new york times

How to Stop Gay Conversion Therapy

A number of news outlets have recently picked up on a national movement to outlaw so-called gay conversion therapy, a (usually) religiously-oriented process in which people attempt to “reprogram” homosexual urges. The practice is as abusive as it is ineffectual, of course, but some fault lines have developed over the question of whether a legal ban is the best way to combat this practice. An interesting discussion arose in the New York Times following this editorial, the thrust of which centered around First Amendment rights and a possible workaround:

The bans tread on a volatile question: the degree to which the First Amendment protects speech uttered by professionals, like doctors and lawyers, in the course of their work. . . .

There is a more promising way to put pressure on, or even shut down, conversion programs: existing state laws that forbid businesses and professionals to engage in deceptive practices.

Yet one letter writer addressed the singular way that the full force of law could help guide discussions and stigmatize bigotry where other methods might fail:

While there may be other possible avenues to bar so-called “conversion therapy” from practice, passing a law casts a wide net across all corners of the state and sends a strong message to all that this damaging practice, widely discredited by reputable medical and mental health institutions, has no place in our state.

It is an interesting argument that touches on issues of law, morality and freedom. What is not controversial is that gay conversion therapy is a regressive and traumatic practice which deserves no quarter anywhere in professional circles.

Here at PPSC, we take pride in an approach to LGBT friendly therapy that incorporates and values gay identity while exploring the specific issues that may trouble patients. Do you want to find a gay-friendly therapist in NYC? Start here.

The NYT Comes Out In Defense of Psychotherapy

Analytic therapy is under assault from multiple groups, including the neurobiologists, the pharmacologists, and the genetic determinists. Yet the chief issue with psychoanalysis is not that it’s archaic or ineffective; it’s simply that this form of therapy simply doesn’t have an adequate mouthpiece. At least that’s what the New York Times recently contended in a thoughtful piece, pointing out that most patients crave in-depth and emotionally attuned therapies:

As well they should: for patients with the most common conditions, like depression and anxiety, empirically supported psychotherapies — that is, those shown to be safe and effective in randomized controlled trials — are indeed the best treatments of first choice. Medications, because of their potential side effects, should in most cases be considered only if therapy either doesn’t work well or if the patient isn’t willing to try counseling.

Yet the article rightly asserts that “there is no Big Therapy to counteract Big Pharma.” That is, there exists no powerful lobby flush with cash to make the point so many of us consider self-evident: that psychotherapy works, and that a great deal of evidence suggests it works better than many alternatives.

Our only quibble with this particular article is the short shrift it gives to true psychodynamic therapies, citing only studies that stop at 20 weeks. Psychoanalysis and its offshoots may take longer than that to work, but the effects can be permanent and life-altering in ways that are not easily quantified.

If you or someone you love is interested in finding psychoanalytic psychotherapy for the treatment of depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties or other long-term issues, please contact PPSC here today.