NARTH: Half of Clients are Teens

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2012

Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH), a coalition of organizations which promote ex-gay therapy, has launched a new web site called “Voices of Change” (warning: A noisy video autoplays when the site is loaded). The web site appears to have been launched in response to California’s ban on licensed therapists providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors under the age of eighteen. Legislators in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are now planning to introduce similar legislation in their states.

In one video posted on Voices of Change, Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder and former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) discloses that half of all clients are teenagers and represent a growing customer base:

Nicolosi: We are getting more an more teenagers coming to our clinic. Years ago when I did this work, the average age of our clients were late 20’s and early 30’s…Today, I would say that 50-percent of the clients at our clinic, and we have 135 ongoing cases a week. We have seven therapists that only deal with homosexuality. Fifty percent are teenagers.

 [via Truth Wins Out]


October 16th, 2012

These people are preying on the vulnerable and they need to be shut down as the child abusers they are. And former patients should sue them into oblivion. Honestly, I’d like to see shackles involved, but I realize perfectly well that this is a personal overreaction that I can indulge in because, after all, the worst that will happen to these inkstains of humanity is that they will be penned into a decreasing range of operation in a smaller handful of conservative states, rather than the punishment they richly deserve.

Bose in St. Peter MN

October 16th, 2012

Nicolosi has never hesitated to blame his clients for every “failure” — parents who were detached or smothering, clients who were not motivated — and that sure isn’t changing, eh?

Even with so many youth as clients, the Nicolosi lawsuit isn’t bringing a single adult forward as a plaintiff who received SOCE therapy as a minor and is happy with the results as an adult.

With 30+ years in practice, and the surge of young clients in recent years, it shouldn’t be that difficult to pull together a group of 20-something former clients who are now well-adjusted, productive adults who recommend SOCE therapy to families with kids who may be gay.

Instead, the lawsuit is leaning on 14- and 15-y/o clients, unnecessarily complicating their journeys. We know from adult survivors of SOCE therapy that the hopes and pressures during and after the treatment often led them to report clear success when the truth was murky and the harms were mounting. The child plaintiffs will add a layer to that when they are required to give sworn testimony in depositions or on the witness stand.

In scanning through the testimonials at the VOC site, I haven’t yet found one which includes doing SOCE therapy as a youth, much less having that lead to a happy hetero adult life. The only youth therapy I found is related to the son of Jose,, “Our son is smart…” in which a parent blames a competent therapist for NOT pursuing SOCE. The only person who comes to my mind as a youth adopter of identity change (not so much orientation change) is Alan Chambers at age 19 or so. But his was an adult choice, and didn’t include SOCE therapy.

So, speak up, Dr. Nicolosi. Quit exploiting the minors in your care and bring forward a team of adults you treated as kids.

Regan DuCasse

October 16th, 2012

I had an opportunity to ask him some questions (on a syndicated radio program he was being interviewed on) that challenged his template on the ’causes’ of homosexuality in children. It’s when his book was launched on how to prevent it in the young.
Most of NARTH’s literature TARGETS parents of gay children in this way. Nicolosi decided to ignore my question. Even when I told him that he’s payed thousands to answer questions he speaks as if HE has all the answers to, so he’d better answer mine.
Still he refused.
He’s a phony when it’s all said and done, and his template isn’t hard to challenge intellectually and factually.
But in a court of law, instead of the court of public opinion, I’d love to see how he’d defend himself, if that radio show and other forums are any indication: he’s got nothin’.


October 16th, 2012

This makes even clearer the need to ban the therapy for minors. You can bet that 95% of these teens were literally and figuratively driven to SOCE by their parents and the other 5% are doing it because they fear the reactions of their families and churches–not because they necessarily KNOW they want to change their SO.

Kel Munger

October 16th, 2012

Wow. HALF their clients? No wonder they’re going all out to try to overturn this in California. Their revenue stream depends on parents paying them to torture children.



October 16th, 2012

@mattnyc exactly what i was thinking…the clientele being so many teens because they are being forced by family one way or another…

Timothy Kincaid

October 17th, 2012


We can bet that… but that’s the problem. We’re just gambling, guessing, betting, conjecturing, and assuming.

I don’t know that to be true. And neither do you, the legislators, or anyone else.

We’ve heard testimony from some who said they were pressured by parents. We’ve heard testimony from some who said they were not.

