News

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  • February 20, 2016 7:23 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    The South Dakota legislature has passed a dangerous bill, HB 1008, that is now on the desk of Governor Dennis Daugaard. This law decrees that "Every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex." This prevents all trans students from using restrooms which are consistent with their gender identity. This not only stigmatizes trans students, but potentially places them in a hostile environment. Therefore the Gaylesta Board, with Board Member Jeanna Eichenbaum taking the lead, has sent a letter to the Governor, asking him to veto this bill (to read the letter, go to this link). In addition, we would like to alert everyone to a petition on Change.org that also urges him to veto it:

    https://www.change.org/p/governor-dennis-daugaard-protect-trans-students-veto-h-b-1008-sdpottypolice

  • February 10, 2016 4:53 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Dear Colleagues:
    As mentioned in the post-retreat Board report, a Gaylesta team has set up an initiative matching formerly incarcerated people with interested and experienced therapists. We are excited to announce that the project is now under way. The first clients have been matched with therapists – and there are more in the pipeline.


    We have now met with three reentry organizations eager to provide clients for services:  Project Rebound, at SF State, Waypass at City College, and the Transgender Justice Institute.

    Will you consider providing one or two pro bono slots in your caseload for individuals exiting jail or prison? These would include, but not be limited to LGBTQIA clients.

    If you would like to get involved, please contact us with any questions or concerns. To make this work, we would appreciate if you can provide us with the following information to guide us in making a good match:

    1. How many slots can you offer?
    2. At what address will you see clients?
    3. What is your availability? Do you have a specific time or times that you may be available?
    4. Within that framework, do you prefer that we set up the initial meeting, or do you prefer that client contact you to set the first session?
    5. Are there any client characteristics or clinical issues that you feel would make an individual an unsuitable match for you?

     A consultation group will be available if  there is interest.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Judy Siff jsiff@sbcglobal.net 
    Nathalie Paven  npaven@earthlink.net
     Did you know that the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration of any nation in the world (http://www.prisonpolicy.org/global)?  That prisoners in the U.S. are overwhelmingly Black or Brown?  That one in four Black people will be incarcerated in their life?  Sometimes the gravity of social injustice is so vast, that it is difficult to figure out where or how to make a difference. As individuals, many of us choose a path of social justice activism – yet the question remains – is there anything we can do specifically within our profession itself?  Although that is more a statement than a question, this project speaks to utilizing our particular skill set in a meaningful way.

  • November 13, 2015 5:15 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Following the polling of our membership on suggested name changes for our organization, the Gaylesta Board reviewed the results of that survey during our Board Retreat November 7th-8th. None of the suggested names were viewed with much favor by members, but there was consensus about a revision to the tag line of Gaylesta. Therefore, from this point forward we will be known as "Gaylesta: The Psychotherapist Association for Gender and Sexual Diversity." We will continue to explore options for new names.

  • November 08, 2015 11:55 AM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    A recent petition was started by unidentified individuals on Change.org , calling on the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and others to remove transgender people from the modern LGBT movement. We as an organization reject this hateful and divisive petition. As HRC responded, “We are one movement, stronger in our unity. We are one community, period."


    The Board of Gaylesta

  • June 26, 2015 8:20 AM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    At long last, the Supreme Court of the United States has come out with its ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, and thanks to the majority opinion (another 5-4 split court decision, with Justice Kennedy writing the opinion and joined by Justices Sotomayor, Ginsberg, Kagan and Breyer) same-sex couples throughout the United States are guaranteed the right to marriage. This opinion eloquently affirms what we might hope would be true of the U.S. Constitution and of this nation. You can read the Supreme Court decision from the link on the Gaylesta website here.


    I believe that one of the powerful statements is the following:


    "The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed."


    Kennedy reaffirms the importance of the Court in moving certain issues beyond political debates and majority legislative votes to established legal principles.


    We have much to celebrate this weekend! Not only this, but the victory in New Jersey, where a jury ruled against JONAH ("Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing"), and found "conversion therapy" to be bogus and abusive, meeting the State's definition of consumer fraud. That decision may be the beginning of the end of "conversion therapy" for adults as well as minors.

  • June 22, 2015 1:05 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Dear Gaylestans,

    Guy Albert and Jim Walker offer this midyear update about our efforts since our presentation to the Mental Health Liaison Group and our meetings with the American Psychological Association and Congressional staffers in April in Washington, DC. Guy and Jim have been engaged in extensive outreach to national organizations asking them to join our workgroup whose purpose is to issue a joint statement declaring “conversion therapy” unethical and harmful for anyone. Our hope is that all the major medical and psychological bodies in the U.S. will join us.  

