Wikipedia's article on homosexuality and Judaism talks about Jewish organizations which aim to help people change. The article mentions JONAH, an organization which works on "prevention, intervention, and healing of the underlying issues causing same-sex attractions". The article also mentions Atzat Nefesh.

There also exist secular organizations, and Christian organizations, with similar goals.

Are these organizations successful at helping their clients?

I define "successful helping" quite broadly. I define it to be the successful achievement of any of the following.

  • Reducing clients' same-sex attractions.
  • Curing clients' same-sex attractions.
  • Helping bisexual clients with dating-related issues as they work towards marriage. (For example, the issue of when to tell one's date about one's sexual orientation.)
  • Or helping with other problems that clients may have. For example:

    • dysfunctional family relationships;
    • trust issues;
    • reclusiveness;
    • problems dealing with emotions such as sadness.

Please don't answer unless you cite sources.

  • 7
    Do you mean 'useful' in that they are trying to accomplish something good, or that they are successful at what they do?
    – Double AA
    May 11 '12 at 21:38
  • 2
    Hakirah has been having a series of articles on SSA (same-sex attraction) in the Jewish community featuring discussion with R' S. Kaminetzky, the primary rabbinic endorser of JONAH (I think). The articles are all available online. (Only the first two pages of the most recent article are available as of now.)
    – jake
    May 11 '12 at 22:06
  • 1
    @tealhill Hello tealhill, welcome to Mi.Yodeya and thank you for this question! I'm glad to see you've registered your account, I hope you stick around and enjoy it! May 11 '12 at 22:17
  • 1
    Incidentally, people who downvote and don't leave comments are going to be very unlikely to email you. FWIW, I upvoted. May 11 '12 at 22:27
  • 5
    I'm sorry to be naggy, but you didn't pick one of my two suggestions. As it stands, I'm still not sure what you are asking: are you looking to evaluate if JONAH successfully can 'cure' gay individuals, or do you want to know if their aims are worthwhile? Is this question empirical or axiological?
    – Double AA
    May 11 '12 at 23:16

For starters, JONAH has been the subject of allegations of malpractice & sexual abuse. Before that even gets into the picture, however, the entire idea that homosexuality is a curable ailment is highly suspect. From Psychology Today:

"Most professional psychologists view reparative therapy skeptically, to say the least. In 2007 the American Psychological Association assembled a task force to study the effectiveness of this approach. After spending two years sifting through the available research—it evaluated eighty-three studies dating back to 1960—the group concluded that there was scant evidence that sexual orientation could be changed. What's more, it found that attempting to do so could cause depression and suicidal tendencies among patients. Based on these findings, in 2009 the APA voted to repudiate reparative therapy by a margin of 125 to 4."

At best, they are giving false hope to people who really need help accepting their sexuality. At worst they are actively exploiting and abusing those people. Highly suspect.

  • Is this an answer to the empirical read of the question? If it is, I find it odd that you would answer an empirical question with allegations and indecisiveness.
    – Double AA
    May 13 '12 at 19:02
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    1) Anyone who thinks it is impossible to change someone's sexual preferences is being as silly as anyone who thinks it must be possible. We're looking for data about JONAH's progress, not speculation. 2) Don't you see the assumptions you have latent in that sentence?? If you think what they need is help accepting their sexuality, then of course this system is pointless! You should answer by explaining why that is what they need! That will contribute to the axiological discussion; this is just your declarations. -1 until you edit.
    – Double AA
    May 13 '12 at 19:14
  • 1
    @Shemmy let us continue this discussion in chat
    – Double AA
    May 13 '12 at 19:31
  • 1
    FYI It seems the question has been updated.
    – Double AA
    May 14 '12 at 3:00
  • 1
    To be clear, "Reparative Therapy" is not a catch-all term for everything that the pseudoscientific frauds at NARTH, JONAH, Exodus and the like do. "Reparative Therapy" is one particular therapeutic model, which is highly flawed. It's heavily promoted by NARTH, and has been dropped by Exodus. I don't know to what extent JONAH uses it. Either way, to say that reparative therapy is worthless is not in itself to say that everything these organisations do is worthless.
    – TRiG
    Jun 13 '12 at 17:15

