The Truth about Gay Conversion Therapy

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

The Truth about Gay Conversion TherapyTherapists are Trained, Governors are Not

A few weeks ago Texas Governor Rick Perry, speaking in San Francisco, defended his state’s Republican Party Platform endorsing gay conversion therapy (also called reparative therapy), essentially stating that homosexuality is a choice. So once again this topic is in the news and in need of intelligent discussion. Somewhat amazingly, the basic questions being asked about homosexuality and conversion therapy haven’t changed much in the last 50-plus years, despite the almost incalculable progress we’ve made in our scientific understanding of human sexuality and romantic attraction. The two primary questions seem to be:

  1. Is homosexuality a psychological disorder (or the result of a psychological disorder)?
  2. Can homosexuals be repaired (i.e., converted into heterosexuals) via psychoanalytic treatment or any other methodology?

The answer to both of these questions is a resounding NO. Yet here we are again, fighting off painfully misguided, highly moralistic efforts to judge healthy forms of sexuality.

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Wake Up California Therapists! Protecting Client Confidentiality per Proposed California Law AB 1775

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

therapy-sessionThe Current Situation vs. AB 1775

For a very long time, California psychotherapists have been required to break client confidentiality only when we believe a minor or dependent adult is in imminent danger of serious abuse or neglect or a life is imminently at risk (homicide and/or suicide with a clear plan). Over the years this has enabled us to privately counsel countless men and women seeking help with discontinuing illegal or potentially harmful behaviors, or with diminishing shame and self-hatred over past misconduct. Many of us have helped these individuals develop and maintain healthier, happier, and safer lives – without needing to break our vow of confidentiality.

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Discussing Casual Sex: An Interview with Dr. Zhana Vrangalova

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Discussing Casual Sex: An Interview with Dr. Zhana VrangalovaZhana Vrangalova is a human sexuality researcher with a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. Currently she teaches in the Psychology Department at NYU. Her research focuses on sexual orientation, consensual non-monogamy, and the effects of casual sex on emotional wellbeing. She is the originator of The Casual Sex Project, a forum for real stories from real people detailing their experiences with hookups, one-night stands, friends with benefits, and the like. Her recently published study, Who Benefits from Casual Sex: The Moderating Role of Sociosexuality, is generating a great deal of discussion among not just sexologists, but the general public, primarily because the research finds that casual sex, for people who are emotionally and socially “into it,” may actually benefit emotional and psychological wellbeing. (Previous studies looking into the effects of casual sex on wellbeing have been largely inconclusive.) I recently had the opportunity to speak with Zhana about her groundbreaking work, and I wanted to share the transcript of our conversation here.

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Childhood Covert Incest and Adult Life

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Childhood Covert Incest and Adult LifeDashiell, a 29-year-old CPA, first came to see me after his self-described “healthy sexual appetite” went from fun to over-the-edge to addiction. In our initial assessment, Dash told me his sexual behavior had spiraled out of control, resulting in a string of reprimands at work (for downloading porn on company owned equipment) and eventually the loss of his job. Dash was also using “adult friend finder” apps, primarily Ashley Madison and Tinder, to seek out casual sexual encounters and prostitutes. Unsurprisingly, he was in deep denial about his sexual problems – justifying, minimizing, blaming, and deflecting like a seasoned addict. Nevertheless, his treatment motivation was high, even though he was hoping to not give up the escapist and highly compulsive sexual intensity that ruled his life.

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Esteemed Study Identifies Sexual Addiction as Identifiable and Diagnosable

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Esteemed Study Identifies Sexual Addiction as Identifiable and Diagnosable All Highly Pleasurable Substances and Behaviors Have Addiction Potential

Led by Dr. Valerie Voon, a group of researchers at the University of Cambridge (UK) recently published a detailed fMRI study showing that the brain activity in sex addicts, when they are shown pornography, mirrors the brain activity in drug addicts when they are exposed to drug-related imagery. This study strongly suggests that sexual addiction not only exists, but in fact manifests in profoundly similar ways to other more readily accepted forms of addiction like alcoholism, drug addiction, and Internet addiction.

