Today we called on the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs to listen to mental health professionals and discontinue their newly adopted “12-step program” for gay men. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the diocese has adopted Twelve Steps of Courage, a counseling program for gay men based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Part of the program asks participants to admit they are “defective.”
“The diocese should be ashamed for selling this snake-oil therapy that mental health professionals have denounced,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Programs like this say they offer hope but in reality they demean and denigrate LGBT people’s sense of self-worth.”
Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy is unhealthy and can be harmful. In fact in a recent report the American Psychological Association instructs mental health professionals to be honest with clients about the inefficacy of such treatments and to help patients deal with distress over sexual orientation in a positive manner.
The APA report noted that many who seek psychological interventions do so because of distress over the perceived irreconcilability of their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. They encourage mental health professionals to be respectful of those religious beliefs and work to help patients “address the reality of their sexual orientation while considering the possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.”
“Homophobia, bias and discrimination are what make it difficult for people to accept and be open about their sexual orientation,” said Solmonese. “Those who wish to give counsel to people struggling with their identities should offer acceptance, not rejection.”