An Invitation to Sign the IFTCC International Declaration on Therapeutic and Pastoral Choice
February 1, 2024
by Andrè Van Mol, MD
The International Foundation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC) and their global community of member mental health and medical professionals have authored “An International Declaration on Therapeutic and Pastoral Choice,” proposing that “Signatories of this International Declaration call upon our governments, local authorities, human rights, media and religious organisations, to recognise that the right to self-determination is an established principle of international law, and therefore must include the right to shape and develop one’s own sexual identity, feelings and associated behaviours, and to receive support to do so.”
Full disclosure, I am on the IFTCC Clinical and Medical Council. CMDA is one of numerous profession signatories of the declaration, and I am one of more than 1,700 healthcare professionals who have signed. I am inviting you to consider doing the same.
As a matter of background, “The IFTCC exists to support providers who help those experiencing unwanted relational and sexual behaviours, attractions and patterns, or are confused with their gender or wish to de-transition. We are developing a worldwide network of highly-skilled practitioners, counsellors, therapists and allied professionals who offer research-based, scientifically grounded practise, and we are dedicated to maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards. We offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to maintain our Professional Register. The IFTCC seeks to promote a caring, non-judgemental training environment where people supporting those who choose to move away from their unwanted feelings, behaviours, attractions and gender incongruence can find the support they’re seeking. We are also concerned to offer collegial support to those who support these clients through and a range of Memberships.”
The declaration, available in 19 languages, is quite direct and clear. This is the summary version, including links to the broader document and its research support.
- “Banning ‘conversion therapy’ infringes human rights and freedoms, imperilling both therapeutic choice and pastoral, professional and parental rights.” See paragraphs 1-6 of Review Document.
- “Professional bodies promoting discriminatory monocultural viewpoints prevent ideological diversity and critique.” See paragraphs 7-8 of Review Document.
- “‘Mostly-heterosexuals,’ the largest non-heterosexual minority group, are being denied therapeutic support to affirm their heterosexual aspirations.” See paragraphs 9-11 of Review Document.
- “Sexual fluidity happens in both directions but this is being ignored.” See paragraphs 12-17 of Review Document.
- “Banning ‘conversion therapy’ will extend ‘cancel culture,’ silence dissent and inhibit free speech.” See paragraphs 18-25 of Review Document.
- “Political aspirations sacrifice much needed therapy for children and adults who feel distress about their sex.” See paragraph 26 of Review Document.
- “‘Conversion therapy’ bans are unsafe while potential causal links between trauma and same-sex attractions and ‘gender dysphoria’ remain unexamined.” See paragraph 27 of Review Document.
- “Change-allowing therapies do not actually cause ‘harm’ or increase suicidality according to peer-reviewed research.” See paragraphs 28-31 of Review Document.
- “Torture claims in ‘conversion therapy’ are unsubstantiated and are designed to silence dissent.” See paragraphs 32-36 of Review Document.
- “Church leaders conceding to unsafe ‘conversion therapy’ bans defame and undermine the potentially complementary roles of pastoral and professional counselling.” See paragraphs 37-39 of Review Document.
There is an FAQ section, including among others these two most likely queries:
- “How does the Declaration define ‘conversion therapy’?”
“We understand ‘conversion therapy’ to be an imposed political term used to designate and label any viewpoint that opposes the idea of sexual ‘orientation’ being innate (inborn) and immutable (unchangeable). The term is attributed to the APA’s (American Psychological Association) Dr. Douglas Haldeman, who first used the term in 1991.
“The Declaration does not use the term to describe any type of therapy, since we see it as a fake term. There are no groups or individuals known to us who promote themselves as ‘conversion therapists’. For this reason, in the Declaration ‘conversion therapy’ is referred to using quotation marks. Activists appear to impose the term against any group or individual promoting pastoral or standard counselling or psychotherapeutic approaches used when exploring sexual fluidity….”
- “Do you support those who identify as LGBTQ?”
“We support LGBTQ dignity and the right to choice in sexual identity. We do not support the idea that people are born ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ and that there is no choice in how we express our sexuality. We do not believe that sexuality is hardwired in any direction nor that sexual ‘orientation’ is something we are born with.
“We support counselling approaches that are both non-directive and only client-directed. We are aware that clients might not experience any change in feelings, behaviours or attractions, having undergone therapeutic or counselling interventions they have sought out, but have found their sense of wellbeing has nevertheless increased after such counselling.
“The Declaration does not promote any one approach for working through issues around sexual uncertainty. We use the generic term ‘sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy’ (SAFE-T) to refer to therapeutic conversations about sexual fluidity. Change-allowing therapies do not set out to change a person’s sexuality, but sexual feelings may diminish or increase feelings of heterosexual direction for some people, as they explore the meaning of the sexual fluidity in their experience. We do not agree with, or support any coercive pastoral or counselling approach, in any circumstances. The IFTCC therefore does not support ‘conversion therapy’ which it considers a fake-term with a political agenda.”
The “Our Beliefs” of the IFTCC website makes quite clear where the organization’s beliefs stand anthropologically, scientifically and theologically.
Whilst the IFTCC advocates for scientific integrity and research objectivity its anthropological approach is based on a Judaeo-Christian understanding of the human body, marriage and family. More specifically it promotes the following beliefs:
We Believe in:
- The One true God who is the Eternal King, Creator, and Redeemer. . .
- The spiritual unity of the Church . . .
§ The divine inspiration of the Old and New Testaments as Holy Scriptures . . .
§ The Lord Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, God’s Anointed One, the Saviour of humankind. . .
§ The dignity of all people, made male and female in God’s image, to love, be holy and care for one another and creation. . .
§ The present-day ministry of the risen Lord Jesus Christ . . .”
I am specifically and humbly asking you, my colleagues of the CMDA, to co-sign the declaration, which has my strong personal recommendation at https://iftcc.org/the-declaration/.