About Change

Is Change Really Possible?

Absolutely! We testify from our own personal experience that we have experienced profound change in our sexual identity, behavior, interests and desires -- change that has brought us great peace and satisfaction. (See: Our Stories)

Evidence of Change

Anecdotal evidence that change is possible is abundant. First-person testimonials abound on the Internet, at recovery conferences and in reparative literature. Click here for testimonies on other websites.

But the evidence is much more than anecdotal. In more than 50 years of research, including 48 studies we will reference here, there are data and published accounts documenting easily more than 3,000 cases of change from homosexual to heterosexual attraction, identity and functioning.

"Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change" Project

New Direction Ministries in Toronto, Canada, has collected and critiqued 31 clinical research studies, individual case studies and surveys on homosexuality and the possibility of change published in books or academic journals between 1952 and 2003. The reviewers looked for reported changes, and supporting evidence for changes, in behavior, attractions, fantasy and self-identification by the subjects of the various studies and surveys. On their Web page, they summarize the collective results of 28 of the studies, and discuss the other three separately.

Collectively, the 28 studies present information on 2,252 subjects. The reviewers with the "Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change" project selected for analysis only those subjects for whom enough data was available in the published reports to assign the subjects approximate before-and-after Kinsey sexual orientation scores of from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual). They eliminated from consideration those subjects whose "before" scores were lower than 5 (where 5 is "predominantly homosexual") or for whom insufficient information was available to assign any scores at all.

The reviewers found that using even this conservative before-and-after analysis, the published research clearly supports at least:

  1. 45 cases of people who were exclusively or predominantly homosexual (a 6 or 5 on the Kinsey scale) making a full shift in sexual orientation (to a 0 on the Kinsey scale).
  2. 287 cases of people who were exclusively or predominantly homosexual (a 6 or 5 on the Kinsey scale) making a partial shift in sexual orientation (to a 1 or 2 on the Kinsey scale).
  3. 86 cases of people who were exclusively or predominantly homosexual who transitioned to satisfying heterosexual relationships. (This third group of studies measured change by external behavior and reports of satisfaction, rather than reports of levels of attraction.)

Thus you have at least 418 cases in the published psychological literature of heterosexual orientation shift, according to the criteria used by the "Possibility of Change" project. However, the studies themselves actually report at least 563 subjects who experienced varying degrees of change toward increased heterosexuality. (The lower number is due to the project reviewers applying uniform criteria, years after the fact, to summarize more than 50 years of published studies, and thus excluding reports that didn't fit their criteria for analysis.)

Some may argue that many of these studies are old, and thus outdated. But old and outdated are not synonymous. Research doesn't "go bad" with time alone, like old bread. Older research can be confirmed, expanded, reinterpreted or contradicted by new, better designed or more thorough research. But age alone never invalidates a research study. And it is striking that these 31 studies, conducted over 50-some years, consistently show at least some evidence for sexual orientation shift, every time.

Source: New Direction Ministries, "Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change" project, Toronto, Canada.

