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Social Work and Exgay Reparative Therapy

April 23, 2013

Today I was assigned a classroom discussion question in my Clinical Supervision class.  The question I posed was:

The parents of a 16 1/2 year old bring their child to you for therapy.  The parents say their child is struggling with “sexual orientation issues” and they have been taking him to their local pastor for Reparative Therapy (Sexual Orientation Change Therapy).  The child attempted suicide 3 weeks ago and they  have reluctantly agreed to bring their child to you for therapy-they explain that they are fundamentalist Christians and will pull their child out of therapy if you do not support his continued attendance at Reparative Therapy sessions with their Pastor.  After the initial assessment you determine the child continues to be actively suicidal.

What would you do next as a Social Worker?

Would you discuss contacting CYFD (Child Protective Services) with your Supervisor? 

 

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5 Comments
  1. Based on your short post – I would have an immediate sit down with the parents to inform them that their child is actively suicidal and you believe that their approach is causing far more harm than they are aware of. The therapy they are seeking for their child is for their need to change him, not his. I would tell them that based on his suicidal tendencies, you are required to inform CPS of the situation and have the child forcibly removed from the home for his own protection. It is very apparent they are in it for their own needs and not for their child’s welfare because they have already decided that he is not discontinuing RT. It’s not his sexuality the boy is struggling with. It’s the anxiety his parents are causing him. Too many youths are being lost because of these situations and it’s time for others to step in and help them… Do the best job you can with this young man… He deserves it.

    • Thanks for the well thought out reply. I am amazed at how much effort and time people put in to their posts on WordPress…this ain’t Twitter!

  2. Nate permalink

    In California, I believe you would have to report it.

  3. Great question!
    First and foremost, suicidal tendencies need to be addressed. If there is immediate danger, you must report it to the authorities.
    Secondly, I believe there is a legal stipulation forbidding mental health professionals to implement reparative therapy, so the therapist cannot accomodate the parents’ wishes. It would be against the Ca. law and against the code of ethics of the social worker.
    And finally, again as I believe, in Ca. it is against the law for parents’ to force reparative therapy on a minor (under 18 yrs old).

  4. Legal issues aside, is the a common awareness that not all “counseling” “therapy” and “discipleship” models that attempt to help people walk away from homosexuality follow the “reparative therapy” model? I was involved in reparative therapy as a young man and, while I was never significantly hurt by it, I also now reject the model at large. Today, I work as a biblical counselor (not state licensed or affiliated) and when some one comes in struggling with sexual identity we offer help, but we don’t talk about orientation change, conversion therapy, and all that nonsense.

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