Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Jr. explains why reintegrative theory works, and conversion therapy doesn't

By Rachel Alexander Published on September 12, 2018

If there’s one thing that’s completely un-p.c., it’s conversion therapy. It tries to change a gay person’s sexual orientation. Several states have banned the practice for minors. California wants to ban it for adults as well, even when they want it. Its critics mock it as claiming to “pray away the gay.”

All the big professional groups reject it. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all come out against it. So have the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Counseling Association. Even if a homosexual person wants to try to change, no mainline group wants him to try to help patients change this way.

But there’s an alternative.

The Alternative

Reintegrative Therapy™ does not seek to change a patient’s sexual preference. It does not view homosexuality as a disease or use aversion techniques (shame, pain or coercion) to try to force people to change. And it’s not for children.

Reintegrative Therapy views sexuality as “fluid.”

The Patent & Trade Office recently provided a patent for reparative therapy (a former version of reintegrative therapy). Science and clinical psychology form the basis for it.

The therapy seeks to resolve the conflicts behind homosexual attraction, by dealing with childhood trauma. It begins with the idea that early trauma could lead to homosexuality. A domineering mother and a detached father might increase that effect for men.

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi pioneered this new kind of therapy. After his death last year, his son Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Jr., took over the practice. The Stream interviewed him to find out more. The interview has been slightly edited.

How did you decide to follow in your father’s footsteps?

My father was a man of courage and caring. He was an unapologetic warrior for truth on one hand. On the other, a man of deep compassion and empathy for those who aren’t being listened to. I’m continually inspired by his willingness to speak the truth. He never, ever backed down. He had compassion for men who had these unwanted attractions.

See the Movie

The initial response to the documentary Free to Love has been very positive. The Reintegrative Therapy Association commissioned a skeptical Hollywood filmmaker to produce a film on this topic.

Intrigued, he investigated. He met with clients at their homes, asking them the hard questions. The clients gave him very personal access. They answered the deepest, most personal questions people want to know about what it was like going through this process.

What the filmmaker discovered shocked him. Anyone can see it at freetolovemovie.com.

Our culture told them that they were just gay. The only way to be happy was to embrace the gay label. But that didn’t work for them. These were often men who were, as children, sexually abused by someone of the same sex. They would later as adults report that their same-sex attraction wasn’t “who they really are.”

They believed the abuse affected their adult sexuality. Our pop culture ignored these people. It insisted that they must accept the gay label. This same pressure to identify as “gay” was put upon Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others with deeply held beliefs who believed they were designed to be heterosexual.

It was the same thing with those who had been gay-identified for awhile. After several years, they felt unfulfilled and decided to explore heterosexuality instead. But others told them their only choice was to be gay. To do anything else was just to deny who they are.

My father took notice of these people. He heard their perspective and refused to buy the pop-culture narrative. He knew sexuality can change, what we now call “sexual fluidity.” This was before neuroscience began affirming that notion.

Has anything changed since your father led the movement?

This topic was very polarized in the 90s. Back then, people framed it with the question, “Are people born gay, or is it a choice?” Thankfully, the public is slowly rejecting both those ideas. A middle-ground approach emerged. It says that sexuality is fluid for many people. They don’t choose their orientation.

On the other hand, no one has discovered a so-called “gay gene.” Sexuality is far more complex than something that can be boiled down to a mere gene. Advances in neuroscience show us that our life experiences continually impact the brain. This is called “neuroplasticity.” It’s led scientists to acknowledge that sexuality is not set in stone for everyone.

Do the state laws banning conversion therapy apply to reintegrative therapy?

So-called “conversion therapy” and reintegrative therapy are entirely separate. Conversion therapy is a vague, broad term. There’s no ethics code or governing body. Unlicensed individuals practice it. In reintegrative therapy, the client is in the driver’s seat. The licensed therapist uses a specific combination of mainstream, evidence-based treatment approaches.

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Other clinics throughout the world use these same treatments. They treat trauma and sexual addictions. Not just gender or sexual-orientation issues. As those underlying dynamics resolve, the client’s sexuality often changes on its own. It is a byproduct of the resolution of the trauma. Clients often report lasting decreases in same-sex attractions. At the same time, they find increases in heterosexual ones.

How do you respond to the claim that reintegrative therapy is about blaming the family?

It’s important that clients have the freedom to tell their own story. That’s naming (not blaming) family dynamics that are present in the homes of so many of our clients. Many with same-sex attractions have spoken to our therapists describing remarkably similar experiences.

Perhaps it’s political correctness that pressures clients and therapists to be silent about the patterns they see. However, the evidence for a specific family pattern appears to be strong.

What people or groups are your primary opposition?

Earlier this week, a lawmaker stopped sponsoring a California bill that threatened clients’ rights to choose their own therapy goals. It would have banned therapy that had to do with the goal of leaving homosexuality or gender confusion.

The bill was AB-2943. I and others worked with the bill sponsor, California Assemblyman Evan Low, to try to find a resolution. After long talks with concerned clients who insisted they have the right to choose their own therapy goals, Low eventually dropped the bill. Politicians should not be in charge of this right.

The client should be in the driver’s seat of their own therapy.

Never before has the government banned adults’ therapy goals. The majority of the public knows the government has no business telling people their therapy goals are illegal. And they know the client should be in the driver’s seat of their own therapy. Not the politicians.