Year Name Published No. of subjects No. experiencing at least some heterosexual shift # counted by H&PC Project as K6/5 to K0/1 shift
1952 Poe, John S. Psychoanalytic Review
1
1
1
1958 Hadfield, J.A. British Medical Journal
9
6
6
1959 Ellis, Albert Journal of Clinical Psychology
1
1
1
1962 Bieber, et al Book: "Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study"
106
29-43
14
1965 Mayerson & Lief Book: "Sexual Inversion: The Multiple Roots of Homosexuality"
19
9
6
1966 Mintz Journal of Consulting Psychology
10
3
3
1966 Hadden International Journal of Group Psychology
32
12
12
1967 Kaye Archives of General Psychiatry
?
?
--
1969 Wolpe Book: The Practice of Behavior Therapy
1
1
1
1969 Wallace Psychoanalytic Review
1
1
1
1970 Hatterer Book: Changing Homosexuality in the Male
143
49-67
12
1973 Liss & Weiner American Journal of Psychotherapy
1
1
1
1973 McCrady Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
1
?
--
1973 Barlow and Agras Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
2
2
1
1974 Canton-Dutari Archives of Sexual Behavior
54
44-49
15
1975 Freeman and Meyer Behavior Therapy
11
9
4
1976 Callahan Book: Counseling Methods
1
1
1
1978 Socarides Book: Homosexuality
45
20
20
1979 Masters & Johnson Book: Homosexuality in Perspective
67
29
12
1980 Pattison & Pattison American Journal of Psychiatry
11
11
5
1980 Birk Book: Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal
29
18
18
1986 Van den Aardweg Book: On the Origins and Treatment of Homosexuality
101
37
5
1992 Shechter International Forum of Psychoanalysis
1
1
1
1993 Golwyn & Sevlie Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
1
1
1
1994 Berger American Journal of Psychotherapy
1
1
1
1994 MacIntosh Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association
1215
276
276
1999 Schaeffer Journal of Psychology and Theology
140
?
--
2000 Schaeffer Journal of Psychology and Christianity
248
?
--
Total    
2252
563 (25%)
418 (19%)

NARTH Survey of Reparative Therapy Clients

In addition to the 28 studies summarized above, the "Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change" project reports on three others. The first, conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in 1997, is a survey of 882 individuals who had been in reparative therapy or other intervention programs in an effort to effect a sexual-orientation change.

The anonymous survey found that, before counseling or therapy, 581 men and women out of the 882, or 66%, considered themselves exclusively or almost entirely homosexual (Kinsey 6 or 5). Another 188 (21%) considered themselves more homosexual than heterosexual (Kinsey 4) before treatment.

After treatment, only 111 (13%) considered themselves exclusively or almost entirely homosexual (Kinsey 6 or 5). That's 470 fewer individuals who placed themselves in this category, post-treatment. And in fact, 282 individuals (32%) described themselves as either exclusively or almost entirely heterosexual after treatment (Kinsey 0 or 1).

Those surveyed also reported significant decreases in the frequency and intensity of their homosexual thoughts -- from 63% indicating "very often" before treatment to 3% after treatment. The same was true of sexual behaviors with a partner: 30% had homosexual sex "very often" before treatment, while only 1% did so afterward.

NARTH Survey of Therapists

The second survey was also conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in 1997, but this one surveyed 206 therapists and counselors who have counseled individuals who sought to change from a homosexual orientation. Collectively, these 206 professionals had worked with a total of at least 9,702 homosexual clients seeking sexual reorientation.

More than 40% of therapists said that the majority (61% or more) of their clients had either "adopted a primarily heterosexual orientation (not just behavior)" or "experienced a significant decrease in unwanted homosexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors" or both. At an average of 47 clients per therapist, that would represent more than 2,350 clients who experienced a significant homosexual-to-heterosexual shift, according to the therapists who counseled them.

Other Studies

In their book, "Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral Debate," psychologists Dr. Stanton L. Jones and Dr. Mark A. Yarhouse present summary data on 30 research studies conducted between 1954 and 1994. Of these, 13 are also included in New Direction's "Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change" summary, but 17 are not. These 17 additional studies, conducted mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, present data on 327 subjects. Of these, 108 men and women made a successful shift from primarily homosexual to primarily heterosexual attractions and/or behaviors.

