CommunityPam's House Blend

Questions mount about Marcus Bachmann's 'ex-gay' practice

Michele Bachmann is actually climbing in the polls (god knows why). Zogby:

Michele Bachmann has extended her lead over the announced Republican candidates, but she trails both Rick Perry and Chris Christie when both governors and Sarah Palin are included in a hypothetical preference poll of Republican primary voters.

Four Republicans (Christie, Mitt Romney, Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty) are each in a statistical tie with President Barack Obama when they are matched up against him. All other GOP contenders trail Obama.

Bachmann also led among announced candidates in a June 21 IBOPE Zogby interactive poll, and has now added 10 percentage points to her total of 34%, giving her a 19-point lead over second place Herman Cain.

And along with the Congresswoman, her husband and “therapist” Dr. Marcus Bachmann is getting a lot of press, and she readily boasts that together they work together as a political team. (WaPo):

Dr. Bachmann’s strong anti-gay views would hardly be noteworthy outside of the suburban towns marked with water towers in the St. Croix Valley, except that his wife, Rep. Michele Bachmann, is suddenly the hottest commodity in the Republican presidential field. She has staffed up with professional consultants, but her husband of 32 years plays a central role. Dr. Bachmann, who recently called himself his wife’s “strategist,” has acted as her media planner, traveling assistant and even personal shopper. They share a bond born of a mutual religious awakening in high school and college, a deep faith in an especially conservative form of Lutheranism, and a common abhorrence of homosexuality.

“My husband and I,” Bachmann told The Washington Post in March, “are a really good team.”

He is a major focal point of the Dump Bachmann blog, created by the former head of a local gay Republican group that has become the go-to archive for all things negative about the congresswoman. In 2006, City Pages, a Minneapolis alternative weekly, reported on a 2005 presentation that Dr. Bachmann delivered at the Grace Church in Eden Prairie titled “The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda,” during which he introduced three people as “former homosexuals” as proof that sexual orientation is a choice. That same article also reported that Bachmann & Associates, the Christian counseling center he runs, practiced “reparative therapy,” a method of converting homosexuals to heterosexuality often called “praying away the gay.”

Marcus Bachmann claims that reports of the aim of his practice has been falsely portrayed, stating “if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don’t have a problem with that.” But it’s clear in the wide-ranging WaPo article, that both Bachmanns are “100% aligned” in their social conservative agenda, and that Michele truly believes that “The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands.” And there’s nothing stated that suggests he doesn’t receive taxpayer dollars to “de-gay” clients.

Therefore, Marcus Bachmann and his practice deserve heightened scrutiny. Note these facts:

Inside Bachmann & Associates, a receptionist stacks books titled “Fighting for Your Marriage” near framed Bible verses and cards listing payment options. The center has received more than $100,000 in Medicaid payments over the years. On the registry of national Medicare and Medicaid providers, Dr. Bachmann is listed as a psychologist but without a license number. There are more than a dozen counselors working at the clinic’s two locations whose certifications are included in the registry. Dr. Bachmann is not currently licensed by Minnesota’s mental health or family therapy boards. Minnesota law allows unlicensed mental health professionals to practice.

The Blend has been contacted by a clinical psychologist who has been reading these stories about “Dr.” Bachmann and his alleged “ex-gay” practice and stated these professional concerns:

Someone should publicly ask him to provide a copy of the informed consent that he has patients seeking to undergo “ex-gay” therapy sign. Informed consent is a legal procedure to ensure that a patient or client knows all of the risks and costs involved in a treatment. The elements of informed consents include informing the client of the nature of the treatment, possible alternative treatments, and the potential risks and benefits of the treatment.

In order for informed consent to be considered valid, the client must be competent and the consent should be given voluntarily. It is a signed document.

