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New Paradigm to Help People with Sexual Orientation Conflicts
“Drs. Throckmorton and Yarhouse have brilliantly resolved contention in psychotherapy by providing the field with unbiased guidelines that are responsive to scientific evidence, are sensitive to professional practice, and which restore patient determination in choosing his/her goals in psychotherapy.” — Dr. Nicholas Cummings, past president, American Psychological Association
MEDIA ADVISORY, April 16 — When Rev. Ted Haggard’s ongoing struggle with homosexuality became public last November, the nation’s attention turned to how people resolve conflicts between strongly held personal beliefs and homosexuality. Now, two prominent clinicians have crafted a framework, endorsed by an American Psychological Association past-president, that will help counselors and clients address such conflicts in order to achieve a valued sexual identity. This new paradigm is authored by Warren Throckmorton, Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy with the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College and Mark Yarhouse, Professor of Psychology at Regent University and Director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity.
The framework, titled “Sexual Identity Therapy: Practice Framework for Managing Sexual Identity Conflicts” have been endorsed by American Psychological Association past-president Dr. Nicholas Cummings and other prominent clinicians. A partial list is available on the website or by request.
Why the Sexual Identity Therapy Framework is Needed
Dr. Throckmorton says, “We believe the mental health professions could provide more specific guidance about situations where clients experience religious and value conflicts over sexual attractions to the same sex. We don’t know what causes homosexual behavior for any given individual nor do we know how much, if any, change in attractions might be possible but what we can do is help clients to pursue lives they value. In our application of this paradigm with clients, we have found clients to have high levels of satisfaction with this approach.”
“People who struggle with sexual identity concerns ought to be able to meet with mental health professionals who can assist them to reach a place of congruence in their lives. We believe this framework provides clinicians with a general map, so that they can work collaboratively with their clients to navigate their concerns and ultimately arrive at a place of congruence, so that clients’ behavior and identity lines up with their beliefs and values,” explains Dr. Yarhouse.
The sexual identity paradigm of Throckmorton and Yarhouse is crafted with the recognition that we do not know precisely what causes the individual direction of sexual orientation nor can we say to what degree sexual orientation can change. Thus, therapists should not assume why clients have the attractions they do but rather conduct individualized assessments. Furthermore, instead of focusing on change or uncritical acceptance of undesired attractions, therapists strategically work with people to develop a life consistent with personal values and beliefs.
Dr. Cummings says, “Drs. Throckmorton and Yarhouse have brilliantly resolved contention in psychotherapy by providing the field with unbiased guidelines that are responsive to scientific evidence, are sensitive to professional practice, and which restore patient determination in choosing his/her goals in psychotherapy.”
Sexual Identity Therapy Discussion Group
Mental health professionals who affirm the sexual identity therapy framework are invited to join the Sexual Identity Therapy Discussion Group. This group is an online forum devoted to ongoing development and implementation of the sexual identity therapy framework and related issues. Mental health professions desiring to join may do so at www.sexualidentity.blogspot.com or by writing Warren Throckmorton, PhD, co-moderator, at [email protected].
Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College, and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy in Grove City College’s Center for Vision and Values. He produced, I Do Exist, a documentary about sexual identity.
Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Regent University, where he also directs the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (www.sexualidentityinstitute.org).