A Systematic Review of the Research Base on Sexual Reorientation Therapies

By Serovich, Julianne M.; Craft, Shonda M. et al. | Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, April 2008 | Go to article overview

A Systematic Review of the Research Base on Sexual Reorientation Therapies


Serovich, Julianne M., Craft, Shonda M., Toviessi, Paula, Gangamma, Rashmi, McDowell, Tiffany, Grafsky, Erika L., Journal of Marital and Family Therapy


In the past few years, members of the AAMFT, like members of other professional groups, have engaged in a discourse as to the necessity and effectiveness of sexual reorientation therapies. The purpose of this article is to review, critique, and synthesize the scientific rigor of the literature base underpinning sexual reorientation therapy research. Using a systematic narrative analysis approach, 28 empirically based, peer-reviewed articles meeting eligibility criteria were coded for sample characteristics and demographics as well as numerous methodology descriptors. Results indicate the literature base is full of omissions which threaten the validity of interpreting available data.

Prior to the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychological Association, 1987), the clinical literature base was replete with studies of therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation based on behavior modification or aversive conditioning procedures. Gradually, however, such studies were discontinued for ethical and legal reasons. With homosexuality depathologized, therapeutic interventions have been developed that are more affirmative of a same-sex orientation (Zucker, 2003).

In contrast, some researchers and therapists have maintained that sexual orientation can be changed and have described techniques that collectively have been considered "reparative therapy" or "conversion therapy" (Nicolosi, 1991; Socarides & Kaufman, 1994). Based on a psychoanalytic interpretation of homosexual behavior, Nicolosi (1991) suggested that the pathological sexualization was in need of "repairing," thus the term "reparative" therapy (Morrow & Beckstead, 2004). Reparative therapy, as a program of psychotherapy, attempts to "cure" homosexuals by transforming them into heterosexuals (Hicks, 1999). These therapies can include a myriad of techniques including prayer, religious conversion, and individual or group counseling. In contrast, aversion therapies are techniques which share the same goal but are behavioral in nature, such as shock therapy. Traditional methods of aversion techniques have been termed "cruel" (Haldeman, 2002) and would not pass current Institutional Review Board Standards for acceptable research practices. For the purposes of this article, the term "sexual reorientation" will be utilized as an umbrella term to describe therapies which are either aversive (behavioral) or reparative (psychosocial). Many believe that these therapies should be available (e.g., Rosik, 2003), while others claim they are unnecessary and harmful (e.g., Green, 2003).

Some authors suggest that it is important to consider religious and spiritual orientations while deciding to recommend or not recommend sexual reorientation therapies (Yarhouse & Throckmorton, 2002). This is predicated on the notion that, while sexual orientation may be primarily biological, sexual behaviors are volitional and subject to moral evaluation (Stein, 1996). Some researchers and therapists believe that reorientation therapies may be warranted when an individual's sexual orientation is in conflict with his or her religious beliefs. Several guidelines have been suggested for clinicians to help those individuals who express dissatisfaction with their sexual orientation (Throckmorton, 2002; Yarhouse & Throckmorton, 2002).

Other studies have identified negative consequences of sexual reorientation therapies. For example, Shidlo and Schroeder (2002) noted that a majority of those who sought reparative therapies perceived psychological harm in the form of depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, social and interpersonal harm, loss of social support, and spiritual harm as a direct result of these interventions. Haldeman (2002) also noted typical negative outcomes of reparative therapies that include chronic depression, low self-esteem, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Systematic Review of the Research Base on Sexual Reorientation Therapies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.