    Our workgroup already includes representatives from AASECT, NASW, ACA, The Trevor Project, HRC, National Association of School Psychologists, the LGBT-Affirmative Therapist Guild of Utah, American Psychoanalytic Association and Clinical Social Work Association. We continue doing intensive outreach with the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, AMA, SAMSHA, the Surgeon General, the American Academy of Nursing and other major national organizations hoping they will join us.
     
    If you have contacts in key national health organizations who could help us with our outreach, please contact us.
     
    Major national health organizations declaring conversion therapy unethical and harmful would be greatly beneficial. It would provide guidance to the public and would contribute to more extensive legal protections. Those protections would come on state and federal levels. For example, our effort would lend substantial support to Congressman Ted Lieu’s Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which faces many hurdles in Congress. https://lieu.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-lieu-announces-therapeutic-fraud-prevention-act
     
    Ted Lieu was the California state senator who introduced the bill several years ago that became the law protecting youth from conversion therapy in California by licensed providers. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act and our joint national statement are aimed at protecting everyone from the unethical, harmful and fraudulent practices of conversion therapy whether it is focused on sexual orientation, gender identity or both.


    Jim Walker, LMFT

    Email Jim


    Guy Albert, PhD

    Email Guy

  • April 09, 2015 8:30 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Jim Walker and Guy Albert, two members of Gaylesta's Advocacy Committee, traveled to Washington DC to give a presentation on April 3rd to the Mental Health Liaison Group, a consortium of mental health-related professional organizations in the U.S. Their aim was to advocate for these organizations to join together in condemning "sexual orientation change efforts" (SOCE) or "conversion therapy" as unethical. Their presentation was well-received and we are confident that dialogue has begun among representatives from these concerned organizations to yield such a statement. The abstract of their presentation is reproduced below; if interested, the PowerPoint presentation may also be viewed by clicking on the link below the abstract:


    “Conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” are a hodgepodge of change efforts misnamed as therapy. They are meant to help people suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) and gender dysphoria. Even practitioners of these methods have difficulty demonstrating that what they do is ethically and theoretically sound. “Conversion” practices are harming people in noticeable numbers. In 2015, the major healthcare organizations of the United Kingdom issued a joint Memorandum of Understanding declaring “conversion therapy” unethical. Their memorandum also signaled collaborations across organizations for improved healthcare education. Action in the U.K. offers U.S. healthcare associations a potential model for addressing significant harms in a complex therapeutic environment. We ask all MHLG member associations to join a working group to produce a U.S. equivalent of the U.K.’s joint collaborations.


    To access the PowerPoint presentation as a PDF file:

    http://www.gaylesta.org:80/resources/Documents/Toward-a-Joint-Statement.pdf

    To access the PowerPoint presentation (this is a large file):

    http://www.gaylesta.org:80/resources/Documents/Toward-a-Joint-Statement.pptx


  • January 12, 2015 3:48 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    At its meeting on January 11th, the Gaylesta Board of Directors approved a Code of Ethical Principles for its members. As of today, it may be found on the Gaylesta website.


    The Board encourages you to review it; we feel it articulates Gaylesta's beliefs and principles with respect to the practice of psychotherapy with LGBTQIQA clients. The effort to develop a Gaylesta Code of Ethical Principles was initiated by Board member Judy Siff. The code was co-authored by her and Jay Paul, with input from other members of the Board. It may be reached via the drop-down menu under "About", or you may go directly to it by clicking on this link: http://gaylesta.org/code-of-ethics

  • December 11, 2014 7:02 AM | Myles Downes (Administrator)

    Part of Gaylesta’s charter is to “promote awareness among mental health workers of cross-cultural issues such as race/ethnicity, age, ability, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, and class.”

    Gaylesta stands in solidarity with the organizations and individuals who are voicing their concerns about the social injustices of our time. Along with those who are nonviolently protesting, we grieve the early deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and other people of color who have died due to excessive force from the police.  As LGBTQ mental health professionals, we know the cost of inequality and we acknowledge and honor the grief, anger, and frustration that is being felt at this time. We urge clinicians to educate themselves as to the institutionalized racism embedded in our society and to support the growing movement to demand its eradication.

    To find out more about the movement that is underway, go to Blacklivesmatter.com.


