UK psychotherapists host first-ever gay and sexual minority conference
| 15th Apr 2009|
|Making amends? UK psychotherapists host first-ever gay and sexual minority conference|
Study reveals that one in six therapists still willing to 'cure' homosexuality
London, 15 April 2009: For the first time ever in the UK, an organisation representing the profession of psychotherapy and counselling is devoting a conference exclusively to the mental health of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and other sexual minorities.
The Working with Gender and Sexual Minorities conference comes in the wake of research that one in six therapists still regard homosexuality as a curable affliction. Professor Mike King of London's Royal Free Hospital will present new data at the conference showing that one in six therapists would agree to try to 'cure' a client who requested treatment to make them heterosexual.
The conference is jointly presented by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the national umbrella organisation of psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors, and Pink Therapy, the largest specialist organisation working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients.
The conference takes place on the same weekend as IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia. This is an awareness day launched a decade ago after the brutal murder of the young gay man Matthew Shepard in October 1998.
IDAHO's date, though, commemorates a previous event in gay history: 17 May 1990 was the day the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases in 1990.
Nearly two decades later, however, Professor King's study of more than 1,400 psychiatrists and therapists found that 222 had treated a client to alter their sexuality at some point, and such practice had not become any less common in recent years.
King told The Independent: "Heaven knows what they do. We didn't attempt to ask them because there is no evidence that anything works. We didn't expect it to be happening at this rate and we are really rather concerned."
The UKCP/Pink Therapy conference is, therefore, a pioneering and overdue event in the history of a profession that has too often regarded homosexuality as constituting a mental illness.
UKCP's Tom Warnecke said: "This conference offers a great opportunity to improve the quality, and raise the profile, of psychotherapy provision to sexual minorities. Sexual and gender minorities continue to report poor experiences of mental health services and I hope this event will contribute to recognise difference and make psychotherapy practice more inclusive and accessible."
Dominic Davies, director of Pink Therapy, said: "Homophobia and heterosexism affects everyone regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. Amongst those directly affected it can cause some serious mental health problems and therapists need to know how best to approach these in order to be effective practitioners. Training in this area is rare and this conference will make a significant contribution to the education of psychotherapists and counsellors.
- ENDS -
Pink Therapy: Dominic Davies 07971 205323
UKCP: Tom Warnecke 07956 970509