Wednesday, May 24, 2006

CNN Features Fake Therapist

I didn't see the "conversion therapy" segment on CNN last night, but the transcript is available online. I also don't have access to it from the computer I'm on right now, but I think you can watch the video HERE.

The segment features an interview with Richard Cohen, a prominent spokesman for the "ex-gay" movement, if you can call it that. Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethical violations in 2002. He practices psychotherapy without a license. He has his own "theory," which is supported by exactly zero research. He claims to be able to make gay guys straight.

Here's some from the CNN transcript:
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you've been watching "The Sopranos" on HBO, then you know the secret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you tell lies so long you don't know when to stop.

FEYERICK: Vito, a mob guy, married with kids, on the run, knowing he'll be killed because he's gay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are these church groups. They could cure you of this.

FEYERICK: While it may sound like a plot line, the reaction from Vito's TV wife that there's a cure is very real. And it's a reaction many gay people and their families wonder about in the beginning. Is it possible to change, to not be gay.

There are groups who believe that it is possible. Some use religion. Others more unusual techniques. More on that in a moment. But whether it's faith based or secular, Dr. Jack Drescher of the American Psychiatric Association says the practice of so-called conversion therapy is dangerous.

DR. JACK DRESCHER, AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOC.: People who have done anything approximating a scientific report admit that the majority of people who try to change their sexual orientation do not change.

FEYERICK: And yet this man, who tells us he was once gay, claims to have helped hundreds of men like him.

Richard Cohen, now married with three kids, is a leader in the so-called reparative therapy movement. With just more than 1,000 members it is not a particularly big movement, but because it's so controversial and despised within the gay community it tends to get a lot of attention.

(on camera): What you're suggesting is that being gay is a switch you can turn on or off.

RICHARD COHEN, CONVERSION THERAPIST: People have a right to determine how they wish to live their life. If they choose to live a gay life, great, OK. But to say I have to live as a gay man because I had those desires, that's discrimination.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Cohen, who had several boyfriends, spent years in various kinds of therapy searching for answers. It wasn't until he remembered being sexually abused by a man when he was a child that what he calls his convergence process began,

COHEN: I knew it wasn't for me. I knew it in my gut I wasn't born this way.

FEYERICK: Cohen is an unlicensed therapist. He offers the theory that some kind of childhood trauma triggers homosexuality. All it takes is figuring out what it is, healing from it and moving on. One of his clients is a 42 year old program analyst who we'll call Rob. Because it is such a sensitive subject, he asked us to shield his identity.

He began seeing Cohen three years ago after years of struggling with unwanted homosexual feelings.

"ROB", CONVERSION THERAPY CLIENT: I had a mother that basically committed emotional incest with me because they had a very bad marriage. She used me as her husband, a stand-in.

FEYERICK: Cohen explains Rob's same-sex attraction is typical of the men he treats. Cold, distant dad, overbearing mom and overly sensitive kid. He showed us some of his unconventional techniques like touch therapy, in which he encouraging Rob to seek out same-sex mentors to basically re-create a healthy father-son bond. PAULA ZAHN NOW

In case you haven't heard any of this stuff before, you should know that this is a line used by anti-gay psychotherapists, but there is no research anywhere, ever, that supports the idea that these kinds of family dynamics have anything to do with a person turning out gay.

Also, I saw some screenshots of this, and I think that at this time in the interview this other guy is lying on a couch hugging Richard Cohen. As John Aravosis at AmericaBlog says, "You have to see this part of the segment, it's creepy as hell."
COHEN: It's nonsexual. It establishes like parent-child relationship. So he didn't experience this growing up with his dad. FEYERICK (on camera): Rob, do you feel a sexual connection right now?

ROB: No, I don't. I feel very safe and very comforted and it just feels wonderful.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Another technique, bioenergetics, designed to help clients release memories stored in the muscles, in this case by hitting a pillow with a tennis racket.

COHEN: I was angry at my mother. So I started saying, mom! mom! mom! mom! Why did you do that to me?

