The Hausvater Project

Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

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Indoctrinated against Human Nature: A Student Reveals the Homosexual Bias in Psychology Graduate Schools


Developing a Passion for Christian Counseling

I became interested in a career as a psychologist shortly after taking some of my general undergraduate courses in that field. Reading about theories of human development and learning how those theories can help us understand human behavior quickly became my favorite academic material. I was also privileged to read from Christian theorists within the field of psychology, and this helped me to appreciate how our Savior is the eternal Counselor. It was not long before I became interested in furthering my education in order to pursue a vocation as a Christian psychologist.

My graduate school training has been marked with relentless attacks on my Christian worldview. I hope to share my personal experience as it relates to the homosexual advocacy that pervades the field of psychology.

I knew that as a confessional Lutheran the field of psychology would not always be an inviting field for me, but I underestimated those fears. My graduate school training has been marked with relentless attacks on my Christian worldview. I hope to share my personal experience as it relates to the homosexual advocacy that pervades the field of psychology. Although this was not the only aspect of my Biblical foundation that professors and supervisors attempted to deconstruct, I will focus on the issue of homosexuality as it appears to be a glaring issue and I hope that my experience can benefit others who struggle with this issue.

 

The Interview Process

As I was completing my undergraduate degree I began the long and arduous task of applying to numerous graduate programs. I was excited to be invited for interviews at two schools. The first was a master’s program in Counseling Psychology at a private Christian graduate school that supported the premise of integrating faith with counseling theory. The second was a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at a public (secular) university. The interview at the Christian school was what I expected going into the process. I met with other prospective students and several faculty members, we discussed career goals, and I was interviewed for my knowledge of psychological theories.

The professor transformed the entire interview session into a venue to inquire about my view of how to counsel homosexual clients. It was clear that after reviewing my application material, which included training at a private Lutheran school, she deemed it necessary to determine if I would meet her own standards of appropriate practice with homosexual clients.

The interview at the secular school was my first taste of what I now recognize as inevitable. I met with one member of the faculty for a ninety-minute interview session in which neither counseling theories nor my knowledge of the field was ever discussed. The professor transformed the entire interview session into a venue to inquire about my view of how to counsel homosexual clients. It was clear that after reviewing my application material, which included training at a private Lutheran school, she deemed it necessary to determine if I would meet her own standards of appropriate practice with homosexual clients. The homosexual issue had become this professor’s litmus test for determining whether I would qualify for acceptance to this school. I walked away from that interview with a provisional acceptance, meaning I would be on probation for two years were I to choose to enroll there.

In many ways it was an easy decision. I rejected the provisional acceptance offer. I decided to enroll instead in the Christian Counseling Psychology program. However, the decision was not as easy as it seemed because in many ways the doctoral program offered many more career options to pursue licensure and advance as a professional. Nonetheless, I enrolled in the Master in Christian Counseling program with a primary goal of developing a clear understanding of how I could apply my Christian worldview within a field that appeared ready to reject my professional aspirations.

 

Attacks within a Christian Environment

I attended hoping to hear students and faculty reference Scripture to demonstrate a clear guideline prohibiting homosexuality and point the way toward forgiveness in Christ and new life in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the program chair of the counseling program, who also coincidentally was my instructor for a course in Biblical integration, misrepresented Scripture at this debate.

One might think that after enrolling in the Christian Counseling Program I would have a safe haven to cultivate my confessional Lutheran ethos and develop an understanding of how Biblical doctrines, such as Law and Gospel, apply to counseling situations. But by the second semester in this program endorsements of homosexuality again came to the forefront of my education. A homosexual advocacy group known as Soul Force brought a bus full of young activists to the campus where I was attending. In comparison to other Christian colleges that had arrested the demonstrators for trespassing, my university chose to engage the homosexual rights advocates in a debate. I attended hoping to hear students and faculty reference Scripture to demonstrate a clear guideline prohibiting homosexuality and point the way toward forgiveness in Christ and new life in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the program chair of the counseling program, who also coincidentally was my instructor for a course in Biblical integration, misrepresented Scripture at this debate. This professor attempted to use the compassion of Jesus as a way to manipulate and distort the truth about the scriptural commands regarding sexual relations. The loving empathy and compassion of our Savior is many times used as tool of rhetoric by homosexual rights advocates who do not want to see the truth behind their choices. It disappointed, but perhaps should not have surprised, me to see that the psychology program was at the forefront of a progressive agenda on campus.