Unfortunately, my impression is that in this debate, the desire to pass this law is so strong that our community has chosen to believe one group and ignore the other. I don’t think that is wise or fair.

I’ve spent too many years not being part of the majority – on most things I find myself a minority within a minority. So I just can’t buy into “everyone knows” or “we can bet” arguments.

I really feel that we are coming down heavy handed. And the ones whom we are dictating to are – if you think about it – our own kids. And I fear it will have unanticipated consequences.

Those of us who were raised in conservative religious communities had to face the assumptions of our communities. Many of us tried out the various methods for becoming straight – not because our parents forced us into therapy but because we wanted to be straight. (And guess what – most guys my age raised in liberal nontheistic communities ALSO tried to not be gay.)

But we learned first hand that this stuff doesn’t work. And that learning was – for me anyway – part of accepting.

If we prohibit the ability to pursue “change”, we also prohibit the acceptance that comes from the realization that change doesn’t happen.

Perhaps that attempt-fail-accept process is no longer necessary. Or perhaps even no longer of value.

But I fear that we are leaping at this without even considering the people it impacts the most.

I know everyone has an opinion. But when it comes to this issue, I really have to respect the opinions of those who actually come from that community – both those who support the law and those who find it troubling. And I think they are not all being heard.

Priya Lynn

October 17th, 2012

Once again, If we assume without evidence that some teens seek this “therapy” willingly the question is “Are more people harmed less by the availability or banning of it?”. If you think about it honestly and rationally its very difficult to come to any other conclusion then the greater number of people are harmed the least if we ban this “therapy” for minors.

The presence of this “therapy” promotes and reinforces the social rejection that encourages parents to force their teens into this while the banning of this “therapy” sends a message that its okay to be gay and diminishes the social pressure to undertake a therapy that all the major mental health organizations agree is potentially harmful and has no possibility of working. The American Psychological Association says gays that positively accept their orientation are happier and better adjusted than those who do not. The availability of this “therapy” is a net negative for society while banning it is a net positive.

Let’s not let empathy for anti-gay religious people cloud our judgement on this issue.

Gene in L.A.

October 17th, 2012

The fact that they continue to have interest in their services is proof in itself that there are still scared, confused kids out there and that the message they are receiving–from somewhere–is that it’s not good to be who they are or who they think they may be. They do need help, and there should be help available, but help from unbiased, caring individuals who don’t have an agenda either way, to help them find out who they really are in themselves and then assure them they are not sick for being ‘different’, even a ‘minority within a minority.’

Regan DuCasse

October 17th, 2012

Excellent, Priya Lynn!

A majority of young people ARE raised in religious homes to a certain degree. And it’s from these environments come less acceptance or understanding of homosexuality, because any positive (or accurate )messaging is cut off about it.
And we ARE talking about at least 18 years of this conditioning BEFORE any of this therapy starts.
So groups like NARTH and Exodus are already at an advantage from the outset.

And it frosts me no end that they behave as if they aren’t. Nor will they EVER concede that it’s a biological issue that isn’t ANTI SOCIAL at all.
Even the shared pathologies, or paraphilias not exclusive to any orientation, are treated as another one by NARTH.
An egregious thing to do considering how Nicolosi touts his professional credentials.
Professionals aren’t supposed to misdiagnose or mischaracterize ANYTHING.
Nor exploit fear and ignorance.
But in the case of homosexuality, and ONLY that, that’s exactly what they do and demand they deserve to do so with impunity.
Again, they have already had an advantage with a teenager, and reinforcing their advantage, isn’t at all a matter of choice for anyone.

Timothy Kincaid

October 17th, 2012

No, Priya Lynn,

We don’t “assume without evidence that some teens seek this “therapy” willingly”. Rather, we hear testimony that some do.

And absolutely, I have empathy for “anti-gay religious people” who are same-sex attracted and have not yet come to terms with it. I hope you do too. They are us.

Regan, I love you. But when you speak about these kids, I have to remind you that you’ve never been one of them. I have.

And as you so very often say (and I agree) if we are talking about kids who are conservatively religious, why would we take an anti-conservative-religion person’s word over theirs?

Priya Lynn

October 17th, 2012

Tim said “And as you so very often say (and I agree) if we are talking about kids who are conservatively religious, why would we take an anti-conservative-religion person’s word over theirs?”.

