A significant minority of mental health professionals are attempting to help clients with unwanted homosexual desires, a new survey reveals.
Of over 1,400 mental health professionals questioned, 17 per cent said they had assisted at least one client to reduce or change his or her feelings for members of the same sex.
The most common method of treatment was through counselling and there has been no sign of a decline in treatments in recent years.
The survey was published in the journal BioMed Central (BMC) Psychiatry and conducted by London researchers.
Lead researcher Professor Michael King, from University College London, argues: “There is very little evidence to show that attempting to treat a person’s homosexual feelings is effective and in fact it can actually be harmful.”
However, a study at Columbia University in 2001 found that homosexuals could become “predominantly” heterosexual through psychotherapy.
This study was significant because it was carried out by Professor Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist with a long track record of supporting ‘gay rights’.
In the new study published in the BMC journal today, 72 per cent of the 222 therapists who said they had provided treatment for homosexuals considered that a service should be available for people who want to change their sexual orientation.
They said client/patient distress and client/patient autonomy were seen as reasons for intervention. Religious, cultural and moral values were also taken into consideration.
The authors of the report suggest that appropriate guidelines should be developed for approaching therapy for homosexuals who wish to become heterosexual.
Last year a doctor found himself in the middle of a media storm when Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson referred to his work helping people who suffer unwanted same-sex attraction.
Mrs Robinson made her comments on a BBC Northern Ireland radio interview, saying therapy can help homosexuals change to become heterosexual.
Dr Paul Miller was slammed by gay activists but a former homosexual spoke up to support him.
Forty-year-old James Parker, who lives in London, praised Dr Miller and said he thought everyone who wishes to avail of his services should have the freedom to do so.
“I have had several sessions with Dr Miller in my journey,” said Mr Parker in the Belfast Newsletter. “I came out as a young gay man at 17 in London without any hostility from anyone and was very active in the gay lifestyle.”
Later he said he met a group of Christians. “I learnt it was possible to have friendships which were non-sexual”.
“I saw this new community which was centred around other people and I noticed the community I was in was narcissistic and self-centred in comparison. I began to question my identity – was it simply my sexual orientation?
“Through therapy I began to deal with some traumatic incidents in my past where I had been raped and sexually abused. I had found sexual abuse gave me human attention but in a perverted sort of way.”
Mr Parker has now been happily married for two years. “I don’t have homosexual feelings any longer,” he said.
In 2003 the Bishop of Chester was investigated by police after suggesting in a newspaper interview that there is evidence to show homosexuals could ‘reorientate’ to heterosexuality.
The investigation was later dropped after the police admitted no crime had been committed.