    Gaylesta Board of Directors and Advocacy Committee

  • September 22, 2014 8:07 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Statement by Beth Greivel:

    Thank you for this time to speak.  I’m Elizabeth Greivel, and I’m the author of the proposal to ban the practice of sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE for short, in the Code of Ethics. My motivation for being here today is rooted in four years of volunteer work for the GLBT National Hotline, where during every shift I would hear callers who, because of fear of rejection or abuse, found it safer to talk to a stranger than their loved ones or therapists about their sexual orientations or gender identities.  Many of these callers had suffered from or were in the middle of SOCE therapies, and the despair they felt was palpable over the telephone lines, that their therapists did not understand a core notion of their humanity.

    It can be difficult to grasp the concept of SOCE and how much they hurt the LGBTQIQA population.  Let me offer a metaphor I’ve found helpful.

    Imagine that we as a society are uncomfortable with those who are tall. People under 5’ 10” are okay, but those over 6’? They’re just too tall. They make up less than 10% of the population, but we think that they expect too much special treatment. Specially made clothes ... basketball is just flaunting things. They say tallness is all biology, but throughout history, people were shorter. Is it genetics? Do they eat too many vegetables?

    If Michael Jordan grew up in that environment, he'd be a pariah. His therapist might have to fight internal biases to make sure Michael was supported as he naturally is. I would certainly hope Michael would not end up in an SOCE-like therapy where he was encouraged to stoop or even crawl to make everyone else feel more comfortable with his natural height.

    This is the essence of SOCE. Individuals are in pain because social or religious values have told them that an integral part of who they are is inadequate or deviant. Then they are met with insidious efforts where "change" means making an individual feel worse about themselves for being different, and being encouraged to act like someone they are not. The net result being an increased risk of depression and suicidality.

    I have two requests.
    1. Push the proposal I submitted to ban SOCE in the Code of Ethics through the Ethics Committee as quickly as possible. We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of mental health organizations by banning these harmful practices that do not work.
    2. In the interim, accept the excellent proposed SOCE statement Ms. Atkins drafted, and strengthen it so that it is clear that it applies to ALL AGES, and that the onus of responsibility for checking bias is on the therapist, not the client or patient. Every other mental health organization has done at least this, and our credibility are undermined by not meeting the Standard of Practice.
    Lives are at stake here.  Members of CAMFT are actively causing harm. Therapists who have admitted in writing to practicing SOCE on minors have been referred to CAMFT under our current Code of Ethics, and have not been found in violation.  

    Whether it’s a minor or an adult -- SOCE are false and harmful practices not worthy of the name Marriage and Family Therapist, and CAMFT needs to do more to protect the LGBTQIQA population. This is a clinical issue.



    Statement by James Guay:

    CAMFT needs to prioritize the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer clients undefined sexual and gender minorities undefined over the income and licensure of psychotherapists who are harming them.  Therapist should not be protected when they recklessly abandon their basic tenet of “do no harm,” misuse therapeutic tools to harm their clients and exhibit extreme prejudice in doing so.


    Therapists are not in the business of helping our clients become more fake, inauthentic, or to deceive themselves or others.  We are in the business of healing and growth, of compassion and authenticity.

    California State’s Legislature, Governor, and Supreme Court, along with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and US Supreme Court in addition to all other major professional association, have sided on the rights/protections of LGBTQ youth from psychotherapists using sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

    CAMFT undefined as a professional association for MFT’s, not a legislative or judicial body undefined can and should go an important step further to make a strong statement against the use of SOCE on minors AND adults.  Fraudulent and abusive practices are fraudulent and abusive practices, regardless of the age of the client.  There is more than enough evidence and support out there for CAMFT to take action.  There doesn’t need to be a special committee or resources used within CAMFT to figure out that this is an ineffective and harmful practice.

    There is no slippery slope here in regulating theoretical orientations or treatment modalities because SOCE is abusive, culturally incompetent and treating a “non-existent disorder” that is no longer in the DSM.  SOCE therapists prey on their clients’ internalized homophobia to try and effect change.  They misappropriate psychological language and social justice terminology to advocate harming LGBTQ clients and it needs to stop.  CAMFT needs to send a strong message that this practice is no longer permissible. The public also needs to be protected from the exploitative teaching of SOCE to other clinicians.

    There are several benefits for CAMFT making a strong & bold statement against SOCE for youth AND adults.  These include:


    • Increased credibility & legitimacy (aka public trust) of MFT’s for being in synch with the most current scientific research available;
    • Increased institutional and professional integrity when we prioritize client/public protection over clinician’s income or practice;
    • Increased institutional cultural competence and value provided to LGBTQ clients, therapists and their allies;
    • and, increased time-savings and better allocation of resources when demonstrating pro-active ethical integrity.