I think it's important to shed light on the important issue of whether homosexuals can "change" to become the heterosexuals that Hashem intended them to be. As Co-Director of JONAH, I chose to submit the paragraphs shown below which were written by a therapist who is not associated with JONAH, but who has counseled men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) for decades. There is not a shred of evidence that anyone is born gay and those who are unhappy being gay or lesbian have been walking away from homosexuality throughout history. Gay activists, who started out to help those with SSA, have become as irrational and damaging as those who previously discriminated against homosexuals in the past. Although feeling SSA is not a choice, a person has the right to choose whether to attempt to deal with these feelings or not, and those who attempt to ban all counseling for unwanted SSA have become malicious agitators against free choice.


Shedding Light on the Gay Issue

Many people find it difficult to believe that there is not a shred of credible scientific evidence for the existence of the "gay gene," since it flies in the face of what is presented as fact in our culture. There have been a few attempts by self identified gay scientists to present evidence of genetic contributions to homosexuality, but these endeavors have never withstood scientific scrutiny, a point that gay activist researchers now concede.1 Most people are unaware of the fact that gay rights advocates have often written in their internal documents that it advances their agenda to popularize the concept of a "gay gene" (regardless of the lack of scientific evidence).2

The fact that overcoming SSA is indeed difficult and is often only achieved imperfectly is also cited as evidence of the unchangeable nature of sexual orientation thus making the apparent change not authentic. This claim is absurd! All psychological problems are difficult to change. Is it easy to help someone improve his self-esteem? Or to develop confidence? Or to overcome years of abuse? When the person makes progress, do we belittle his progress because he is still struggling? And if he improves with his issue 90%, do we not see this as a tremendous success even though vestiges of his problem remain? Why is the treatment of SSA held to such ridiculous and illogical and dramatically different standards than other areas of psychotherapy? Only because of a political agenda, it seems.

  • 1
    Elaine Silodor Berk, welcome to the site, and thanks for your perspective. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. This answer is valuable only to the extent it cites that essay, so editing in information on its author's credentials would be valuable. Please also consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – msh210
    May 24 '12 at 21:30
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    Not even one shred of evidence? Science has discovered more things since 2005 foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316316,00.html
    – zaq
    May 24 '12 at 21:36
  • 2
    @zaq The article you cite finishes by saying that they have no idea if the same thing applies to humans. May 29 '12 at 12:40
  • 2
    That's the case with any animal-study, human trials are always necessary to generalize the findings. However, to say there's "not a shred of evidence" that homosexuality is genetic sounds very biased when there are studies that show some evidence. Currently the jury is out on whether it's genetic, biological or environmental. One could just as accurately say there is not one shred of evidence that it's a choice. The fact is, we don't know yet.
    – zaq
    May 29 '12 at 13:16
  • There are certain scientific studies which cast doubt on the idea that change is possible. I've never actually read any of those studies. But simply hearing about them has put doubts in my mind. The last paragraph of your quote has helped calm my doubts. Thank you very much. Upvoted and accepted. Jun 17 '12 at 20:58

NARTH published in "The Journal of Human Sexuality" a landscape review of over 600 peer reviewed studies that supports the science that people can and do change sexual orientation. As one of the major organizations involved in this work, JONAH has a proven track record of success in helping men and women overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. Innumerable individuals who have utilized the resources of JONAH have achieved their goals.

  • 1
    A link would be most useful.
    – Double AA
    May 25 '12 at 0:44
  • 2
    This sounds like an excerpt from a press release.
    – TRiG
    Jun 13 '12 at 17:16
  • -1, please provide at least one actual source. You link to a the journal's site, but not to an article. Jun 13 '12 at 17:17
  • Rav Aron Feldman cites this journal in 'eye of the storm', I have received a copy of the source and read it my self. It shares statistics that suggest that homosexual relationships are less about a bond between people and more about the sexual act. This data was taken a while back, so one could argue that the sample size was too small. Rav Feldman also cites an instance of a man who had this issue and who is now married to a woman who helped him through it with children. He concedes that some people who seek help may not find it and provides advice, including a personal letter to gay Jews.
    – user3114
    Aug 28 '13 at 21:20
  • Here: unav.es/icf/main/top/diciembre09/…
    – user3114
    Sep 13 '13 at 12:03

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