Article Critique Sexual Minority Client


ArticleCritique: Sexual Minority Client


Thechapter “Counseling the Sexual Minority Client” by Mark A.Yarkhouse, Jill L.Kays, and Stanton L. Jones exemplifies issuesrelating to homosexuality and sexual identity. The authors delineatesame sex attraction as different from gay identity. They portray anarchetypal trajectory of the development of gay identity,unreservedly arguing that this course is not fixed. These authorschallenge the codes of the American Counseling Association (APA) fornot tolerating religious objections of counselors who may opt not tocounsel same-sex attracted clients.

Marketaltake issue with different cross sectional psychological studies thatinform on the codes of not providing a place for therapy for personswho feel distressed about their orientation and sex identity(Sanders,2013).They recommend that some empirical evidence indicates there isincreased psychological wellbeing for individuals who have gonethrough reparative therapy (Sanders,2013).

Theseauthors contend that professional who seek to provide therapy toindividual depicting same sex attraction should be guided bypertinent principles such as competence, integrity, and respect forclient autonomy and client wellbeing. The authors state that,Christians clinicians should thoroughly consider and employ pertinentethical principles, especially those that relate to patientwellbeing, competency and to critically assess their capability andcapacity to work effectively with sexual minorities who seek theirassistance for different reasons (Sanders,2013).

Competenceis highlighted as one of the most paramount principle that Christianclinicians should guarantee their client. Competence is described asan individual’s “suitability for a give profession based on theknowledge, skills and attitudes” (Sanders,2013).Competence can be achieved through experience, education andtraining. He authors state that Christian clinicians should not beheld at a lower standard than other psychologists and psychiatrists.

Theauthors also indicate that there is no conclusive evidence that showsthat homosexuality is caused by biological factors alone. Theycontend that that numerous factors come into play to contribute tohomosexuality. More specifically they cite the biological andenvironmental factors as being at the forefront in shapingindividuals orientation. The authors state that Christian knowledgeof the “mental health correlates” is another elements that addsup to competence in addressing the issues facing homosexuals andindividuals with same sex identity problem. Knowing that the sexualminority groups are at greater risk of substance use disorder, moodand anxiety disorder and poor self esteem will go a long way toinform the right approach to assist this group.

Racialminority who also fall into the category of sexual minorities havedouble minority status that predisposes them to psychologicaldisorders. Nonetheless, the author state that even the salientculture can also significantly affect the rates of distress and assuch Christian clinicians need to identify all the underlying factorsin the treatment process. In addition eventhough the authors cautionChristian clinicians handling sexual minorities about the variabilityamong the different sexual group, they are quick to indicate thatfurther research is need to provide a clear picture of the socialstress experienced by sexual minorities and it link to theirpsychological functioning.

Theauthors also provide a succinct analysis of the success rate oforientation change through professional and paraprofessional context. They indicate that the main approaches to sexual orientation are“behavioral intervention, aversion treatment psychoanalysis,reparative therapy and group therapies from a variety of theoreticalorientations” (Sanders,2013).

Itis clear that there is no standards parameters to measure positiveoutcome but from a range of outcomes such a marriage and decreasedsex fantasy, clinician have a sound past success rate that they canpeg their intervention. Although the methodology and sample designfor such studies have been questioned it is evident that they do not“disapprove of the success” rate achieved with therapeuticpractice (Sanders,2013).

Competenceaccording to Yarkhouse etal alsoencompasses knowledge on the cultural difference and how theypredisposed sexually minority groups to behave in particular ways.They indicate that professionals should continuously seek way throughwhich they can acquire knowledge and skills to work effectively withdiverse groups (Sanders,2013).Yarkhouse etalalso emphasizes on the principle of integrity and client wellbeing.They define integrity as being honest about the extent of ourcapability and knowledge about homosexuality. Integrity is thereforeclosely tied to client well being and competence because it informsclinical practice (Sanders,2013).Based on their article the only way professional can ensurecompetence, integrity and protect the sexual minority from harm inline with the precepts of their professional is to design a programthat is client centered and identity focused in its approach.


Thereare a number of fundamental issues relating to sexual minorities thatare raised by these authors in this chapter. The first thing thatemanates from this chapter is the definition of individual whoexhibit same sex attraction as sexual minority group. The authorsrefer to homosexuals as minority group to not only denote thenumerical state of those who experience same sex attraction but alsoto eliminate the identity label and self identifications. It alsoappears to be a term that would be acceptable within the Christiancommunity, and paraprofessional seeking to provide help to variousgroups categorized as the minority group.