This debate and many subsequent class discussions derailed my plans to further my own understanding about Christian integration. I even began to question whether this was in fact the profession that God had intended for me to pursue. However, my time in this master’s program also offered me an excellent opportunity to write a master’s thesis that developed my own counseling theory. This was an extremely difficult task, as I compiled and reviewed many different theories. I quoted Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, and the Bible throughout my thesis. It was extremely comforting when my thesis committee accepted my confessional Lutheran perspective. This experience reinforced my conviction that there is a place for me in the field of psychology.

 

Return to Secular University

Having graduated from the master’s program in counseling, I felt more prepared and confident in my own vision of how I could incorporate and defend my Christian worldview within the field of psychology. Although I could have attempted to find a job with the master’s degree that I had earned, it became clear that in order to achieve all of my career aspirations I would be best suited if I also completed a doctoral program that would allow me to become licensed as a clinical psychologist. After much discussion with my wife and other family members, I decided to re-apply to the doctoral program at the secular university that had approved my previous application on a provisional basis.

My three years of academic coursework on campus at this secular university were marked with persistent attacks against my views regarding homosexual relations. Of the approximately twenty-five faculty members that taught my coursework, about fifteen were openly homosexual.

My three years of academic coursework on campus at this secular university were marked with persistent attacks against my views regarding homosexual relations. Of the approximately twenty-five faculty members that taught my coursework, about fifteen were openly homosexual. One of the most significant moments during this time occurred when the American Psychological Association (APA) released a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Reparative Therapy, which may also be called Conversion Therapy, is an approach to counseling which attempts to help clients reduce or eliminate homosexual urges that they find undesirable. The APA’s review of the empirical literature concluded that “an enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation as a result of therapy is unlikely, and some participants were harmed by the interventions,” and “clients benefit from approaches that emphasize acceptance, support, and recognition of important values and concerns” (APA, 2009, p. 86). This Task Force article sparked numerous discussions throughout my courses. The faculty at this campus adamantly supported the idea that the only way to appropriately treat individuals with homosexual urges is to affirm and support these urges. According to the APA and my faculty, any views or interventions that did not affirm, support, and promote homosexual urges would increase depression or anxiety symptoms and potentially even lead to client suicide.

According to the APA and my faculty, any views or interventions that did not affirm, support, and promote homosexual urges would increase depression or anxiety symptoms and potentially even lead to client suicide.

Additionally, it is important to note that in reviewing the empirical literature the APA Task Force used the criteria for empirically supported treatments (EST) as determined by APA’s Division 12 (Chambless and Ollendick, 2001). However one does not need to look far to see a wide disagreement in the field of psychology about the effectiveness of the Division 12 EST standards. Indeed, there is significant support for other scientific methodologies such as case studies, client report, and qualitative studies to determine the effectiveness of treatment interventions (Norcross, Beutler, Levant, 2005). If a wider scope of scientific methodologies are included, then one can cite numerous studies that show evidence for the effectiveness of Reparative Therapy (e.g., Nicolosi, Byrd, & Potts, 2000; Byrd & Nicolosi, 2002; Spitzer, 2003).

The professor reported to his class that he was attempting to uncover and help release this client from his ‘intolerant Christian upbringing.’ If that was not upsetting enough, this professor even went on to say that the client whom he was counseling had been raised in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), and that this conservative religious training was the client’s primary hurdle to finding inner peace and emotional happiness.

In one of my final courses at this university, I sat in a class and listened to my professor cite a personal case study from his own therapy private practice. This occurred regularly during my graduate training, as most of the faculty members were also full- or part-time therapists. In this case the client had sought out this therapist because of his specialization with issues of sexual orientation; he was hoping to have assistance with eliminating some homosexual urges. The client was also experiencing depressive and anxious symptoms connected to the homosexual thoughts that he was having. The professor reported to his class that he was attempting to uncover and help release this client from his “intolerant Christian upbringing.” If that was not upsetting enough, this professor even went on to say that the client whom he was counseling had been raised in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), and that this conservative religious training was the client’s primary hurdle to finding inner peace and emotional happiness. The professor reported that his clinical intervention involved suggesting that the client attempt to re-evaluate what his life would look like if he could accept and freely act on his homosexual urges and begin to live his life as a homosexual man. The professor later admitted that he, too, was also raised in a WELS family, but that through his own academic training he was able to purge himself of these conservative beliefs. (He smugly described himself as a “Recovered Lutheran.”)

