APA Grants Some Gays Struggle with Faith

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A new report by the American Psychological Association reveals it is unlikely a therapist can change someone's sexual orientation. But the report calls on mental health professionals to take clients' religious views seriously. Evangelical scholars say that is good news for people of faith. 

The report was released during the APA's annual convention in Toronto, Canada.

The APA report does take a dim view of efforts to change sexual orientation.  It said that an enduring change to an individual's sexual orientation as a result of sexual orientation change efforts is unlikely. 

The report also stated that clients benefit from approaches that emphasize acceptance, support and recognition of important values and concerns.

The organization passed a resolution Wednesday supporting the report's claims.

However, Evangelical scholars and therapists are enthusiastic about the APA's report, because it recognizes the distress of those who are same-sex attracted and yet, hold a faith that discourages such behavior. 

CBN News interviewed psychologists Warren Throckmorton and Mark Yarhouse about the report.

"Psychologists are now being urged to take a very client-centered approach, allowing clients to set the value direction and that means that some clients that are same-sex attracted will not identify as gay if that identification violates their religious beliefs," Throckmorton said.

"Probably this report more than any other I've seen has attempted to take religion seriously," Yarhouse said.
  
Such respect is a drastic departure for the APA. Evangelicals credit the dialogue they have been able to develop.

"We just shared our stories," said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International. "This isn't anything more than -- we are people of faith. Our faith is first and foremost on our minds when it comes to issues of sexuality and you can't discriminate any longer against people like me."
   
Dr. Yarhouse will present a six-year study of people who went through Exodus' programs at the APA convention this week. It finds that change is possible for some people -- and that on average, the attempt to change is not harmful.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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