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DETROIT, (ChurchMilitant.com) - California is pushing three laws that will prevent children and adults with same-sex attractions or gender confusion from setting personal therapy goals unless they fit the gay agenda's narrative.
Church Militant spoke with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi Jr., the clinical director of the Breakthrough clinic, to learn how California's proposed ban would affect his clients. Dr. Nicolosi, Jr. is the son of the late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Sr., the inventor of reparative therapy, and Dr. Nicolosi Jr. has been working to continue his father's legacy to help men overcome same-sex attractions.
Church Militant: How long have you been working in the field of reparative therapy?
Joseph Nicolosi, Jr.: I've treated hundreds of men with unwanted same-sex attractions over the last 8 years.
CM: How did your father's work with clients and advocacy influence you?
JN: My father showed me the fundamental premise of our work— the recognition that everyone should be free to find therapy and support to help them achieve their desired outcomes and goals. Everyone has the right to walk away from sexual practices that don't work for them. So when men come to us because they want to walk away from homosexual attractions, we recognize that this is their freedom.
It's amazing, especially in the age of Harvey Weinstein that there are still some people who don't get it: everyone has the right to walk away from sexual practices that don't work for them. Though most people would agree with that statement, we've discovered a double standard that somehow if those feelings are homosexual in nature, then it's not OK to walk away. That it's somehow "anti-gay" to want to walk away from homosexuality and to have help to do so. Everyone has the right to walk away from any kind of sexual practices that don't work for them for any reason.
CM: You've seen the effects of reparative therapy first hand. What do the clients say it's done for them?
JN: Our clients commonly report gaining powerful insight into the roots of their same-sex attractions, discovering which emotional states increase and which states decrease their attractions, and they commonly report how when their non-sexual relationships with men grow more deeply, they experience a significant decrease in their unwanted attractions.
Typically, my clients' goal isn't to become a guy who walks down the street and wants to have sex with every good-looking woman he sees. That isn't a realistic goal. His goal is to genuinely fall in love with a woman and not have that attraction feel manufactured. He wants it to be genuine. He wants to genuinely fall in love with one special woman, someone he's crazy about and maintain that genuine relationship with her. That's his right, that's his journey. The elites in the radical LGBT political movement may not understand or respect that desire. But it doesn't matter. Respect for self-determination and individualism —the very same values our nation was built upon— means we allow these men to walk their own path, knowing it's their journey of discovery.
We receive so many calls, emails and letters from our clients who have found help through our therapy. I hear from the wives, the women that my clients went on to marry. They married men who refused to accept at face value what our pop culture told them about their sexuality. Instead, they explored the roots of their attractions, resolving any sexual abuse they suffered, the sexual addictions they've had, the feelings of inferiority in their gender and the difficulty maintaining non-sexual intimacy with men.
CM: Does sexual abuse children may suffer have any impact on same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria?
JN: Sexual abuse can have an impact on an individual's sexual development and the American Psychological Association acknowledges this. That's why legislation that attempts to ban our work is so destructive and cruel to sex-abuse victims. So many men come to us, saying, "I was sexually abused by an older man when I was just a boy. Now, because of that life-changing event, I struggle to resolve these unwanted, confusing attractions." What's true compassion: to help them resolve those unwanted attractions or tell them to live those attractions out?
CM: Does gender-affirming therapy actually develop the homosexual or transgender preference in young children?
JN: There's not much data yet to allow us to confirm an established link. But know for sure that it's dangerous to put an identity label on a young, gender-confused child. There are pediatricians who give adolescent children puberty-blockers and hormone replacement drugs in a misguided attempt to make them into the opposite sex. We have no idea what these drugs do to the brain in the long term. Adults have the right to make their own choices regarding gender-reassignment surgery, but it's highly problematic when children are encouraged this way, even being told it's the only way they can be who they really are.
As a licensed, clinical psychologist, I approach things from a neuroscience perspective. The brain can change. It changes all the time, based on our life experiences. Scientists call this neuroplasticity. Of course, sexuality can change. And it's not just neuroscientists saying this— the CDC published its latest annual report, revealing that more young people than ever view sexuality as something fluid, not necessarily set in stone forever.
Many hard-left proponents of identity politics hate the truth that sexuality isn't set in stone. They approach the topic of sexuality from the political, non-scientific premise that it can't change, that is to say, if you have these attractions, you are forever part of an oppressed minority group and it's now your permanent identity, so all you can do is accept it. It's very hard for them to acknowledge the reality that sexuality is something that can actually change and doesn't comprise everyone's core identity.
CM: California has three bills attempting to ban therapy for children and adults, actually mandating therapy to affirm the client in his chosen gender when it differs from his biological gender while banning the reparative therapy that your father developed and you are continuing. If they pass into law, what would that mean for anyone looking for help with unwanted same-sex attractions or a child with gender dysphoria?
JN: These "therapy ban" laws effectively kick the clients out of the driver's seat of their own therapy and put politicians in the driver's seat, instead. The government shouldn't be deciding what people should do with their sexuality. Politicians have no business telling people their therapy goals are illegal. Nor do they have any business telling people that they, the politicians, know "who the client really is" and that the client's legitimate identity must inevitably be "gay."
The media and politicians have been using the term "conversion therapy" for any therapy that claims to modify sexuality from homosexuality to heterosexuality. But they're not telling the full story. The term "conversion therapy" is broad, ill-defined, there's no ethics code, no governing organization. And it's generally practiced by unlicensed individuals.
In our therapy, the client is in the driver's seat. The licensed psychotherapist uses evidence-based trauma and sexual addiction treatment— the same treatment methods found in other clinics throughout the world. Using those established treatments, the client's sexuality often begins to change on its own as a byproduct of the trauma work.
If radical LGBT activists were so concerned about unethical practices in therapy, they would seek to ban therapeutic methods, like any method that uses shame, pain or coercion to try to change someone's sexuality. We could agree that would be reasonable. But that's not what they're doing. They're actually outlawing treatment goals, the goal to decrease one's unwanted same-sex attractions in the privacy of one's own therapy. That's problematic because it eliminates my client's fundamental right to pick their own destination in their own therapy.
CM: Is banning therapy a violation of our rights?
JN: Absolutely! The hypocrisy is staggering. For years, gay activists have been saying they just want the right to love whoever they want. But now some of them, the fringe element of the LGBT movement, want to take that very right away from my clients. Many of my clients are men whose goal is to love a woman. No one should deny them that right, and no one should deny them their journey or the ability to work toward being the person who they believe they really are. Not who the LGBT activist believe they are. Who they believe they are.
CM: Are the therapy bans based on any scientific evidence?
JN: Thirty years of science has shown us that sexuality is fluid and can change for many, many people. Even the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, revealed in 1980 that one-third of men who consider themselves "homosexual" admit to having occasional heterosexual thoughts and feelings.
CM: Are there any larger implications of a therapy ban?
JN: Therapy bans take away the rights of clients and put politicians in control of the client's own therapy. They're often based on the outrageous unscientific notion that biological sex can change but an individual's thoughts and feelings cannot. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To get philosophical for a moment, consider this: ancient philosophers from Eastern and Western cultures — Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Socrates — all of them cautioned us against creating identities around our thoughts and feelings. All these teachers agreed, our identities would be better formed around our values, not our desires. In the face of radical gay activists, who even tell young children that their feelings form their identities — "You're 6 years old and think you may be a girl? Then you must be transgender!" — my clients believe their values are what define them, and I agree with them.