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Counselling association denies clients right to change

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The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has written to its members warning them of its opposition to ‘reparative’ therapies.

Such therapies are intended for those who experience same sex attraction but want help to change.

This move from the BACP will make it difficult for those counsellors who want to offer this kind of therapy and also remain members of the association.

The BACP enclosed a ‘Statement of ethical practice’ with the letter, which said: “BACP opposes any psychological treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder, or based on the premise that the client/patient should change his/her sexuality”.

In the letter, members were told: “you must incorporate these statements into your practice at the earliest opportunity”.

Lesley Pilkington, a Christian counsellor who is trained in reparative therapy, has pointed out that it is the client’s choice to receive such therapy and as such it is a human right.

In an interview with Premier Radio, Mrs Pilkington said:

“They have every right to this treatment. It is a human right…They have a right to be treated for what they feel is causing them distress. There is a huge disconnect between professional bodies and the reality of what people are like when they come requesting help from their therapist”.

Mrs Pilkington was backed by a number of high profile churchmen when the BACP launched an investigation against her after a homosexual activist pretended to be a client in need of help.

In a letter of support, which was co-signed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey amongst others, they wrote: 

“We believe that people who seek, freely, to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions hold the moral right to receive professional assistance.

“Whether motivated by Christian conscience or other values, clients, not practitioners, have the prerogative to choose the yardstick by which to define themselves. Not everyone stakes their identity on sexual feelings.

“Competent practitioners, including those working with biblical Judeo-Christian values, shouldbe free to assist those seeking help”.

The BACP’s statements on this issue are at odds with one of the most widely used handbooks on psychiatric diagnosis, Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment (2009).

The authors note: “Recent empirical evidence demonstrates that homosexual orientation can indeed be therapeutically changed in motivated clients, and that reorientation therapies do not produce harm when attempted”.

“These statements by the BACP contain a degree of irony”, said Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern.

“Counselling and psychotherapy are based on the assumption that people can change. Yet it would appear that the BACP abandons that notion when it comes to human sexuality. This is in spite of evidence that people’s sexual attractions can change.

“To deny people the option of receiving this kind of therapy is to deny people the opportunity to try and change if they want to. This does not appear to be in line with the caring nature of the profession but rather panders to the politically correct brigade”.