Drs. Throckmorton & Yarhouse:
Professionals of all disciplines have an obligation to thoughtfully apply ethical standards to their clients. Mental health providers are no different. Currently, professional mental health associations have explicit ethical standards for a variety of dilemmas and issues that therapists may face when treating their clients. What is sub-standard currently is the lack of guidance for therapists whose clients seek assistance dealing with their sexual identity. As it has always been in every professional organization, ethical clinicians must act on a higher standard which professional organizations then thoughtfully apply to guide all clinicians. Throckmorton and Yarhouse have created a useable, practical and respectful set of ethical standards for treating clients with sexual identity issues. By crafting this framework, Throckmorton and Yarhouse demonstrate that ethical integrity starts not with the professional associations, but with the ethically engaged clinician’s commitment to client welfare. That client welfare always supercedes the political ideology of the day, whether it is found in the larger culture or within the clinician’s own professional organizations. I believe the professional mental health associations should adopt this framework to guide practice with clients experiencing sexual identity distress.
David Blakeslee, PsyD, Private practice, Lake Oswego, OR; member of Oregon Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association.