For ex-gay therapy, the informed consent should tell a patient that “ex-gay” therapy is not proven, is considered “experimental”, is not supported by research, that no medical or mental health association endorses it, that it could have harmful side effects including depression and suicidal ideation, and that change to heterosexuality is not likely. A good informed consent should also list alternative treatments and options, including learning to live life as a celibate homosexual or seeking gay affirmative therapy.

A good informed consent would inform a potential client that she/he could spend years and tens of thousands of dollars seeking “change” but would most likely continue to experience homosexual attractions for the rest of his/her life.

If Michelle Bachman’s husband has nothing to hide then he will release a copy of his informed consent, right? If he has no informed consent, then he is practicing unethically — and recieving government money to do so, if in fact, his clinic recieves government money as it appears. If he has no informed consent, a complaint should be lodged with the liscensing board in his state to have his license suspended. You could also call for one of his clients to come forth and state whether he/she was given an informed consent.

More details below the fold.

Let’s continue setting the table in questioning Marcus Bachmann’s practice.

Here is the applicable section of the ethics code of the American Psychological Association:

“3.10 Informed Consent

(a) When psychologists conduct research or provide assessment, therapy, counseling, or consulting services in person or via electronic transmission or other forms of communication, they obtain the informed consent of the individual or individuals using language that is reasonably understandable to that person or persons except when conducting such activities without consent is mandated by law or governmental regulation or as otherwise provided in this Ethics Code”

Since he earned (on-line) a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from a university program that is not accredited by the American Psychological Association, and bills himself as a “christian counselor” rather than as a psychologist (you must be licensed to use the title psychogist), he must be operating under his masters degree as a “Christian Counselor”.

According to the ethics code of the American Association of Christian Counselors:

1-110 Avoidance of Client Harm, Intended or Not

Christian counselors strictly avoid all behavior or suggestion of practice that harms or reasonably could harm clients, client families, client social systems and representatives, students, trainees, supervisees, employees, colleagues, and third-party payors and authorizers”

As “ex-gay therapy” is known to be harmful, this part of the AACC code is in direct violation with the following:

1-126 Application to Homosexual and Transgendered Behavior

Christian counselors refuse to condone or advocate for the pursuit of or active involvement in homosexual, transgendered, and cross-dressing behavior, and in the adoption gay & lesbian & transgendered lifestyles by clients. We may agree to and support the wish to work out issues of homosexual and transgendered identity and attractions, but will refuse to describe or reduce human identity and nature to sexual reference or orientation, and will encourage sexual celibacy or biblically proscribed sexual behavior while such issues are being addressed.

Christian counselors differ, on biblical, ethical, and legal grounds, with groups who abhor and condemn reparative therapy, willingly offering it to those who come into counseling with a genuine desire to be set free of homosexual attractions and leave homosexual behavior and lifestyles behind. Either goal of heterosexual relations and marriage or lifelong sexual celibacy is legitimate and a function of client choice in reparative therapy.

It is acknowledged that some persons engaged in same-sex change or reparative therapy will be able to change and become free of all homo-erotic behavior and attraction, some will change but will still struggle with homosexual attraction from time to time, and some will not change away from homosexual practices.”

Nonetheless, when discussing informed consent, the AACC code includes the following about ex-gay therapy and informed consent:

“1-331 Special Consent for More Difficult Interventions

Close or special consent is obtained for more difficult and controversial practices. These include, but are not limited to: deliverance and spiritual warfare activities; cult de-programming work; recovering memories and treatment of past abuse or trauma; use of hypnosis and any kind of induction of altered states; authorizing (by MDs) medications, electro-convulsive therapy, or patient restraints; use of aversive, involuntary, or experimental therapies; engaging in reparative therapy with homosexual persons; and counseling around abortion and end-of-life issues. These interventions require a more detailed discussion with patient-clients or client representatives of the procedures, risks, and treatment alternatives, and we secure detailed written agreement for the procedure.”

So even Christian Counselors have informed consent as a ethical requirement. Will Mr Bachmann release a copy of his informed consent?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding