What is the relationship between ex-gay therapy and sex offender treatment?

There have been a few recent threads about what you would think if there was gay-straight conversion therapy (aka ex-gay therapy and reparative therapy) that really worked.

I was mentally comparing it with another type of therapy that does have some controversy surrounding it, sex offender treatment as commonly required as a condition of probation or parole for people convicted of crimes such as rape and child molestation. It seems that both sex offending and homosexuality share some common elements, namely sexual desire and sexual behavior.

Is there a common theoretical underpinning for both of these types of therapy? If so, how has sex offender treatment remained an accepted practice while ex-gay therapy is almost universally slammed by psychiatrists as ineffective and possibly harmful?

If not, has there been any significant attempt to use techniques or theories from one and apply them to the other? For example, has anyone tried an ex-gay therapy program that is modeled after programs designed to help men stop molesting children, for example by taking the program as-is and substituting “adult man” for every instance of “child” in the treatment plan? Is there a generally accepted reason that this would not work?

Alternately, do ex-gay therapy techniques show any promise in helping opposite-sex rapists or child molesters, or have they been deemed to be totally ineffective to help people change?

This is NOT a thread to debate the morality of any sexual behavior.

I don't think there is a common theoretical underpinning or even common goals for the two types of therapy.  My understanding of conversion therapy is that the goal is to change a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation. If the orientation remains but the person remains celibate, the therapy has not met its goal. In my experience,  sex offender treatment does not seek to change the offender's orientation, but only the behavior, using similar techniques to those used in treating  substance abuse, tobacco use, obsessive compulsive behavior etc.  If the person continues to be attracted to children or continues to want to rape but doesn't engage in any of the associated behaviors , then the therapy has succeeded in the same way that stop-smoking therapy has worked if the person doesn't smoke- even if he or she still craves cigarettes at times.

We as a society are much more strongly motivated to make sex offenders stop being sex offenders than to make gay people stop being gay; there’s a much stronger consensus that the former is bad than that the latter is. So there may be people interested in applying sex-offender treatment techniques to “homosexuality treatment,” but relatively few people with the resources to support these efforts are interested.

One is conversion the other is aversion.

Gay conversation has not been shown to work. It’s generally regarded as a failed therapeutic model, and at this point not all that ethical to pursue.

Behavioral aversion for pedophiles and rapists can work within limits on a brute force basis if the participant is motivated, drugs are used, and the subject is monitored, but this is expensive and when the drugs and monitoring are pulled or refused you’re often back to square one.

Changing the way sexual attraction impulses are wired in adults is an almost impossible ask.

According to an article I read some years ago (sorry, no cite), gay-to-straight conversions therapy (at least, the particular program being discussed) did involve specific gaythink-aversion therapy. The “patients” (subjects?) were shown homo-erotic materials, paired with aversive stimuli (electric shocks? I don’t recall the details).

It was a “voluntary” program for gays who wanted to become straight, so the people running the program tried to portray it as a non-religious-motivated purely secular service. But that was a fairly thin disguise; it was clearly a religious-motivated program, and there may even have been some question about just how “voluntary” the participants were. (Socially pressured into it by religious family, friends, congregation?)

(ETA: And note again, I read this some years ago, maybe late 1970’s (?) or so, when being gay was still nowhere nearly as “tolerated” as it is now.)

Sorry to be so vague, but the point is: Aversion therapy was being used by a basically faith-based therapy, trying to portray itself as a secular service, and calling itself, in effect, “conversion” therapy.

The result, of course, was that the subjects (patients?) developed an aversion to any gay sex or gay sex thoughts, but that didn’t mean that they developed any attraction to anything hetero-sexual. Rather, they tended to become ambi-sexual-aversive, sickened and repulsed by ANY erotic thoughts, and they weren’t necessarily all too happy about it, except to the extent that they were successfully brainwashed into thinking how blissfully happy they now were.

