8 February 2014

Gay Conversion Therapy Rant

I have just left a comment on a LinkedIn discussion regarding gay conversion therapy. You can read more about the exposé of conversion therapy by journalist Patrick Strudwick here. There were some comments being left on the discussion that concerned me. Some therapists (a minority I might add) believe that if a client has unwanted gay feelings then we have a duty to help convert them to heterosexuality. This jars with my way of being and I wanted to share my contribution here:

I have had the honour of working with gay clients who have come out through our work together, although that is not what brought them to therapy per se. I suppose one could say that this is the opposite of conversion therapy.

I have no agenda other than facilitating somebody's quest for personal authenticity. It makes no difference to me personally, or to my religious and/or political agenda if they want to be upfront about their sexuality or not, but the difference I have seen in their personal growth when they have allowed their authenticity to shine through is joyous and a privilege to witness. If a client came to me with unwanted gay feelings I would look at why they are wanting to deny their natural feelings rather than colluding with them to constrict their sexuality. I think most therapists worth their salt wouldn't be up for collusion.

Conversion therapy feels wrong on an intuitive, gut level. Thankfully it is generally not accepted by the majority. My hunch is that it's a power game for the therapist. Having been on the receiving end of unethical therapy with a religious therapist, it sickens me to think that people can use their twisted interpretation of a higher authority to justify their behaviour. Regulation, or at the very least accountability, is needed in my opinion because of this shadow side of our profession.

Kudos to Patrick Strudwick for exposing this topic.

Finally, there's a Facebook meme going round which I think is appropriate here:

"I hate the word homophobia. It's not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole"

    5 February 2014

    Mindfulness; Meditation Lite?

    By Amanda Williamson

    I've been thinking a lot about mindfulness and meditation (been mindful about mindfulness?). Based on ancient Eastern philosophy and largely poopooed by the West until recently, we can finally see the 'science' that 'proves' it works, and so it's all the rage in the therapeutic community. I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the fad-like nature of the increase in popularity. I'm not entirely sure it will integrate healthily into our collective psyche in a truly evolutionary way but rather, be a passing fashion that gets replaced by the next big thing in self-help. Which would be a huge shame.

    Mindfulness today seems to be increasingly equating to a bourgeoisie ideal of finding inner calm in lives filled with First World Problems. Take a look at the pictures that TIME magazine choose to adorn their vision of the Eastern concepts:

    I welcome anything that helps to make people's lives better (and the articles above are pretty good actually), and I actually do feel a lot of compassion towards those that suffer from First World problems such as being inundated with information and technology and finding it increasingly difficult to Be Here Now (an excellent book by Ram Dass about what taking LSD taught him about finding out how not to need to take LSD to continue the learning…), it is difficult when we supposedly have it all and yet we are distracted from it all by this bombardment in amongst our busy lives of texts, 'news' alerts, Facebook messages, emails...and on...and on...

    But, I would like to find a new word for mindfulness, one which doesn't have the connotations of the white, middle class, middle aged "worried well" and links it back to its roots based on universal truth and the sharedness of human existence. Of course the roots are attached to that scary, airy, fairy concept SPIRITUALITY, which means that it can't possibly be marketed to theophobes...Whilst I'm on that topic I consider myself an atheist, possibly agnostic, veering towards pantheistic...the point is, my own spirituality is organic, developing, work in progress. I am secure enough in my stance to invite and welcome other frames of reference, especially if there's usefulness and learning attached. I believe that there are many of us out there able to deal with the spiritual frame of reference associated with meditation, and to incorporate something that science has finally proven has benefits, without making it into a glamourous, de rigueur fad, that somehow takes the essence out of it.

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