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IHF Urges Maryland Legislature To Put Client Rights First

February 14, 2014 By: Tom Coy Category: Gay Politics, Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

January 8, 2014

The following International Healing Foundation press release is reprinted in its entirety: Bowie, MD — Today, Delegate Jon Cardin introduced House Bill 91, legislation that would ban minors in the state of Maryland from seeing a licensed mental health practitioner to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA). International Healing Foundation (IHF), a non-profit organization that has since 1990, helped thousands of individuals and families struggling with sexual orientation issues, strongly opposes this legislation and is asking the Maryland Legislature to consider all viewpoints and review all the research on the efficacy of Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy.

“There is not one single peer-reviewed scientific study that has researched the outcomes of minors that have undergone SOCE therapy, yet this legislation makes unfounded claims that SOCE therapy is harmful and ineffective,” commented Christopher Doyle, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and the Director of IHF. “As a practicing attorney, it is Delegate Cardin’s ethical duty to consider all the evidence before introducing a bill that would take away the rights of minors and their parents to see a counselor of their choice.”

The legislation comes at the heels of a groundbreaking new book by Dr. James Phelan, published on January 1, 2014 entitled: “Successful Outcomes of Sexual Orientation Change Effort Therapy: An Annotated Bibliography.” Over the decades, various authors have documented successful outcomes of efforts aimed at helping clients overcome unwanted homosexual feelings, attractions, and identification. This book, citing 100 years of scientific research, is the first of its kind revealing a comprehensive bibliographic review of the literature documenting success, showing that therapy has helped some clients resolve their unwanted SSA and experience heterosexual attractions.

“House Bill 91 relies exclusively on policy statements from so-called mainstream mental and medical health organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), who formed a Task Force in 2009 made up exclusively of gay-identified and gay-affirming psychologists. Not only did the Task Force refuse to include psychologists and licensed psychotherapists that actually worked with clients undergoing SOCE therapy and/or were former homosexuals, but all of the members of this Task Force had previously gone on the record as opposing SOCE therapy for philosophical and political reasons,” commented Doyle.

The APA Task Force report advised parents to avoid SOCE therapy for their children, and House Bill 91 chose only to include the APA and other so-called mainstream mental and medical health organizations’ opinions, while ignoring the recommendations from the American Association of Christian Counselors, National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Catholic Medical Association, and the American College of Pediatricians, all who support a client’s right to resolve unwanted SSA and for parents to decide what medical and mental health treatment is best for their family and children. Collectively, these organizations comprise over 50,000 licensed mental and medical health practitioners, but have been completely marginalized by House Bill 91.

“What the Task Force report actually said was that there is inadequate research to make conclusions on the efficacy and safety of SOCE therapy, and because of the methodological limitations of the research on SOCE therapy, it may pose health risks,” commented Doyle. “Bill 91’s interpretation of the APA report’s conclusions is inaccurate, and we are calling on the APA to correct those inaccuracies, as it states in their own 2002 Code of Conduct: ‘When its research is misinterpreted or misquoted, it (APA) should take reasonable steps to correct the misinterpretation’.”

“House Bill 91 threatens clients’ constitutional rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and their first amendment rights to see a counselor who helps them resolve unwanted SSA while remaining faithful to their deeply held spiritual beliefs. All parents, children, and families in Maryland deserve the right to pursue their own self-determination and should not be forced to choose between their counselor and their faith values.”

Sara Elizabeth