This was, in part, why orientation-conversion “therapy” began to be so controversial in the first place.

(Sorry, missed edit window.)

“Gay conversation” ? :stuck_out_tongue:

A new innovation in talk-therapy! :smiley:

There’s something important to note : a significant part of therapy for sex offenders is to get them to admit 1) Their factual guilt 2) That they have done wrong instead of rationalize away their actions (*). Otherwise, next time they’ll still think that the 12 yo is a seducer who’s asking for it (or whatever other rationalization).
Though religious driven anti-gay therapy could conceivably include the same thing, (since they’re going to want that gays admit that their behaviour is morally wrong), if a gay register for such a programm, I must assume that he already thinks that what he does is wrong. So, I suppose that this first step is absent in anti-gay therapies.

(*) One condition to be paroled or to have a sentence reduced (at least over here, but I suspect it’s probably the same in other countries) is often that the culprit has (in the opinion of the therapist) admited the wrongness of his actions. The parole board is unlikely to show clemency otherwise. Which makes me wonder how someone who is in fact innocent handle this issue (other kind of criminals don’t have the same hurdle)

Otherwise : my opinion is that therapies for sexual deviations anyway can’t change someone’s attraction. Hence that “success”, be it for sex offenders, homos, or even heteros if such a therapy existed would in any case requires that the offender/sinner :

1)Really accept that what he did is wrong

2)Learn to deal with desires that are going to be unfulfilled
Although in the case of sex offenders, they might not be in fact pedophiles. There are “opportunist” child rapists who have sex with kids simply because it’s “convenient”.

Also, when I say “sex offenders”, I mean pedophiles because rape of adults (or even teenagers) is a different beast. It’s obviously not an issue of sexual orientation.
But I don’t believe for an instant that you’re going to turn a true homosexual or pedophile into someone who’s interested in adult women (by true I mean not already bisexual or attracted to both adults and children). At best, I suppose that aversion therapy might make someone no more attracted to same sex partners/children, but I strongly doubt that even that is possible barring absurdly violent methods.

But does sex-offender treatment work?
Here in Minnesota, we have a special prison/hospital for such people, where they are confined after completing their legal sentences. But in decades of operation, noone has ever been ‘cured’ and released from this institution. Doesn’t seem like treatment works.

No, of course not.
you just started out comparing gay people to psychotic child-rapists, etc.
how could anyone think you were making a moral judgement there?

I’ve wondered about this. I’ve wondered about how professional or unbiased the therapists are. Is the offender treated by a genuine psychological therapist of some sort, or do the “therapy” sessions more resemble star-chamber interrogations by an inquisitor?

Does the therapist have advance knowledge of the prisoner’s case before the therapy starts? Does he know if the defendant has protested that he is factually innocent from Day One? Or does the therapist begin the therapy with an established unfalsifiable fact that the prisoner, having been convicted, is guilty as charged? Or does the therapist begin his therapeutic relationship with the prisoner with a clean slate?

Can the therapist become convinced, by the prisoner’s words and demeanor, that the prisoner is factually innocent? Can he write this up in his report? Can he recommend parole accordingly, or even that the case be re-opened? Would a jail-house sex-offender therapist ever actually do that?

This is correct. Eliminating the source of the sexual attraction that caused the sex offending isn’t the goal of sex offender treatment. If a person is deviantly sexually attracted to children or nonconsenting sex, then no amount of treatment is going to make that go away. The goal of sex offender treatment is to give the offender the tools to avoid reoffending in the future in spite of that deviant attraction. This is done by helping the offender to identify the cognitive distortions that the offender uses to justify the offending to themselves (that 5 year old was already sexually active and came on to me, I don’t actually hurt my victims, etc.), identifying and avoiding triggers and high risk situations that can lead to reoffending, and so on. As to whether it “works,” it can - successful completion of a sex offender treatment program is statistically corellated with lower recidivism rates among sex offender populations.