First, people will have to want our help. Obviously, not all homosexuals want to change. Some view their condition as unchangeable and seek to make it a positive part of their lives. However, those contacting us have pretty much made up their minds: They want to change and they want help. Previously, most of our clients have attempted to live the “gay life” — sometimes, doing so for several years. Ultimately, they were not satisfied and also admitted to a deep moral conflict within that would not go away no matter how much they tried to embrace a liberal, pro-homosexual viewpoint. In today’s more permissive societies, people generally have the freedom to pursue their homosexuality if so desired. Yet those seeking to overcome a homosexual condition deserve our support in pursuing this option. To sum it up, recovery from homosexuality is about “growth”. Quite literally those in recovery “grow beyond” their same sex fixation and “grow out of” their homosexuality. This growth, however, is a lengthy process — lengthier for some than others. And for many, “recovery” will mean a lifetime commitment. Recovery programs like ours don’t solve every problem. We don’t claim to. Clients who participate in our program won’t suddenly be transformed into lusting heterosexual stallions as if they had never been homosexual. Long after leaving our program they will still have to be responsible to effectively manage their lives and residual weaknesses. So what does our program offer? Simply put, we are only one ingredient in the recovery journey — that’s true for any recovery program. However, we do serve as a ‘stepping stone” that can prove to be pivotal in a person establishing a different life forthemselves. We view the recovery process as a gradual progression to and through important goals. Some of these goals include:
Unmasking the underlying beliefs and defense mechanisms that block growth and fuel impulses.
Learning to recognize, and satisfy needs for intimacy and security in healthy, non-sexual ways.
Resolving conflicts stemming from childhood trauma and rejection.
Developing beneficial self management skills.
Growing in relationship with God and others.
Volumes of books have been written detailing “how” all this is accomplished, from both clinical and theological perspectives. Though we can’t explain it all in this article, please refer to the books listed at the end.
While part of our program consists of insight-oriented teaching toward the goal of understanding and self management, it is through our weekly support group meetings that our clients find the encouragement needed to perservere and progress. Support groups have a proven track record as a temporary, helpful tool in assisting those overcoming many types of life-controlling problems — including homosexuality. In fact 90% of agencies like ours employ such groups, in addition to consultation, counseling and referral services.
In a group setting, the client is both “accepted as is”, and held “accountable” for behavior and growth. The recovery effort is a burden shared in a safe place among others who understand and are supportive of the client’s values and goals regarding recovery.
While support groups can’t “do it all”, they can prove to be a wonderful oasis in the journey!
As the same-sex fixation is dealt with, as traumas are healed and needs are met, growth cannot help but occur. And with this growth, potential heterosexual development becomes a possibility. Eventually, our clients “outgrow” their season of depending on our program, and they more comfortably and honestly integrate into other general social support systems such as a church fellowship group. And their growth away from homosexuality continues!
Some ask if our group meetings provide a ‘cruising’ ground or temptation problem for our clients. Even though it seems risky to put people with a same-sex fixation into a same-sex recovery group, there really isn’t the problem one might suspect. Why? First, we do screen those desiring to join our program. We spell out very clearly our group guidelines, which include our expectations of and instructions for clients should they find themselves `attracted to’ or ‘pursued by’ a group member. Such attractions within the group will happen. They are proven to be temporary and need not result in a moral failure. (Actually, attractions within the group require our clients to come to terms with, interpret and then manage their same sex attractions.) Prior to group participation, our clients sign an agreement whereby they know that to have a sexual encounter with another group member will result in dismissal from our group program. In addition to this — and perhaps most importantly of all, those in our support group are usually highly committed to recovery. They embrace moral values that are, for them, very motivating, or they wouldn’t bother being involved in our program. Frankly, if someone wants to “go shopping” for a sexual partner, our group provides the least convenient opportunity to do so. While some clients do relapse in their recovery effort before they get their act together, moral failures within the group setting are extremely rare in my experience. In fact, the risk decreases as friendship bonds are established in the group.
Relearning ways of living, coping and relating are not easy. Understandably, overcoming homosexuality is a challenge many prefer not to face. Clinical studies conclude that those who do overcome the control of homosexuality need two ingredients for success: a tenacious and persevering motivation, and support of others who believe in their effort. We, at CHOICES offer part of the supportive network needed. We provide consultations, weekly support group meetings, and referrals to collaborating community professionals. We also conduct seminars and provide information and resources for those interested in knowing more about the recovery option.