Richard Cohen gives perhaps the most concise and complete explanation of the general therapy process in Coming Out Straight.
Stage 1: Behavioral Therapy
Establishing a support group, curtailing addictive behaviors
My experience is many churches do a great job with behavioral therapy, but stop there. They have 12 steps, but for an issue as big as SSA, it’s stage 1.
In addition, the client needs to begin forming a support community. While it’s useful to have the company of other men who are also seeking to heal from SSA, it’s more useful to have a group of straight Christian friends who know how to meet the client’s love needs, and that’s based in empathy. Without empathy from others, they will be unable to heal completely. This is why the Recently Straight project is so important. It can take months or years to establish the level of trust necessary for this to take place. Watching dramatic re-enactments of true life stories leads to empathy for the viewer, projecting that empathy onto the client speeds up the process.
Stage 2: Cognitive Therapy
When successfully ending acting-out behaviors, the client becomes more aware of the underlying emotional wounds and unmet love needs. Learning more about relevant issues, the client becomes better able to identify and articulate his own feelings. Most church 12-step programs lack sufficient information to conduct useful cognitive therapy for SSA>
Stage 3: Psychodynamic Therapy for homo-emotional wounds
Once the underlying support framework is in place, psychodynamic therapy aims to heal deep emotional traumas. In stark contrast to brainwashing, the client is encouraged to get in deep touch with his emotions, his goals, his inner troubles. Psychodynamic therapy takes many forms. One form is like role-playing, where the client can re-experience a situation in which they were wounded with the purpose of altering the ending. For overwhelming traumas, EMDR may be employed by a trained therapist to make the recovery of suppressed memories or emotions easier to handle. (Yes, they use that for PTSD, basically the same thing going on here.). The goal is for the client to move from counter-emotions to core emotions, and then from fear anger and sadness to joy (anywhere from contentment to happiness).
It is during this phase that most clients begin to see an abatement of their SSA, though OSA may not develop directly. It is important not to begin this phase until the client has ended addictive behaviors and established a vibrant support network. Some therapies can be done one on one, others will require group participation. “Experiential” weekends are particularly useful here.
Many churches will refuse to conduct, refer or even allow psychodynamic therapy. Fortunately, I will demonstrate in a future post that the Biblical world view is forms a non-arbitrary rational foundation for psychodynamic therapy.
Stage 4: Psychodynamic Therapy for hetero-emotional wounds
Stage 3 saw the continuation of stages 1 & 2, and the application of psychodynamic therapies to homo-emotional and homo-social wounds, i.e. wounds that came from members of the same-sex, whereas stage 4 does approximately the same thing, but with hetero-emotional and hetero-social wounds, i.e. emotional wounds which came from the opposite sex.
It is usually during this stage that OSA will begin to develop.