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Narcissism, Porn Use, and Addiction

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Narcissism, Porn Use, and AddictionProof that Porn Users are Narcissistic

Any clinician who treats sex and porn addicts on a regular basis can tell you that our clients, both male and female, tend to be highly narcissistic – a quality that often makes for a tempestuous therapist-client relationship. Simply put, evidence from the field strongly suggests that sex and porn addicts are nearly always self-centered and self-absorbed, often to an extreme degree, not only sexually but elsewhere in their lives. Of course, it’s nice to have scientific research that backs up what we typically see in our practices, and a recent study, Narcissism & Internet Pornography Use, accepted for publication in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, does exactly that.

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GLBT Addiction and Recovery: An Interview with Jeff Zacharias

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

GLBT Addiction and Recovery: An Interview with Jeff ZachariasBecause I sometimes find that the issues therapists deal with differ by region, I like to chat with men and women at the forefront of our profession in various areas of the country. Among these clinical leaders is Jeff Zacharias, Owner, President, and Clinical Director of New Hope Recovery Center in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. New Hope primarily serves Chicago’s LGBT community. Jeff also has a private practice in Lincoln Square. He specializes in the treatment of all forms of addiction, with a focus on sex and love addiction.

Recently I spoke with Jeff about the issues he commonly sees in the Chicago area, and how he and his colleagues approach treatment to those particular challenges.

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Intervention: Getting Addicts into Treatment

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Intervention: Getting Addicts into TreatmentThe Client

Margaret, a 29-year-old married mother of two preschool aged children, starts in therapy at the insistence of her husband, Jason, who wants her to stop drinking and popping pills. In the first session, she tells you there is nothing wrong with her behaviors, and it’s her husband who’s off-base. “He expects me to be this perfect little 1950s housewife. He doesn’t understand that women like that just don’t exist. I’m only coming to therapy to get him off my back.” And quietly, just before the session ends, she says, “You can refill my valium prescription, right?”

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Therapists and Clients: Common Problems and How to Avoid Them

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Therapists and Clients: Common Problems and How to Avoid ThemTherapists Are Not Perfect

As therapists, each of us would like to do exactly the right thing in each and every session. However, given the stressful nature of our work, the lengthy and sometimes sporadic hours, the occasional inability to feel secure in our continued income, and even our own not-yet-totally-resolved issues, we sometimes fall a bit short of this lofty goal. Simply put, despite our good training, supervision, and continuing education, we occasionally make errors. A few of the more common therapeutic missteps are discussed below, along with suggestions on how to avoid them. That said, professional organizations have guidelines that are (and always should be) a therapist’s first line of defense in this regard. Plus, without doubt I’ve missed a few things. If so, please add your thoughts on those issues in the comments section. That way, anything I’ve overlooked will still be discussed.

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Can Protective Software Help Addicts Maintain Sobriety?

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Can Protective Software Help Addicts Maintain Sobriety?Battling Tech with Tech

It’s no secret that access to 24/7 digital technology can facilitate addiction. The Internet and related technologies have greatly increased the average person’s ability to affordably and anonymously access an almost endless array of addictive substances (illicit drugs, prescription medications, and the like) and activities (spending, gambling, video gaming, pornography, non-intimate sexual encounters, and the like). The simple truth is that if you know where to look, you can find anything you want online. As a result, over the last two decades, as digital technology has proliferated, the number of people walking into therapists’ offices with addiction-related issues (especially behavioral addictions) has steadily and significantly increased.

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Recent Comments
  • 80+1: just found this site and wanted to add another dimension to your research/study. i have been w/ my...
  • William Fisher: Thank you. An excellent summary of the reasons why “conversion therapy” is, at best, a...
  • Buster Ross: Thank you for writing this, it’s so alarming, and I’m so grateful for you making this...
  • TPG: What a dumb law. Every teen who has ever sent a self of themselves nude (child porn) to another teen (recipient...
  • flamestar: You act like the only kind of masturbation is compulsive over masturbation. It is true that pornography...
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