Repair, analyze or affirm?

In August, the Tennessean ran an article on the Southern Baptist Convention's modified approach to gays and lesbians who wish to remain in the church. This was followed by several pro and con op-ed pieces that continue to demonstrate the passion, fervor and religiosity on the topics of what causes homosexuality and what options an individual has in heterosexually oriented societies to find peace with themselves and perhaps others.

In response to this dilemma, the Nashville Psychoanalytic Study Group (NPSG) and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has invited Ralph Roughton, M.D., a leader in the American Psychoanalytic Association and long time advocate of psychotherapy, to host a discussion open to the public on the goals and intentions of three primary therapy approaches.

The event is Sat., Oct. 20, at Vanderbilt’s Frist Hall 104, located on 21st Avenue across from the Wesley Place Building, from 9:30 a.m. to Noon. Cost is $15 to the public, and students attend free. Coffee and bagels will be provided, and parking is available in the Wesley Place Garage behind CVS.

The discussion will begin with a short presentation outlining the assumptions, methods and goals of reparative therapy, gay-affirmative therapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

The reparative therapist says, "It's not okay to be gay, and I'll help you change." The gay-affirmative therapist says, "It's okay to be gay," but runs the risk of affirming a stereotype without the patient fully feeling okay. The modern psychoanalytic psychotherapist says, "It's okay to be who you are, and we'll work together to discover the real you." But what do these therapies look like in practice?

Attendees will have the chance to ask questions and challenge notions about these therapies, but more importantly, will have a chance to compare outcomes as Roughton presents case material from these varied approaches.

Roughton, an openly gay analyst, also plans to compare the clinical treatment of a bisexual man from an analytic treatment 30 years ago and discuss how he would work with the same man differently today.

Roughton, a Training and Supervising analyst at the Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute, served as education director from 1983-86 and director of the Institute from 1986-91. He is also a clinical professor in the Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In 1991, Roughton was appointed the first Chair of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s (APsaA) Committee on Issues of Homosexuality (currently known as the Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues).

When he came out within the psychoanalytic profession in 1996, Dr. Roughton became the first openly gay training and supervising psychoanalyst to be recognized within the American and International Psychoanalytic Associations.

For more information, contact Hal Schofield, M.D., president of NPSG, at 615-460-0001 or email him at

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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