    This isn’t about politics, this is about protection.  It is unacceptable to use the excuse that CAMFT is a slow moving organization and that small steps are sufficient.

    Be bold.  

    Protecting clients protects legitimate and responsible clinicians.  I urge you to come out strongly against SOCE on minors AND adults!  Anything less is negligent and harmful.

    Let’s move forward in the right direction, together.



    Statement by Jim Walker:

    My name is Jim Walker and I deeply appreciate speaking today.


    I’m passionate that no shame or prejudice is inflicted by our profession on LGBTQ people.

    Recently I worked with a client who deeply regretted trying SOCE.

    Several years before starting therapy with me, his son came out to him and his mother. My client told him he disapproved. He told him he was sinning.

    At the same time he hurt her so much, he struggled constantly with his same-sex attractions. Being very involved in his church was at the center of his life. He knew others in his church struggled with being gay and bi. He tried SOCE with a psychologist. He dedicated himself to it spending thousands of dollars. He told me attempting SOCE really hurt him psychologically and made him unable to help his son and others in his church.

    SOCE failed. Their marriage ended. He not only had to heal from the damage SOCE did to him, he had to repair the damage he had done to everyone in his family and his church.

    After he started accepting himself, they were able to repair some of that damage and he was able to work for marriage equality in his faith.

    Today you have the opportunity to do something important about our clients’ suffering.

    Thanks to the remarkable Beth Greivel you have a proposal involving needed ethics code changes.

    Over 880 members and 6 chapters want you to endorse that proposal this weekend.
     
    The other proposal before you was prepared by CAMFT.

    That proposal needs to say SOCE is not ethical for CAMFT members. 

    Earlier this year 9 former leaders of SOCE apologized for many years of exploiting people’s hopes and fears. They wrote:

    "As former "ex-gay" leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy.

    It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives."

    This weekend show you’re committed to protecting clients from SOCE.

    Send Beth’s proposal to the Ethics Committee and issue a statement to the membership that SOCE is not an ethical practice for our members.

    As the former SOCE leaders said, “It is much more productive to support, counsel and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.”

    Thank you.



    Statement by Jay Paul:

    My name is Jay Paul; thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I have been a CAMFT member since 1988. However, as a gay man, in recent years I felt alienated and questioned whether this organization truly represented me. My hope is that this is a significant time of change for CAMFT. I urge you to expedite the adoption of Elizabeth Greivel’s proposed additions to the CAMFT Code of Ethics.


    Others’ eloquence about the risks of harm to clients from SOCE, allows me to focus on another concern raised by these practices. To do that, I need first mention the famous 1978 Bell & Weinberg study, “Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men & Women.”

    The researchers asked their sample whether they would currently wish to take a “magic pill” which would change their sexuality to heterosexuality. A brief means of assessing satisfaction versus discomfort with their sexuality. As it turned out, relatively few expressed interest in such a pill.

    SOCE practitioners will argue that they are providing a service to those who wish for that magic pill. However as healthcare professionals, we cannot uncritically indulge our clients’ wishes. The Internet and TV may convince people that they have a diagnosable disorder, and that a particular medication will be a panacea. However when they follow up with a physician, a competent doctor should be aware of viable alternatives, and can provide a more realistic perspective on diagnoses, treatments and suitable options.

    Similarly, a client may come to us in great distress, believing that their sexual orientation is pathological, immoral and/or a deficiency, insisting that their only hope is to become heterosexual. As in the pill analogy, our necessary next step should entail exploring a client’s situation and desires in an unbiased manner. Paradoxically, this is something that is outside the scope of clinical competence of those offering SOCE.

    Their theoretical perspectives and so-called “therapeutic” strategies indicate that they are woefully ill-informed about sexual orientation. Those who advocate SOCE ascribe legitimacy to long-debunked myths of the “causes” of homosexuality, and to curative strategies that meld sexual orientation and gender role behavior.

    Their biases mean that they are neither informed about nor competent to work with LGBTQ clients. They lack detailed knowledge of the LGBTQ communities and social resources, same-sex relationships, and the impact of social stigmatization on well-being and mental health. Further, they have a built-in bias to attribute an LGBTQ individual’s distress to their sexual orientation rather than life circumstance unrelated to their sexuality.

    Being capable only of efforts directed at moving someone AWAY from an LGBTQ identity, they are not equipped to explore a client’s sources of conflict or distress and find alternative resolutions.

    By forbidding SOCE with clients of any age, you are telling a category of providers that they lack the necessary training to truly serve a class of patients.

    Thank you.

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