Report from the 2011 Annual NARTH Convention
Past APA President Dr. Nicholas Cummings and NARTH President Dr. Julie Hamilton at the 2011 Convention
November 6, 2011, Phoenix, AZ– This year’s convention theme was “Beyond Political Correctness: Keeping Clients First.” The convention was attended by participants from the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Hungary, and England.
The plenary speakers and workshop presenters shared information related to this year’s theme. In a rousing address, American Psychological Association Past-President Dr. Nicholas Cummings shared his experience from his 60-year career as a psychologist and clinician. Dr. Cummings said that he has always been a champion of gay rights, and during his many years of leadership within the American Psychological Association, he influenced the organization to support many causes, including gay issues. However, as a scientist, he began to have serious concerns over the direction the APA eventually was taking in becoming more influenced by politics than by science. He began to write extensively on the ways that the APA is politically based rather than scientifically based, describing one of his recent books, “Eleven Blunders that Cripple Psychotherapy in America” (Routledge, 2008). He described his own experience in treating homosexuals for various issues, including men and women who were troubled with unwanted homosexual attractions. Dr. Cummings says he personally worked with homosexual clients who went on to marry and live heterosexual lives, confirming the research that reports that change is possible.
Dr. Michael Brown spoke about the cultural influences and political correctness that have led to the spread of scientific misinformation concerning the issue of homosexuality. He encouraged members of NARTH to continue their work of making research available to the public.
Dr. Anthony Duk presented on the history of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) revisions, the impact of the DSM, and his concerns regarding the current revisions expected for the fifth edition.
Workshop speakers presented on various approaches to therapy, including narrative therapy, cognitive therapy, psychodynamic approaches, and family systems theories. Workshops were also offered on treating addictions, dissociative identity disorder, and transgender issues.
In addition to the annual convention, NARTH also offered a one-day training institute for the residents of the Phoenix area, presenting participants with general information on the topic of homosexuality: particularly, what science can and cannot say about homosexuality.
Participants described this information as life-changing for those who seek an alternative to their unwanted homosexual attractions. “Our organization seeks to keep clients’ interests first,” said NARTH co-founder and former president, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, “and to offer hope and alternatives within a difficult cultural climate.”
NARTH President, Dr. Julie Hamilton, added a sobering reminder: “Although it is often considered ‘politically incorrect’ to say that people can change in the area of sexual orientation, the research makes clear that change of sexual orientation is indeed possible. NARTH therapists offer hope and help to clients who have been misled and left hopeless by the mental health profession, and they do so at great risk both personally and professionally.”
As is often the case, this year’s NARTH convention was picketed by gay activists who, Dr. Hamilton said, “seem to lack understanding of NARTH and its mission. Once again they made false claims about our organization, carrying placards with the slogan, ‘Pray away the gay.’ In its 19 years of existence, NARTH has never used or ever promoted that slogan.” NARTH is a scientific organization made up of mental health professionals, not a religious organization. In an effort to reach out to the protestors, two of NARTH’s founders went outside the conference building to dialogue with them. In addition, after the protests, two NARTH leaders set aside time to learn about the lives of some of the protestors and have a respectful dialogue regarding some of their concerns.