Can persons who receive psychotherapy offered by religious groups experience a change in their sexual orientation? Is this type of therapy harmful? Jones and Yarhouse's scientifically rigorous and impartially presented study offers startling results that call for a re-examination of current thought that homosexuality is immutable. 420 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.
Is it possible to be an ex gay? Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse present social science research on homosexuality designed to answer the questions:
- Can those who receive religiously-informed psychotherapy experience a change in their sexual orientation?
- Are such programs harmful to participants?
The results show that outcomes for this kind of religiously-informed psychotherapy are similar to outcomes of therapy for other psychological problems. Such programs do not appear to be harmful on average to individuals. This research will be of interest to all those who want to know the latest research on sexual orientation change and the effects of religiously-informeded programs on those who utilize them.
Stanton L. Jones is provost and professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. During his tenure as chair of the psychology department (1984-1996), he led the development of Wheaton's Doctor of Psychology program in clinical psychology. He received his B.S. in psychology from Texas A & M University in 1976, and his M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) degrees in clinical psychology from Arizona State University. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and served on the Council of Representatives, the central governing body of the APA, representing the Psychology of Religion division from 1999 to 2001. In 1994 he was named a Research Fellow of the Evangelical Scholars Program of the Pew Foundation. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Divinity School of the University of Cambridge and a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, for the 1995-1996 academic year. Jones authored the lead article, "Religion and Psychology," for the jointly published in 2000 by the American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press. His article in the March 1994 titled "A Constructive Relationship for Religion with the Science and Profession of Psychology: Perhaps the Best Model Yet," was a call for greater respect for and cooperation with religion by secular psychologists. Jones has also written, with his wife, Brenna, a five-book series on sex education in the Christian family called God's Design for Sex. He is also the coauthor of (with Richard E. Butman) and (with Mark A. Yarhouse) and editor of He has published many other professional and popular articles and chapters.
Mark Yarhouse (PsyD, Wheaton College) is the Hughes Endowed Chair and professor of psychology at Regent University where he directs the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity and is a core faculty member in the doctoral program in clinical psychology. A licensed clinical psychologist, he practices privately in the Virginia Beach area, providing individual, couples, famil,y and group counseling. Yarhouse has published over eighty peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and is author or coauthor of several books, including , , , , and . He serves on the editorial board of the and , and has served as an ad hoc reviewer with .
"Pastors, students, and any who desire to keep abreast of the controversies about homosexuality will benefit from reading this volume."
"Congratulations on your book. It is well and thoughtfully done, and the meticulous adherence to your experimental design gives added weight to your findings. Your carefully executed research demands a substantial and credible reexamination of current, politically driven, politically correct dogma that homosexual orientation is immutable and that the therapeutic address thereof threatens patient well-being. In a best-case scenario, your research might even pursuade the organized mental health movement to return to almost forgotten principles that it is the patient's right to choose, and that the patient has the capacity to do so."
"The authors are to be commended not only for the rigor with which they designed and prosecuted this study, but also for the various clever means they used to obtain methodological reviews and other necessary feedback from experts who were opposed to the very idea of the study."
"The authors remind us of their awareness of the sensitivity and controversy of the subject matter. They are constantly restating the methodology they used to address the topic of changing sexual orientation. The authors do make an intelectually cogent case that various passages in both Testaments do (literally, and by implication) condemn homosexual activity per se, but admit that others are free to interpret these passages differently. They challenge some widely accepted results of identical twin studies that supposedly support concordance and the likelihood of genetic causes. The overall conclusions is that in some focused programs with a religious or faith-based purpose, some homosexuals do 'change.'"
"Psychologists have long championed and cared for the 'other' of our society--the weird, the abnormal, the minority and the less powerful. Although this book may at first appear to attack the other--in this case, those who consider themselves gay--this book is the other of psychological research. This book addresses ideas that are other than the ideas of psychology's power centers and power brokers. It addresses questions about homosexuality that are not asked by the mainstream and the majority of our discipline. Yet, like most any 'other,' it deserves a hearing, whether or not we agree with it. It especially deserves a hearing because it follows the principles of those who deserve hearings in psychology--careful scholarship and empirical rigor."
"This study is a groundbreaking classic--scientifically erudite and clearly presented. It shares irrefutable data gained over time that serve to explode arguments based on ideology and anecdotes. Its irenic and thoughtful discussion invites an open forum where scientific evidence and rational thinking are allowed to dominate discussion of the subject."
"Can some motivated people alter aspects of their sexuality through religious ministry? With the publication of Ex-Gays? Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse have produced the most rigorous study to date to address this question. Knowing their results would generate controversy, the authors have thoroughly described the rationale for their procedures. While the authors fully acknowledge that change in sexual attractions did not occur for some individuals, they offer cogent and compelling reasons to believe that participation in religious ministry resulted in durable changes for others. The Jones and Yarhouse study will set the standard for all future work in this field and demands a serious reading from social scientists. For anyone interested in the study of sexuality, values and human change, this book is a must-read."
"Research in the controversial area of homosexuality is fraught with ideology and plagued by a dearth of science. This study has broken new ground in its adherence to objectivity and a scientific precision that can be replicated and expanded, and it opens new horizons for investigation. It is the kind of scientific research I had in mind when in the mid-1970s I introduced my successful resolution in the APA Council of Representatives that homosexuality is not a disease, but a complex constellation of factors that requires scientific investigation to further our understanding of its etiology, its many parameters and its subjectivity to change. I have waited over thirty years for this refreshing, penetrating study of an imperative, though controversial, human condition. This book is must-reading for psychotherapists and counselors, as well as academic psychologists studying human behavior and sexuality."
"Professors Jones and Yarhouse provide a well-designed, conceptually and philosophically sophisticated longitudinal study of intervention efforts aimed at changing homosexual orientation. Their data address the question, Is such change possible? They also cogently address related controversial questions such as the ethical issues involved. They embody all the characteristics of first-rate scholarship (for example, they modestly note the methodological limitations of their study). However, this is a groundbreaking study that will hopefully be judged by the normal standards of scholarship rather than be prejudged by its religious element or its tentative positive results."
"With this landmark study, Drs. Jones and Yarhouse have made a major contribution to a controversial area. The findings from their study support the importance of client autonomy and client self-determination as therapists provide a range of options to those who seek help for unwanted same-sex attraction. The book is required reading for those interested in the best practices and evidence-based care for this clinical population."