How do you respond to psychiatrist Jack Drescher, who says he’s talked to some of your dad’s patients and said the treatment did not lead to changes in their sexual orientation?

My father always agreed that some clients didn’t change. In fact, he readily admitted that about one-third of his clients did not see significant changes. However, they did almost always report success in achieving other, related goals. Notably, improving family and peer relationships.

Although there’s no “one size fits all” explanation for my clients’ unwanted desires and attractions, when it comes to Reintegrative Therapy™, my clients often describe specific traumas. They believe these life-changing events led to their unwanted same-sex attractions. When we use standard, evidence-based trauma methods to diminish the effects of those traumas, clients often describe changes in their sexuality as a byproduct.

Are Reintegrative Therapists located in every state?

The number of therapists trained in Reintegrative Therapy™ is growing. This year there are upcoming training events in California, Florida, Hungary and Spain.

 

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

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  • Patmos

    The percentage of LGBT people that have been abused is far to high to be ignored. It is a great tragedy that so many in the medical profession have merely allowed culture to influence their field. Then again, what can you really expect when people follow a coke head like Freud?

    • Jim

      I laugh when the uneducated, such as yourself, speak about the medical field. You have absolutely zero idea as to what you’re saying. That’s some pitiful trolling on your part.

    • Suaria

      There’s also many LGBT like myself who have never been sexually abused as a child. There’s also many straight people who were sexually abused as children, and they are still straight. Sexual abuse may be a correlation but it is not a causation of someone’s sexuality.

  • Trilemma

    About one third of the clients didn’t see significant changes. That’s evidence that those clients were truly homosexual and weren’t “recruited” but were, so to speak, born that way.

    • There is nothing natural about confusing a digestive tract for a sexual organ in the hopes of humiliating and doing violence on someone.

      What exactly makes these people sodomites if they are born sodomites? genetics? Them being “ghosts in machines” as you fantacize about?”

      • Trilemma

        Genetics. Gene expression. Hormone timing. Having trouble getting past the ick factor?

        • So you say people are genetically predisposed to confuse digestive organs for sexual organs to humiliate and dominate others out of hatred for childhood abuse and neglect? So what gene is this that is totally contrary to all Natural Law and only comes into effect after childhood trauma by another sodomite grooming them?

          I am rejecting your satanic gnosticism and pointing out the absurdity that people are mere “ghosts in machines” to excuse your rampant, subversive fixation of sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance.

          • Trilemma

            There is a genetic component to being homosexual. Being homosexual is not necessarily the result of childhood abuse. Being homosexual is not a sin.

          • What genetic component makes people confuse their digestive tract for a sexual organ? Especially just to take revenge on them being abused or neglected herby hey were young?

            sodomy is the second sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance. Again, gaslighting a Catholic on his own Faith is ridiculous.

            Also, “sexuality” does not exist. It was created by freud to claim Natural Law did not exist, that we were not made in the Image of God, and that perversion is just “self-expression.” While this fits with your gnostic delusion of “ghost in the machine,” it is nonsense.

          • Trilemma

            Nobody is confusing their digestive tract for a sexual organ. Homosexuality and sodomy are two different things. Freud did not create sexual attraction. Please provide the sources for all your ridiculous claims.

          • That is what sodomy entails. freud created the rhetorical device “sexuality” to do what you use it for: deny Natural Law and claim that perversion is “self-expression.”

      • Jim

        What’s not natural is priests wearing dresses and abusing children. You don’t seem to have your priorities right

        • So it is clear you are a sodomite and try to project your own evil in the attempt to absolve yourself.

          Priests wear the garb of a sacrificer.

          • Jim

            My wife will be fasciitis learn I’m gay. I’ll tell her when she gets back home. They wear dresses. Too funny!

          • your wife will be a horrifying skin disease?

            Priests wear cassocks and the garb of sacrificers during Mass.

          • Jim

            Dresses.

          • Ken Abbott

            Could be plantar fasciitis. That’s just a sore foot, not nearly as serious.

    • Bryan

      You could draw that inference but you can’t say that with any certainty. It’s simply that a new treatment plan did not work as expected for 1/3 of the clients. There isn’t an explanation given as to why and without the studies that support the plan, there isn’t a way to say why those clients didn’t see significant changes.

      • Trilemma

        I agree with you. That one third didn’t see changes doesn’t prove anything nor does it prove they can’t change. But I do think it’s evidence that is consistent with the findings of other conversion therapies that some can’t be changed.

        • And you say this is genetic. What gene?

          • Trilemma

            There is no single gene. Hundreds of genes and variations in development are involved in someone being naturally homosexual.

          • Again, which genes are they and why do they only activate to make people want diabolical revenge after childhood abuse?

          • Trilemma

            You need to make friends with someone who is homosexual. Maybe they could help you overcome your bizarre misconceptions about people who are homosexual.

          • As I said, subversive, “sexuality” does not exist and is a term created by freud to deny that we are Made in the Image of God. The idea being that they claim perversion is a mere matter of opinion, and the denial of Natural Law.

            I have no interest in dealing with sodomites, the only reason you do is so you can push them politically in the hope of overthrowing God’s order like your religion of marxism demands of you.

          • Trilemma

            You say sexuality doesn’t exist. I feel sorry for your spouse.

          • The nonsensical idea that Natural Law does not exist and that perversion is the singular form of “self-expression” is freud’s attempt to subvert God. How well did that work out for him?

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