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Tutor: Amanda Smith
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LGBT discussion board
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The focus of study for this week is LGBT issues in counseling.
I was not surprised to hear that there are mixed results about corrective therapy, because I remember reading about that in 2014 (McDowell). Some people enter into conservative Christian therapy programs and leave as happy Christians who still identify as homosexual. Stories like this seem common, and they were echoed in the interview between Dr. Garzon and Dr. Yarhouse (2020). During this interview, three approaches for counseling LGBT clients were outlined:
· a conservative approach, sometimes called “Conversion Therapy,” which tries to change a client to heterosexuality
· a progressive approach, called “Positive Affirmation,” which affirms any and every sexual orientation as valid if it is presented by the client
· a client-centered approach, sometimes called “Narrative Therapy,” which helps clients understand the intersections of their conflicting identities
I think that Narrative approach is very helpful. I have also heard the different “narratives” of a persons life called “scripts.” For example, let us consider a homosexual girl who is an evangelical Christian is guaranteed to experience conflict about her identities. Cognitive dissonance is guaranteed once she develops in those identities, and learns that her homosexual orientation seems to be a sin according to her evangelical identity (see Romans 1:26). Trying to convert the client to a specific understanding of verses like Romans 1:26 is a violation of the ACA Code of Ethics; and simply affirming both her faith and her homosexuality might only exacerbate her cognitive dissonance, which will only increase negative health factors (Erford & Hays, 2018). It is more helpful to the client to help her understand the intersection of her conflicting identities. Explaining this in a narrative format can help give meaning, and it can help her to decide which identity she values more.
I would like to ask Dr. Yarhouse if he recommends LGBT clients attend church-based therapy, and, if so, what things they should caution to ensure a quality, helpful therapy experience.
Erford, B. T., & Hays, D.G. (2018). Developing multicultural counseling competence: a systems approach, 3rd edition. New York, NY: Pearson.
Garzon, F. (2020). Presentation: Sexual Identity in Professional Counseling Practice.
McDowell, S. (2014). Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing.
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Something that surprised me while watching the lectures had to do with the conversation surrounding “conversion theory”. I have never heard conversations about Christians trying to change a person from being gay to being straight without it followed by a horror story of abuse and psychological manipulation or complete condemnation for being gay. It was surprisingly positive to hear that there were organizations taking time to discuss sexuality with Christians who have confusing thoughts in a way that is respectful of the clients wants and faith which may result in a possible choice away from being gay (Yarhouse, n.d.).
One theme I will take away from these readings is the belief the everyone falls on a continuum of sexuality. Almost everyone will experience a sexual thought towards the same sex at some point in their lives and they may be challenged with that feeling but they will not be alone in it (Yarhouse & Burkett, 2002). This means that people will not fall under the two categories of being straight or being gay but may identify as many different aspects of the continuum (Yarhouse & Burkett 2002). Since sexual orientation consists of seven variables (sexual behavior, fantasies, emotions, living life as an orientation, self-identification, social preference), a person may experience each on different levels and directed towards different sexes (Hays & Erford, 2018).
A second theme I will carry into future counseling will be the knowledge that heterosexism can be extremely scarring. Heterosexism can lead to the denial of basic rights and when those basic rights are violated, the LGBTQ community is much more likely to experience depression, anxiety, high suicide rates and attempts, low self-esteem, harassment, hate crimes, internalized shame and physical ailments. It is not always clear that the institutional oppression of the LGBTQ community is causing as much damage as it is to the clients. This will also manifest itself in higher level of poverty and reduced social relationships (Hays & Erford, 2018).
A third theme I found when specifically discussing Christians who are interacting with the LGBTQ community, especially in regards to evangelicals, is the stance that many churches take. Dr. Yarhouse describes these three stages as:
1. behave how the church desires you to behave
2. believe what we believe
3. belong to our group
This turns many in the LGBTQ community away knowing that they do not want to conform to the behavior of the church (Yarhouse, n.d.).
Dr.Yarhous goes on to say that the three stages should be:
1. belong to our group
2. believe what we believe
3. become more like Christ in everything you do (Yarhouse, n.d.)
20% of Americas are antagonistic towards conservative Christians and there is a strong belief that these Christians hate anyone who identifies as gay (Yarhouse & Burkett, 2002). In reality I do not believe that is true but the church needs a reminder that we are called to love with “gentleness and respect” and 1 Peter 3:15 states (Crossway Bibles, 2016). As a counselor I will need to fully understand the perspective my client may be coming from with their past relations with the Christian community.
I wrestle with a lot of emotions when it comes to working with the LGBTQ community. I have a deep understanding that after that after the fall of man in the garden everything changed. The natural man and woman relationship that had existed before the fall will change and I know that God understands this and I could never imagine being told who I can and can’t love or that I need to be alone. At the same time, the Bible seems to speak quite clearly on homosexuality being a sin as seen in 1 Timothy 1;9-10, “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”(Crossway Bibles, 2016)I’m concerned my biases may cause a lack of proper counseling although it is something I am continuing to educate myself on.
Crossway Bibles. (2016). Esv: study Bible: English standard version. ESV: study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, IL.
Garzon, F. (n.d.). The Lesbian & Gay Population.
Hays, D. G., & Erford, B. T. (2018). Developing multicultural counseling competence: a systems approach. NY, NY: Pearson.
Yarhouse, M. A. (n.d.). Sexual Identity in Professional Counseling Practice.
Yarhouse, M. A., & Burkett, L. A. (2002). An inclusive response to LGB and conservative religious persons: The case of same-sex attraction and behavior. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(3), 235–241. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1037/0735-7028.33.3.235
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