APA Task Force Report on Therapy with Sexual Minorities

The Associated Press is reporting that the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation has issued its report at this year’s annual convention. The Task Force produced a background document that appears to set the bar for what others might provide in terms of extensive research and review of existing findings. They addressed research on sexual orientation change attempts, as well as some important literature in psychology of religion. In the final analysis, the Task Force offers a general framework for appropriate, client-centered clinical services for adults.

They emphasize offering acceptance/support, coping strategies, social support, and more of an emphasis on identity rather than orientation.

The rationale they offer is that they concluded that sustained change of orientation was “unlikely,” that people who benefit seem to cite acceptance/support as key aspects of what they find helpful, and that what appearts to change more often is sexual orientation identity or a person’s label rather than the underlying orientation as such.

Regarding children and adolescents, the Task Force sees their framework as appropriate minors, too (by which they mean placing an emphasis on acceptance, support, coping, and identity). Therapy with minors, then, would seem to explore various trajectories out of respect for their personal religious or spiritual beliefs and values.

The Task Force also offered suggestions for those interested in conducting studies of sexual orientation change. These suggestions include a prospective and longitudinal design, sampling that allows for generalization, objective measures of both sexual orientation and sexual identity, address any comorbid conditions, and assessment of harm.

Interestingly, Sexual Identity Therapy (SIT) was cited favorably by the Task Force as an approach that is client-centered and identity-focused. For those interested in learning more about SIT, please refer to the SIT Framework that was first developed in 2006.

(Note: Crossposted with ISSI)

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