FEYERICK: So is being gay a matter of nature or nurture? Doctors say they don't know for sure. There is no gay gene and no definitive scientific proof that one's family or environment triggers same-sex attraction.

That's why mainstream mental health experts have such a huge problem with Cohen and those like him who promote reparative therapy as legitimate.

It is my understanding that the "problem" these professional groups have with quacks like Cohen has to do with the damage they cause to their clients and the confusion they generate in the minds of the public with their fake theories and crazy fake-therapies.

But who am I to say?
DRESCHER: It's like this person has landed on Earth from Mars and is doing things that the rest of us don't believe in and that we don't do. And it's just unfortunate that there are people who are willing to accept because of their desperate homosexual feelings, to accept these kinds of treatments.

FEYERICK: 48-year-old Xavier Yager sent spent five years in reparative therapy.

XAVIER YAGER, FORMER THERAPY CLIENT: It drove me to the edge of suicide, several times.

FEYERICK: He says it was so damaging, it took years to recover.

YAGER: From my farthest back recollection, I was always gay. I just tried -- you know, they always say it's a choice to be gay. I chose to try to be straight. And I found it was unattainable.

FEYERICK: Yager is now happily gay. Rob is also happy, but for the opposite reason.

ROB: I know what I'm experiencing. I know the freedom that I feel now. And as a result of the work, I don't have same-sex attractions anymore.

(Let's come back and ask him again in five years, ok?)
FEYERICK: He's even been chatting with women on the Internet, hoping to line up dates.

(on camera): Do you see yourself now as an ex-gay?

ROB: I see myself now as a much happier person.

FEYERICK (voice-over): A person who seems to have found his own inner peace. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Bowie, Maryland. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Richard Cohen says he counsels some women, but the majority of his clients are men.

Now, the pictures in our next story are absolutely incredible. Watch this closely. How did a family and their cat get out of this burning apartment alive? We'll show you.

I love that ending, the cat gets out of the burning apartment ... it's one thing and then another, foks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cohen hugging men..well he said the same thing in his W Post item before. Cohen appears to be getting his own needs met by hugging these men under the guise of "his therapy."

"Ex-gay" Cohen is just still apparently a re-closeted gay while hugging his way through his own pain of denial at being gay himself.


May 24, 2006 5:08 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Re Richard Cohen's expulsion from the American Counseling Association, see

See also the article from the Washington Post,,
which includes Cohen's "explanation" of his expulsion.

May 24, 2006 10:25 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

See this report (which I have pasted below):


See also the article from the Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.
which includes Cohen's "explanation."

May 24, 2006 10:29 PM  
Blogger andrear said...

CNN says Cohen is an unlicensed therapist but gave him air time. When is the CNN piece on psychic surgery?

May 25, 2006 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Bookkeeper said...

Can someone please tell us why the IRS is not investigating this quack for tax evasion?

According to the Washington Post article noted above, "He conducts individual therapy at a cost of $150 for an hour-long session, as well as telephone classes for "strugglers" and their relatives...All of his work, he said, is conducted under the auspices of the International Healing Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization he founded in 1990 to treat what he calls unwanted SSA -- same-sex attraction.

He is not licensed as a therapist, he explained, because he "didn't want to jump through the hoops and deal with the heterophobia and anti-ex-gay attitudes." He circumvents the licensing requirement by asking for donations to his foundation."

It sounds like Cohen is circumventing tax law by jumping through the tax evasion hoop. Is it legal to claim $150 per hour unlicensed therapy fees as donations to a nonprofit?

May 25, 2006 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you see in the video link Jim K provided Cohen hugging "his patient" on the couch you get why he was expelled from American Counseling Association and get why he is a quack.


May 25, 2006 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of loons! Like Galileo, Cohen is being persecuted for daring to question the status quo. The problem the establishment has with him is not his results but his goal. Freudian pschotherapy has never been proven effective and yet psychiatrists all over the Western world still practice it. Anybody calling for their expulsion? Of course not.

