The Telegraph - UK January 16, 2011
The therapist who claims she can help gay men go straight
A psychotherapist who tried to convert a gay man to become heterosexual faces being struck off at a landmark disciplinary hearing this week.
By Robert Mendick | Telegraph Chief reporter
The case will expose the growing use of hugely controversial therapies, from the United States, which attempt to make homosexual men heterosexual.
The therapy has been described by the leading professional psychotherapy body as “absurd”, while the Royal College of Psychiatrists said “so-called treatments of homosexuality” allow prejudice to flourish.
A small group of counsellors believe all men are born heterosexual but that some choose a homosexual lifestyle which can then be changed through counselling.
Lesley Pilkington, 60, a psychotherapist for 20 years, faces being stripped of her accreditation to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) after treating a patient who had told her he wanted to be “cured” of his homosexuality.
The patient was in fact a prominent homosexual rights campaigner and journalist, who secretly recorded two sessions with Mrs Pilkington, a devout Christian, before reporting her to the BACP.
Mrs Pilkington says her method of therapy – Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) – is legitimate and effective. The therapy is practised by a handful of psychotherapists in Britain.
Mrs Pilkington, whose 29-year-old son is homosexual, said she was motivated by a desire to help others. “He [my son] is heterosexual. He just has a homosexual problem,” she said last week.
Mrs Pilkington has accused Patrick Strudwick, the award-winning journalist who secretly taped her, of entrapment. On the tape, Mr Strudwick asks Mrs Pilkington if she views homosexuality as “a mental illness, an addiction or an antireligious phenomenon”. She replies: “It is all of that.”
Mr Strudwick told The Sunday Telegraph: “Entering into therapy with somebody who thinks I am sick … is the singularly most chilling experience of my life.”
He added: “If a black person goes to a GP and says I want skin bleaching treatment, that does not put the onus on the practitioner to deliver the demands of the patient. It puts the onus on the health care practitioner to behave responsibly.”
Mr Strudwick approached Mrs Pilkington at a largely Christian conference — run by the US organisation The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality — where he said he was unhappy with his homosexual lifestyle and that he “wanted to leave it”. He then requested “treatment for his same-sex attraction”.
In May 2009, Mr Strudwick attended a therapy session at Mrs Pilkington’s private practice, based at her home in Chorleywood, Herts, and recorded the session on a tape machine strapped to his stomach.
In the disciplinary letter sent to Mrs Pilkington, she is accused by BACP of “praying to God to heal him [Strudwick] of his homosexuality”. She is also accused of having an “agenda that homosexuality is wrong and that gay people can change and that you allegedly attempted to inflict these views on him”.
Mrs Pilkington told The Sunday Telegraph: “He told me he was looking for a treatment for being gay. He said he was depressed and unhappy and would I give him some therapy.
“I told him I only work using a Christian biblical framework and he said that was exactly what he wanted.”
She estimates that in the past decade she has offered the SOCE method to about one patient a year, lasting typically about a year.
“We don’t use the word 'cure’ because it makes it [homosexuality] sound like a disease. We are helping people move out of that lifestyle because they are depressed and unhappy.
“We say everybody is heterosexual but some people have a homosexual problem. Nobody is born gay. It is environmental; it is in the upbringing.”
The SOCE method involves behavioural, psychoanalytical and religious techniques. Homosexual men are sent on weekends away with heterosexual men to “encourage their masculinity” and “in time to develop healthy relationships with women”, said Mrs Pilkington.
She said she became involved “in this lifestyle treatment” because of her son. “I am not in this because I am judging people. I am in it because I understand what the issues are.
“I have been able to help my son. We have gone through a process in my family. I want to help others who are in a similar place.
“[My son] is still gay ... we are developing a relationship that was quite difficult for many years but is now coming back in a very nice way. I am confident he will come through this and he will resolve his issues and that he will change.”
Her legal defence is being funded by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which has instructed Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister, to fight the case.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, the director of the CLC, said: “It is shocking that Lesley was targeted, lied to and misrepresented by this homosexual activist and even worse that her professional body consider her actions worthy of investigation.
“Therapy should remain freely available for those who wish to change their homosexual behaviour.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a policy statement last year condemning conversion therapies. It stated: “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be exchanged. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.”
Philip Hodson, a fellow of the BACP, said: “[BACP] is dedicated to social diversity, equality and inclusivity of treatment without sexual discrimination or judgmentalism of any kind, and it would be absurd to attempt to alter such fundamental aspects of personal identity as sexual orientation by counselling.
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Secular News Daily - January 17, 2011
Biblically inspired gay conversion ‘therapy’ is objectionable and wrong
by British Humanist Association
Reports of a Christian registered psychotherapist using ‘Sexual Orientation Change Efforts’ have been met with alarm by the British Humanist Association (BHA). Mrs Lesley Pilkington faces a disciplinary hearing by the British Association of Psychology and Counselling this week after being reported for trying to ‘convert’ a gay man to being heterosexual.
Mrs Pilkington is reported as saying she uses a biblical framework in an attempt to alter the sexual orientation of patients, believing that ‘everybody is heterosexual but some people have a homosexual problem’. When questioned by the undercover journalist Patrick Strudwick whether homosexuality was ‘a mental illness, an addiction or an anti-religious phenomenon’ Mrs Pilkington is reported to have replied ‘It is all of that’.
Mrs Pilkington’s is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre which ‘exists to promote Christian Truth in the public arena and to protect the freedom of Bible believing Christians’. The Christian Legal Centre has supported a number of cases of alleged unfair dismissal on religious grounds. Recent cases include those of Duke Amachree, Gary MacFarlane and Lillian Ladele, all of whom lost their cases and were not found to be victims of unlawful religious discrimination.
Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs commented: ‘The notion that homosexuality is a problem that may be ‘cured’ is profoundly objectionable and wrong. It is nothing short of brutal that a therapist would attempt to change a patient’s sexual orientation.
‘It is vital that unsubstantiated and potentially harmful methods cannot be allowed to masquerade as a legitimate practice, and where, regrettably, ‘conversion therapy’ continues to exist, it is not subsidised by public funds. We are pleased that Royal College of Psychiatrists has condemned this practice, and that this case is currently under investigation.’
Read reports on the investigation: Telegraph, Pink News
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has condemned conversion therapies, download their position paper HERE.
Read Patrick Strudwick’s 2010 article on gay-to-straight conversion
British Medical Association labels gay conversion therapy harmful, discredited
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British Humanist Association The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity supporting and representing non-religious people who seek to lead ethical lives without supernatural or superstitious beliefs. Committed to human rights, democracy, equality and mutual respect, the BHA works for an open and inclusive society with freedom of belief and speech, and for an end to the privileged position of religion – the established church in particular – in law, education, broadcasting and wherever else it occurs. Visit us at http://www.humanism.org.uk/
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