Theauthors raise very poignant point when they indicate that Christianclinicians should adhere to ethical principles that relate to theprofession that they practice. It is important that they ensure theyare competent, display integrity and ensure that their actions do notcause harm to the segment of the population that seek theirassistance. In addition the authors indicate that the fact that theprofession that Christian therapists practice are informed byscientific principles that keeps on changing and improving, theyshould also remain vigilant and conscious of the scientificprinciples that guided and shape their practices so that they do notcause harm in the process of discharging their duties. The mostsurprising things is that the authors are loath to accept researchfinding by American Psychology Association that advice psychologistsnot to engage in practices that seek change reorientation of sexuallyminority group because there is no sound evidence to support such anendeavor. The author disagrees with APA task force report thatquestions the efficacy of change efforts. They only support researchfindings that tend to support their claim, for example, “thatChristians should be honest about efficacy of change methods”(Sanders,2013).What bother me most is the fact that the authors go on to givestatistics indicating that change efforts have yielded meaningfulresults in the past despite that fact that they acknowledge thereport by APA, that available data on “efficacy of change methodshow that majority of homosexuals do not find a cure in reorientationprogram” (Sanders,2013).

Evenso, it is of great importance that the authors acknowledge that to“assume overly optimistic projections of outcome of currenttreatment procedures is to engage in ethically questionable practice”(Sanders,2013).This not only supports they earlier presupposition that furtherlongitudinal research is necessary to inform practice but alsohighlights the caution that is required when using current reparativetechniques aimed at changing orientation of sexually minority groups.

Itis also importance and valuable that this chapter provides ways inwhich professional can ensure competence of their work and safeguardsexual minority clients from harm. This is crucial since it informsus that there are different ways apart from the gay affirmativetherapy as the only acceptable form of counseling with sexualminority. It is important that the authors inform us that APA hasbecome more accommodative of recent developments.

Theauthors also raise a very relevant point that it is difficult toaccess whether reparative practices meant to change orientation canharm to the client or not. This is due to the fact that clients donot report harm, the authors hang their hat on the affirmativeapproach but are quick to admonish professional that only amultiplicity approach can navigate through the conflicts on trainingprogram.


Sincethe homosexuality was removed from the category of mental disorder byAPA, the main focus has been on ways to support homosexuals by tryingto engage in the reorientation therapy. This chapter provides athough review of the reorientation therapy (concerns and criticism)and important aspects Christian counselors should be conversant withwhen handling sexual minorities. Through research we can conclusivelystate that a Christian counselor should address concerns such asanxiety and mood disorder, poor self esteem, substance use disorderand suicidality because these are the issues that despoil this group.

Ratherthan seeking to reorient sexual minorities, a feat that has beendescribed as futile endeavor, counselors should aim to solveincreased social and psychological distress ravaging this group. Inthis regards, stress models as advocated by the authors would come inhandy when trying to assist homosexuals. It is true that our culturehas witnessed a remarkable change that has resulted to theelimination of homosexuality from the category of mental disorders.In addition there is general wave of acceptance within the Christiancommunity about the causes of same sex attraction tendencies and assuch there is quite a positive outlook of same sex attraction as ahealthy expression of sexual identity.

Eventhough research has indicated that reorientation efforts haveachieved positive results, the report from APA profoundly adviceagainst pursuing goals aimed at reorientation. The evidence thatinform such a conclusion is that sexual minorities who have soughtfor help to change their orientation have continued to sufferhomosexual inclination even after therapy. Of utmost importance forprofessionals and paraprofessionals in religious setting is to employdifferent tools in addressing the chances of change, likelihood ofcausing harm and proof to support the claim that sexual minority canlive a normal life after therapy.

Itis evident that any approach that is likely to confer any meaningfulbenefit to the sexual minority ought to be client centered andfocused towards the sexual identity of the client. It is ofoverriding import to seek the consent of the client before proceedingwith therapy for the client in a conflict over sexual identity. Morespecifically, this consent should not be geared towards changingorientation but should be meant to address the sexual identityconundrum.


Sanders,R. K. (Ed.). (2013). Christian counseling ethics: A handbook forpsychologists, therapists and pastors (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL:IVP Academic.