We take the word of the mental health professionals over the word of religious conservatives because the mental health professionals base their conclusions on evidence and science whereas the religious conservatives decide what they want to believe first (gayness is bad) and then try to force-fit the evidence to support their prejudice. Religion is simply a very poor guide to reality.

Even if we accept without evidence that some teens willingly seek out this therapy that is no reason to allow them to harm themselves. Just as we don’t allow the public to purchase radioactive waste even if they want to we shouldn’t be allowing teens to buy something that is potentially harmful and which has no chance of success.

No, you ask us to take your word for it that some people benefit from this therapy indirectly by getting counseling for other issues such as drug and alcohol use, sexual addition and so on. You also say that some benenefit indirectly by realizing they can’t change their orientation. The trouble is that no one need undergo an effort to change their orientation to get counselling for drugs/alcohol use, sexual addiction, or to realize they can’t change their orientation. Those benefits can all be had through affirmative counseling that doesn’t increase self-loathing and reinforce societal oppression of gays and lesbians. Those benefits can be had without people undergoing counseling that creates undeserved parental guilt and drives a wedge between them and there families by telling them its their parents fault they are gay.

The shidloe and Schroeder studies show there’s a lot of harm associated with efforts to change orientation. Many clients fail and become suicidal because they think they’re going to hell, an idea that’s often encouraged in such “therapy”. Sometimes people do commit suicide as a result of this “therapy”:

Ten people realizing from this “therapy” that they can’t change orientation is not worth one life lost because this “therapy” has thrown them into the pit of despair. And judging from the Shidloe and Schroeder study there most certainly aren’t 10 people getting collateral benefits for every one that is severely harmed or killed by this therapy.

Once again, any alleged unintended beneifts had from efforts to change orienation can be had through normal counseling so it is pointless to put people through potentially destructive counseling to perhaps accidentally gain some benefit.

You express the opinion that for some of the people seeking to change orientation only an anti-gay therapist is acceptable to them so they won’t get counselling otherwise. If society educates them and sends them the message that this type of “therapy” is potentially harmful and ineffective there will be a lot fewer of such people than there will be if society allows this damaging “therapy” and by doing so reinforces erroneous beliefs that its wrong to be gay and contributes to the climate of oppression and justification of poor treatment of gays.

It is not a good trade-off for society to allow an ineffective product on the market that harms many in the hope that it will accidentally benefit a few.


October 17th, 2012

Timothy, I have to disagree with you. I don’t know exactly what the laws are in the USA – perhaps they vary from state to state – but here in the UK there are certain things that are prohibited to all those under 18, even if they request them. For example, it is illegal to sell them tobacco or alcohol, banks cannot issue them with credit cards, bookmakers must not allow them to place bets, casinos must not allow them to gamble, and solicitors cannot allow them to make a will. All these regulations are made for their own protection.

It seems to me perfectly reasonable that it should be illegal to perform on minors, for a non-illness, therapy that does not work and is potentially harmful. Once they have attained the age of majority, THEN they can be free to dabble in such quackery at their own discretion and at their own risk, and to discover for themselves that it does not work.

You say to Regan, “But when you speak about these kids, I have to remind you that you’ve never been one of them. I have.” I have too. I have no doubt that at the age of 16 I would have gone to a “therapist” in an attempt to have my sexual orientation changed if I had known how to locate one, and if I had been able to do it without my family finding out about it. Why? Because I didn’t want to be different from all my mates (or all of them as far as I knew), because my religion said that homosexuality was wrong, and because I was afraid of what my family’s reaction would be if I were discovered to be gay. Fortunately that wasn’t possible, but if I had at that time been living in a big city like London, it might have been. A law protecting me from falling into the clutches of charlatans would, in those circumstances, have been invaluable.


October 17th, 2012

It’s one thing for a gay teenager to spend a few years trying to pray away the gay on his or her own, quite another for that kid to be alone in a room with someone like Joseph Nicolosi mucking around in their head.

If a devout gay kid in a socially conservative denomination wants to abide by church teachings, that’s their prerogative; maybe they’ll come to a different conclusion later, maybe they won’t. But they should be able to reach adulthood without being subjected to the comprehensive mindf*** that goes in reparative therapy.

If I had to wait until I was 18 to speculate in pork-belly futures, young Calvin Martin Huss can wait that long to avail himself of a professional de-gaying service.

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