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The Need for a Therapist

What about the necessity for a therapist? Apart from extreme exceptions, the principle to remember is: One cannot go it alone. Normally, the person who tries to work himself through his neurotic complex badly needs another person to guide or coach him. In our culture, a psychotherapist is one who specializes in this work. Unfortunately, many psychotherapists are not qualified for helping homosexuals overcome their complex as they have hardly any idea of what this condition is about and share the prejudice that nothing can or should be done about it. So, for many who want to change but cannot find a professional helper, the “therapist” must be a person with a good dose of common sense and normal psychological insights, one who knows how to observe and has experience in guiding people. He should possess a good intelligence and be effective in establishing a rapport. Above all, he must have a balanced, normal personality and sound morals. He may be a pastor, minister, or priest, a physician, a teacher, a social worker — although these professions do not automatically guarantee therapeutic talents. I would advise the homosexually afflicted person to ask someone he senses has enough of the above qualities to guide him. Let the willing amateur therapist see himself as a helping older friend, a father, not having any scientific pretensions, but one who soberly uses his brains and normal human wisdom. He must learn something about the homosexual condition, no doubt, and I offer him this work to enhance his insight. It is not advisable, however, to read too many books on the subject, as much of the literature tends to confuse the reader.

The “client” needs a guide. He has to ventilate his emotions, express his thoughts, tell his life-story. He must discuss how his homosexuality came about, how his complex functions. He must be encouraged to fight in a regular, quiet, and sober way; he must also be checked in his fighting. Everyone who wants to play a musical instrument knows that it will not work without regular lessons. The teacher explains, corrects, stimulates; the pupil works from lesson to lesson. So it is with any form of psychotherapy.

Sometimes, “ex-homosexuals” help others to overcome their problem. They have the advantage of knowing the inner life and difficulties of the homosexual from firsthand experience. Moreover, if really completely changed, they incorporate for their friends the hopeful possibility of change. Yet I am not always enthusiastic about this undoubtedly well meant solution to the therapeutic solution. A neurosis like homosexuality may have been largely overcome, yet various related neurotic habits and mind-sets, apart from the danger of occasional relapses, may remain for a long time. Functioning as a therapist should in such cases not be attempted too soon; one must have lived for at least five years with a total inner change, including having heterosexual feelings, before taking up such a task. As a rule, however, the “real” heterosexual can best inspire heterosexuality in the homosexual client, and the one who has no problems with his masculine identity can best stimulate masculine self-confidence in one who lacks it. In addition, trying to “cure” others may unconsciously be a self-assertive means for one who is avoiding working seriously on himself. And sometimes, a subtle wish to continue contact with the homosexual “sphere of life” may mingle with the upright intention to help others who are in difficulties he knows so well himself.

The Battle for Normality (1997) Ignatius Press: San Francisco

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