I could share many other examples of the narrow-minded analysis that dominates the field of psychology. My professor would never have been able to accept the idea that the client really did want to eliminate those homosexual urges, or that a person’s religious faith is not something that the therapist could eliminate through psychoanalysis. In this case, it appears that his past experiences with the tension between Lutheranism and the homosexual advocacy movement had left him with a vindictive spirit.

I refuted the group and the supervisor by attempting to explain that for this client it may not be possible to neatly separate issues of mental health and religious concerns. The student appreciated this explanation and she valued the insight that I could provide. It was exchanges like this that reminded me that there is a place for me in this field of psychology.

The final incident that I will share occurred during a practicum seminar during my third year. Practicum seminar is a weekly, one-hour consultation group led by a faculty member. The students in these practicum groups meet and discuss clinical cases from their practicum experiences. During one of the group sessions, a student, who was completing her practicum at a Lutheran College Counseling Department, discussed a case in which one of her clients requested information about the religious affiliation of the student therapist. The client refused to meet with her because she was unwilling to share anything about her belief system. I listened as the practicum group and the faculty supervisor went on to analyze and make the assumption that the student was probably having concerns related to his sexual orientation, an outlandish conclusion that the client did not suggest at all, and the group recommended that in those situations the therapist should continue to be elusive about inquiries about religious beliefs. They also suggested that as therapists we should tell the client that if they have concerns of a religious nature the therapist could make a referral to a clergyman, but that they should not talk about these issues in a therapy session. In this instance I was able to discuss the case with the student after the class. This student knew my background and she has consulted with me on religious issues as they came up during her training. I refuted the group and the supervisor by attempting to explain that for this client it may not be possible to neatly separate issues of mental health and religious concerns. The student appreciated this explanation and she valued the insight that I could provide. It was exchanges like this that reminded me that there is a place for me in this field of psychology.

 

Recommendations

I hope that reading about my experiences can help other students who may be pursuing a career in psychology or anyone else who has struggled against a narrow-minded agenda behind the otherwise respectable cloak of academia. Having gone through five years of graduate training, including three especially challenging years at a secular university, I would like to share a few recommendations.

First, supplement your learning and education with your own reading. Not only is it important to return to Scripture and be comforted by the Means of Grace, but also continue to read books by Christian authors that can provide you with solace during times of wearying attack. For example, I made it a priority to read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity on an annual basis.

As in the Biblical account of Elijah, you should be reminded that when you are with God you are never alone and He will provide you with Christian fellowship and inspiration to continue on in His work.

It is also important that you discuss these attacks with your social support system. Whether that means a spouse, pastor, family members, friends or other classmates, you will need those people in your life to discuss the frustrations that you will have to endure. There may be times when you feel like you are alone. As in the Biblical account of Elijah, you should be reminded that when you are with God you are never alone and He will provide you with Christian fellowship and inspiration to continue on in His work.

Finally, persevere through the attacks. Although I have yet to fully venture into this field, I am confident that more Christian counselors are needed in this field. There are many individuals, like the clients described earlier in this article, who will seek out help from mental health professionals, and they would receive the most benefit from a Christian counselor who is trained and prepared with the best therapeutic interventions as well as appropriate ways to apply Biblical truths.

 

References

  • APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. (2009). Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Byrd, A. D., & Nicolosi, J. (2002). A meta-analytic review of treatment of homosexuality. Psychological Reports, 90, 1139–1152.
  • Chambless, D. L., & Ollendick, T. H. (2001). Empirically supported psychological interventions: Controversies and evidence. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 685–715.
  • Nicolosi, J., Byrd, A. D., & Potts, R.W. (2000). Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: A consumer survey of conversion therapy clients. Psychological Reports, 86, 1071–1088.
  • Norcross, J., Beutler, L., & Levant, R. (Eds.) (2005). Evidence based practices in mental health: Debate and dialogue on the fundamental questions. Washington D.C.: APA.
  • Spitzer, R. L. (2003). Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 subjects reporting a change from homosexual to sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 403–417.

 

To preserve a career potential in the field of counseling psychology, the author of this article has asked to remain anonymous. Likewise, the author has removed any specific details that would reveal the identity of the schools or professors discussed above. Nevertheless, the story is real, and the research references listed above may assist readers who wish to understand the “psyche” of the psychological profession further.

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TAGS: Religious Liberty, Created Male and Female, Chastity

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