should head for the International Healing Foundation where you can find therapists and ‘ministry leaders’ to guide you, and a compelling introductory video. Alternatively, if you’re interested in the evidence you might want to look at an overview on the RCPsych website. However, do bear in mind that, in the words of one correspondent, this may have been written by ‘active homosexuals’.

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