Library Lounge Lizard

May 25, 2006 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What therapist "loves up" their "patients?" Questioning/talking is one thing getting physical with a "patient" quite another.


May 25, 2006 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Bookkeeper said...

I agree Gracie. Gay teens getting physical with the supposedly ex-gay Cohen-quack is high on the ick scale.

Lizzy, Galileo had proof of his claims. If the Cohen-quack's got proof of his claims, he does a great job of hiding it.

An ex-gay man ... good at hiding things. Imagine that.

Unlike the Cohen-quack, members of the American Psychoanalytic Association adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. Here are some excerpts that address two of the Cohen-quack's unethical practices:

"Physical touching is not ordinarily regarded as a technique of value in psychoanalytic treatment. If touching occurs, whether of the patient by the psychoanalyst or the psychoanalyst by the patient, such an event should alert the psychoanalyst to the potential for misunderstanding of the event by the patient or the psychoanalyst, and consequent harm to the future course of treatment and consultation should be considered. Consultation should be considered if there is concern about the future course of treatment."

"It is not ethical for a psychoanalyst to solicit financial contributions from a current or former patient or the parent/guardian of a current or former patient for any purpose."

That would include Mr. Cohen's nonprofit organization where he claims unlicensed therapy fees as tax-free contributions.

Not that any of these codes have any bearing on the Cohen-quack who was expelled for life from the American Counseling Association. These ethical codes are for medical doctors who specialized in psychiatry followed by years of extra training in psychoanalysis.

May 25, 2006 4:39 PM  
Blogger grantdale said...

I think it's worth adding -- for the record -- that Richard Cohen is, apart from the obvious, also the President of PFOX.

You'd remember them, no doubt? :)

May 26, 2006 5:36 AM  
Blogger andrear said...

"Heterophobia"- poor Cohen -so many people hate straight people. That is exactly why I didn't become a heart surgeon- so I just operate in my kitchen. As you can imagine- as with Cohen- I am totally unsuccessful in helping my patients- but I get those fees up front and funnel them- uh- I mean -have the patients make contributions to a fine organization "Doctors without Degrees"

May 26, 2006 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor TTF. How much smoke they make to obscure the fact that "talk" therapies have never been proven effective by any study but only this one results in someone's expulsion? Sounds like bias against ex-gays.

And how about this?

"Questioning/talking is one thing getting physical with a "patient" quite another."

So hugging is ethical? Please. What a bunch of hypocrites!


May 30, 2006 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh...LLL.... when is a therapist supposed to be hugging patients under the guise of therapy?

Go ahead and try to justify Cohen's sick "therapy"...but his "therapy" does not pass the snicker test.

Cohen is getting his own "therapy" it appears in that as a recloseted gay this would be a good way for him to be physically close to men and still pretend he is an "exgay."

Cohen asking for "donations" is a joke in that he is asking his so called "patients" to pay him for his own therapy needs being meet. While he hugs all those men privately in his office he would probably love to be doing it in public.


May 31, 2006 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cohen wasn't expelled because of this "study." This blog isn't about a "study" anyway, it's about a news report by CNN.

Cohen was expelled in 2002 by his peers, other professional counselors, who were members of the American Counseling Assocation because his actions violated their rules of ethics and practice.

May 31, 2006 1:49 PM  
Blogger Chixav said...

Hi all, I was the Gay man that entered therapy nearly 20 years ago and could not change......Thank you all for your comments and statements. I did a search this morning and found the bizarre entries at Ex-Gay Watch......I was described by one person as looking stressed and unhappy and that the reason I was depressed was because I could not change......nothing could be farther from the truth. I was moved into a deep depression as a result of the treatment undergone by the "therapists" I subjected myself to. The danger lies in the manipulation and attempted mind control that "patients" are put through. I wish CNN had done a better job of showing my side of the story.......I went into detail and it appears it wasn't hyped enough for them to use in the piece on the Paula Zahn Show. Even though I was able to have some impact, I think people were left with a lopsided story........I hope they reconsider and get the real story.

June 15, 2006 10:03 AM  

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