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May I ask your evaluation of the Shidlo and Schroeder study, which appears to have arrived at conclusions so directly opposed to Spitzer's study?
Glad you asked...
The study you referred to was published along with mine in the June 2002 issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (see my website for this study). Shidlo and Schroeder's study is the only peer reviewed study I know about that systematically sought to examine those who say they tried reorientation counseling but were not happy with the results.
The difference in the outcomes of Shidlo and Schroeder and Spitzer (2003) is all about sampling. Shidlo and Schroeder advertised on the Internet and other places, specifically looking for people who felt harmed by attempts to change sexual orientation. Spitzer was looking for people who felt they had changed and were happy about it. Both studies were convenience samples, meaning the authors deliberately sought a certain type of participant. Nothing is random about either study so individually they say nothing about how likely or not change is to occur.
Together they offer a quite interesting view of how people differ on an important question. Some people felt helped and others felt harmed. I suspect we will eventually learn that certain factors lead to favorable outcomes and that those factors were absent in the experience of those who were in Shidlo and Schroeder's study.
In 2002, I presented a paper on ex-gay ministries in an APA symposium with Shidlo and Schroeder and offered to look at their data to examine the counseling factors that may have led to the unfavorable outcomes. I have yet to hear from them. Clearly, there are things done in the name of reorientation counseling that are probably harmful but these poor practices do not invalidate the positive findings such as in my literature reviews and the empirical work of Bob Spitzer. People do change sexual identity and some people try to some degree and then for a variety of reasons feel harmed by the effort or the techniques offered as therapy.
Feel free to send any questions you have about counseling for sexual identity
formation to me via this website...
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