HELP FOR HOMOSEXUALS WHO WANT TO CHANGE
Babette Francis, May 1, 2010
Last week I was privileged to meet "Catarina",
who prefers to omit her last name because of aggressive opposition and
death threats she has received from a range of organisations that oppose
reparative therapy for same-sex attraction (SSA). Married with four children,
Catarina is an Italian psychologist, based in Spain, but currently living
She is a marriage and family counsellor with 10 years' training and experience
in reparative therapy, and is a member of NARTH, the United States-based
National Association for Research & Therapy for Homosexuality. NARTH
upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction
to receive effective psychological care, and the right of professionals
to offer that care.
Catarina who counsels via the internet, is also a member of the International
Federation for Therapeutic Choice (IFTC), NARTH's international division
formed to give a greater voice to therapists, academics and interested
individuals located outside the US who are members of NARTH, and to defend
the rights of therapists to treat unwanted homosexuality throughout the
And those death threats? Well, they emanate from militant homosexuals
who are very vocal about "choice", but vehemently oppose any
efforts by psychologists - or anyone else - to help those who want to
be free of same-sex attraction (SSA), a term Catarina prefers to use rather
than "homosexuality". In California, homosexuals have targeted
the businesses and homes of citizens who signed petitions opposing same-sex
Inspired by the work of Dr Joseph Nicolosi (founder and one-time president
of NARTH) and Spanish psychiatrist, Dr Aquilino Polaino, Catarina became
interested in the subject of SSA. The first time she met Dr Nicolosi in
Italy he taught her that helping people who were suffering from unwanted
SSA could be a very rewarding vocation. (Not financially, of course -
Catarina's work is totally free of charge). For many years she has been
giving free reparative therapy to men, women and young teenagers who desire
to change their same-sex feelings and behaviours. She also works with
family members who have a child or a spouse with SSA.
Reparative therapy respects the right of all people to choose their own
destiny and provides psychological care to those who desire to change.
As Dr Nicolosi writes in his latest book, Shame and Attachment Loss: The
Practical Work of Reparative Therapy (Dallas: InterVarsity Press, 2009),
change cannot be motivated primarily by social or religious guilt. Rather,
it must be a commitment from within. The person must have an internal
conviction that SSA will never satisfy his or her inner longings.
The primary work of reparative therapy is to move the person from chronic
pain and isolation to a renewed and stronger self. Although many health
specialists believe a person with SSA is unchangeable, there is abundant
scientific evidence proving the contrary. Reparative therapy can not only
change sexual behaviour and SSA feelings, it can also help clients assimilate
their past traumas and develop healthier relationships.
Researchers have not yet discovered a biological basis for SSA. Not a
single scientific study has proved that genes or hormonal influence trigger
the appearance of SSA.
Social-psychological aspects play a mayor role in the development of SSA.
According to American psychiatrist Dr Richard Fitzgibbons, the most important
risk factors for the development of SSA in men are weak masculine identity,
mistrust of women and narcissism; the three major conflicts leading to
SSA in women are a mistrust of men's love, a weak feminine identity or
SSA is not about sex, but rather about sexual identity confusion. Identity
is established within the family context. When a young boy has a distant
father and an overly protective mother, he will not be able to mirror
his father's masculinity and will grow up insecure about his own sexual
identity. When a little girl is unable to establish an emotional connection
with her mother, and has a father that is not supportive, she will be
more likely to develop sexual identity confusion.
The failure to understand the causes of SSA has impacted on the way our
society views and deals with this issue. Catarina's advice for parents,
counsellors and educators is to inform themselves and to study the origins,
causes and treatment of SSA.
The web pages www.narth.com and www.couragerc.net offer
information and help to those who are struggling with SSA.
Catarina respects the right of a person to claim a homosexual identity,
but she also acknowledges the right of a client to seek treatment for
unwanted SSA feelings. She has seen and felt the pain of many people struggling
with SSA. She honours and admires them. They are survivors of tremendous
emotional hurt and her heart goes out to them.
Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national coordinator of Endeavour