Source: Jones, Stanton L., and Yarhouse, Mark A., Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral Debate, InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 123, 131

Year Name, Where Published> No. of subjects No. experiencing at least some heterosexual shift
1954 Eliasberg, Group Psychotherapy
6
3
1958 Hadden, American Journal of Psychiatry
3
1
1960 Beukenkamp, Archives of General Psychiatry
1
1
1960 Finney, Journal of the Society of Therapists
3
2
1961 Litman, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy
1
In process
1965 Munzer, Topical Problems of Psychotherapy
18
5
1966 Stone, Schengber & Seifried, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy
1
In process
1967 MacCulloch & Feldman, British Medical Journal
35
10
1967 Singer & Fischer, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy
8
4
1970 Johnsgard & Schumacher, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
5
0
1970 McConaghy, British Journal of Psychiatry
40
10
1970 Truax, Moeller and Tourney, Journal of the Iowa Medical Society
20
In process
1971 Pittman & DeYoung, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy
6
3
1971 Truax & Tourney, Diseases of the Nervous System
30
20
1972 Covi, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
30
In process
1974 Birk, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy
66
14
1984 Schwartz & Masters, American Journal of Psychiatry
54
35
  Total
327
108 (33%)

One of the more recent publications on the topic is in the American Psychological Association's June 2002 issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. An article by Dr. Warren Throckmorton, "Initial Empirical and Clinical Findings Concerning the Change Process for Ex-Gays," summarizes 11 studies and concludes: "My literature review contradicts the policies of major mental health organizations because it suggests that sexual orientation, once thought to be an unchanging sexual trait, is actually quite flexible for many people, changing as a result of therapy for some, ministry for others and spontaneously for still others."

Clearly, to claim that there is "no evidence of successful sexual orientation change" is to be either grossly uninformed or in a state of denial. Reparative therapy has not been discredited. It has simply fallen out of favor since the 1973 vote by the board of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its official encyclopedia of mental disorders. The research hasn't been disproved; it has simply been disenfranchised by the political correctness of the times.

The Benefits of Pursuing Change

Critics like to claim that attempting to change one's sexual orientation puts one at risk for depression and even suicide. There no doubt have been those who have pursued change for the wrong reasons, or in the wrong ways, and thereby have inadvertently increased the internal conflict and struggle rather than decreasing it. These are unfortunate cases, but what do they prove? Only that that particular therapy or ministry was not helpful or appropriate for those particular individuals at the time. It doesn't prove that they are not helpful to or appropriate for anyone ever -- any more than the grumblings of a few lapsed Catholics would "prove" that Catholicism is harmful to all. Especially when there is significant evidence of others who benefit.

  • Dr. Robert Spitzer found no evidence of harm among the 200 individuals he surveyed on their experience in reparative therapy and ex-gay ministries. He has stated, "To the contrary, they reported that it was helpful in a variety of ways beyond changing sexual orientation itself."

  • The NARTH survey of 882 men and women who had pursued change said the therapy was beneficial to their mental health and helped them cope with and reduce their homosexual attractions. They also overwhelmingly rated their experience as positive on a range of variables, including self-acceptance, trust of the opposite sex, self-esteem, emotional stability, relationship with God, and depression. Only 7% of survey respondents said they were doing worse than before the therapy on three or more of 17 measures of psychological well-being.

Our own experience more than bares out those findings.

Jason writes: "The journey has been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it was worth it. Today, I am a different man - stronger, healthier, happier, more loving, more confident, more mature. I am a better father, a better husband, a better friend, and a more devoted son of God. I would never trade the peace, growth and healing I have experienced for anything in the world."

Jerry writes: "I am at the point in my life now where homosexuality is no longer a struggle. I'd have to go through a lot of barricades -- psychologically, spiritually and emotionally - to get to the point of acting on any temptation. I am very fulfilled in my life. I no longer want homosexuality in my life. I no longer need it. Today, I identify with other heterosexual men as my peers, my brothers and my equals. I am in love with my wife. I love being a husband and a daddy."

Tom writes: "I now feel I have successfully transitioned from gay and bisexual to straight. The change is immensely satisfying and rewarding. I started dating women again because I wanted a healthy relationship that would last. I will settle down with one, eventually. I am a stronger man now, better prepared to be in a close relationship, with more to give as a whole man."

Those who want to believe, whose hearts are open to the whisperings of truth, will know that the experiences we share are true and were right for us.