Sunday, January 15, 2006

Contemplating Activism...advice please

Hmmmm, I am in a dilemma and as so many of my lovely blog readers are both more thoughtful and experienced in matters of activism than I am, I wondered if I might pick your brains.

I am on an emailling list for Christian psychologists. Admittedly, I'm more of the latter than the former these days, but no matter. This is a mixed group of qualified psychologists, psychology students, trainees, people who want to be psychologists and people who have some association with psychology in one way or another. Now, someone posted asking for an organisation to whom they could refer a Christian with same-sex feelings. I recommended Courage as a potential avenue to investigate, having recently met Jeremy Marks (albeit very briefly) and knowing their stance that gay relationships are not inherently sinful or dysfunctional. Perhaps I was a bit quick of the mark to make a recommendation.

Since, several other people have posted recommending True Freedom Trust and saying how they are a wonderful organisation. I have to beg to differ. It is my understanding that although TFT don't offer reparative therapy, they do see same sex relationships as inherently dysfunctional, they see homosexuality as a result of problems in early bonding and the formation of a "defensive attachment". This is not the position of any mainstream psychological or medical body - indeed, they (the BPS, the APA, the BMA and the AMA) are all clear that same sex attraction is not a psychological or biological dysfunction.

Now - my question is this. Should I say anything or invite discussion on the issue? And what should I say and how should I say it? It bothers me that people in positions of power may refer someone to an organisation that will tell them that their sexuality is pathological in some way. People are entitled to their opinions and to express them, and adults are entitled to seek help from whatever organisation they wish, but it is my opinion that people should know if the organisation they seek him from is not endorsed by mainstream bodies. It bothers me, but sometimes I am unsure what the best way to invite discussion might be.


Jennifer F. said...

I hope you'll say something gentle. You could put it in terms of why you yourself would hesitate to give a referral to that group by saying just what you've told us. I'm afraid that some folks might refer to that group without really knowing what it is.

Diana_CT said...

I would keep it on a professional level. Mention that you have never found that those types of group have actually helped and may have done more harm. Basically just what you said in your last paragraph, that they are not endorsed by the mainstream bodies. Do not get into a discussion of whether it is sinful or not, but keep it on the level of what is good for the patient.

Contemplative Activist said...

Thanks Jennifer and Diana :)

I think part of the reason I feel I need to tread really carefully is that most people on this list are far more qualified than me - many of them, including some who have recommended TFT are actually qualified psychologists. That really does concern me a lot :(.

I think I will sleep on it and see if anyone else responds in the meantime. I went to a conference with this group on sexuality and most of the practicing clinicans there were extremely open minded, many of them had changed their stance that same sex relationships were sinful as a result of their clinical experience. I wonder if one of them will speak up? If not, I will say something tomorrow - in case people start referring to TFT without realising what it is.

Peterson Toscano said...

CA, I trust that however you respond, you will do so with grace and thoughtfulness.

That said, I do not think you need to feel cowed in anyway whatsoever just because someone may display more letters after their names than you or have more clinical experience. That does not make them an expert in this particular issue.

You may very well have done much more thinking on the matter and have been exposed to many more resources both in text and in life that qualify you to speak with quiet authority.

As Diana CT suggested, keeping it on a professonal level will be helpful especially if you also include the personal approach with a meaningful narrative in which to give your reservations and professional opinion weight and context.

It sounds like because of their religious ideology, their vision is cloudy. Perhaps framing it with an analogy of some other similar issue that does not get muddied with the stigma of "sinful behavior" might help some to see the situation more clearly.

Sounds like a perfect opportunity where you will speak truth to power.

Contemplative Activist said...

I...did it. Eeeek, now lets just hope that no-one on this list is currently reading my recent application for clinical training...:S

Its a small world.

postliberal said...

If they're going to have thier view of you as a potential worker in thier profession affected by your opinion of such organisations, then they can't be very good at thier job! Is this NCIP? As you say, they were mostly rather good at that conference on sexuality ect, so we needn't worry. Just accept that other people can see this differently to yourself, in a credible and thoughtful manner, and you should be fine :P

Lorcan said...

Thank you Friend:

You woke me up a bit. A few friends savaged me this week for asking... questioning the sacrid cow of our symbols... YES! Take part, and we all have to take responsibility, we have the danger of becoming cowardly about our light.

The fact is that the promotion that homosexuality is a dystuction is as dysfunctional as any prejudice. We are who God intends us to be... and we should love ourselves and othes for it.

Thee has real wisdom and gentle strenght... if thee is led to, stand up and be counted.


Lora said...

Glad you followed up this. I'm sure you did it with grace. Discussion can only lead to better understanding, even if it's not always comfortable.