APA Leaders Respond with One Voice: Inclusion
In a Town Hall Meeting sponsored
by the American Psychological Association (APA), President
Alan Kazdin, President-Elect James Bray and APA's Executive
Officer Norman Anderson responded to questions from APA
members about the needs of psychology and psychologists in
the 21st Century.
In responses to questions about the lack of religious diversity, the lack of scientific research to support some of APA's idealogical, political statements and positions as well as APA's rumored attempt to ban psychological care for those with unwanted homosexual attractions, these association leaders responded with one voice: inclusion--inclusion of individuals and inclusion of world views.
A long time member of the American Psychological Association, Dr. A. Dean Byrd indicated that he was as conservative Christian whose world views differed dramatically from some of the activist-influenced statements issued by APA and asked if there really was a place for him in the association. Dr. Kazdin forcefully responded that there was indeed a place for him and others like him. In fact, Dr. Kazdin noted, "we need you and your views and we must be more inclusive, more welcoming." He further elaborated on the importance of faith tradition to psychology and to the work of psychologists. Both Dr. Bray and Dr. Anderson provided a voice of support to Dr. Kazdin.
Several questions from APA members focused on the Association's position on psychological care for those with unwanted homosexual attractions. David Pickup, a master's level psychologist currently practicing under supervision, prefaced his question with a statement noting that he was an ex-gay who had been helped transition to heterosexuality and was currently providing re-orientation therapy. He asked if he had a place at the APA table. The APA leaders responded again with one voice: yes. The exchange between Mr. Pickup and Drs. Kazdin and Bray was very positive and concluded with Mr. Pickup's willingness to assist the Association with guidelines for providing care for those who present with unwanted homosexual attractions.
Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, APA member, focused his attention on APA's issuance of statements and positions without the requisite scientific support, citing APA's unsupported claims on homosexuality. According to Dr. Nicolosi, these unsupported claims include APA's statements about the ineffectiveness of psychological care for those with unwanted homosexual attractions, that efforts to change sexual orientation are harmful and that the self-identified homosexual population has no greater rates of emotional disorders than the population in general.
To support his claim, Dr. Nicolosi provided Dr. Kazdin with a 200 page, 800 reference draft document demonstrating that APA had indeed strayed from science on this issue of homosexuality, leading the public to believe that therapy was ineffective for those who were distressed by unwanted attractions and discouraging individuals from seeking psychological care aimed at reducing/eliminating such attractions.
Perhaps, the most dramatic moment in the Town Hall meeting arrived when an audience member inquired about the lack of sociopolitical diversity in APA, citing the apparent lack of diversity of views in the appointment of the task force members to review the recent science on therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. The questioner noted that each member of the task force, with the potential exception on one whose expertise was in evaluation and measurement, could be characterized as representing one view point: gay affirming.
Though many individual scholars such as Dr. Stanton Jones, Dr. Mark Yarhouse, and Dr. George Rekers had immaculate credentials and who support the right of those with unwanted homosexual attractions to receive psychological care aimed at ameliorating those attractions were nominated, not one was included on the committee. The questioner asked, "Is this inclusiveness?"
Dr. Kazdin deferred to Dr. Clinton Anderson, a member of Division 44 (The APA division defined as the "Society for the Psychological Study of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues") and the Director of APA's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office for a response. Dr. Anderson attempted to explain that the nomination process was an open, fair and balanced one. Dr. Nicolosi vehemently noted that Dr. Anderson neglected to mention that all nominations were reviewed by Division 44 which subsequently forwarded their recommendations for the task force to President Sharon Stephens Brehm. And Division 44 has only one world view: that homosexuality is both innate and immutable, a view that finds no support in the research literature.
Dr. Nicolosi commented, "It's this kind of doublespeak from Clinton Anderson that is a clear indication of the activism and deception behind such statements of diversity." He further noted, "Where is the real diversity when those APA members and scholars whose views differ with those of Division 44 are summarily dismissed?" A spirited exchange occurred between Dr. Nicolosi and Dr. Anderson. Audience members seem visibly concerned about this discussion which was followed by other questions regarding APA's statements and positions on homosexuality, a theme that clearly dominated this Town Hall Meeting.
Town Hall Meeting summary statements by the APA leadership re-emphasized the importance of diversity of world views and the importance of an inclusive, welcoming APA.