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Treatment of Male Homosexuality4 min read

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A. Dean Byrd, VP of NARTH, has posted a nice overview of clinical treatement of homosexuality called Treatment of Male Homosexuality: A Cognitive-Behavioral and Interpersonal Approach.  In it, he outlines a four phase treament schedule, and four tools used during treatment.

The four phases are:

  1. Assessment – "During this phase, a thorough assessment is completed, taking into account the possible presence of psychological disorders that may co-exist with homosexual struggles.  I frequently find varying degrees of narcissism, dependency, hysteria, anxiety, and depression….Emphasis during this phase is placed on the patient’s global, social and emotional functioning and does not focus narrowly on the patient’s homosexuality. "
  2. Strong Behavioral Approach – "The goal of this phase of therapy is to help patients organize and stabilize their lives. A clear majority of these men are "out of control." Efforts are made through behavioral strategies to help them gain some control. In this phase, behavioral control is viewed as a prerequisite to behavioral change. Patients are helped to set behavioral goals to improve socially, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and sexually."
  3. Interrupting Homosexual Arousal Patterns – "The emphasis during this phase of therapy is to help the patient explore, interrupt and eventually break the homosexual arousal processes. During this phase of treatment, the focus shifts from a behavioral to a cognitive emphasis."
  4. Forming Healthy Relationships – "The emphasis during this phase of treatment … is geared at helping patients better understand and engage in the appropriate relationship process (i.e., friendship, non-sexual intimacy with men).  Problems with intimacy, self-worth, self-love, love of others, love of God, defensive detachment, distortions (unequal relationships with men as well as intensity in relationships), developing non-erotic support systems with men, assertiveness, anger (with men and women), masculinity, guilt, shame, loneliness and abandonment are explored and resolved in a group therapy context."

The four tools that he uses throughout include:

  1. Journaling – "Journaling is a useful way of helping homosexual men clarify their thought processes, experience and release their feelings, and generally explore issues in their lives. Instead of letting thoughts buzz around in their head, they make journal entries."
  2. Emotional Tracing – " Emotional tracing is an intervention that is designed to identify and appropriately respond to primarily emotional needs. I simply ask them to explore what they were feeling prior to the homosexual attraction. Oftentimes, they report feelings of boredom, depression or anger, the latter most often being a reaction to hurt, pain, fear or frustration. I will have them re-experience these earlier feelings, and explore their origins. Frequently, this process helps them to clarify the origins of their homosexual attractions and results in a diminishing of these attractions."
  3. Defragmentation – "This intervention is related to emotional tracing but is more active. Its purpose is to assist in the de-eroticization of same-sex relationships….The defragmentiaton process addresses the issue of fragmenting or incompletely dealing with others which I reflect back to them. It works this way: in an individual session, I will often ask that they focus on a past relationship and examine their attraction. This attraction is often focused on a particular trait or characteristic with which they are unfamiliar, they view as lacking in themselves or which they regard with simple envy."
  4. Spiritual Intervention – "Specific spiritual interventions include the personalizing of scriptures, and imagery involving God as a loving, caring father whose love is unconditional….Spiritual interventions help these men enjoy the process of discovery and to articulate the true self, their core values, and the basic purpose of life and to develop their spiritual nature to its greatest fulfillment. Such interventions help them clarify and trust their deepest values in a quiet way through attentive contemplation and mediation."