My experience is that the men have been traumatized already, yet taught, usually implicitly, that their wound was not a wound; that their feelings of sadness or anger were not acceptable; or that they should have appreciated the wound as ‘love’. Worse yet, a world ignorant of the details of our lives tells us that everything’s the same as for straight men. These lessons filter how we see everything, and the result is many of these men earnestly believe nothing traumatic has happened to them – yet that belief is just a mask for the trauma, and the emotional pain WILL come out, sideways if it has to. Besides, the origin of the word “reparative” in association with “Reparative Therapy” (which is contrasted to reparative therapy) is not that the therapy repairs, but that the same-sex attractions are themselves a “reparative drive”. In other words eSSA is a subconscious attempt to “repair”, and therefore, we treat it as an indicator of an underlying situation, not our primary focus.
Our over-eroticized culture has twisted many healthy expressions of same-sex affection, examples of which are replete throughout the Old and New Testaments. Men who primarily speak the love ‘language’ of “physical touch”, as described by Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, appear to be especially susceptible to extreme need deprivation in our shell-shocked culture. “Need fulfillment” is the practice of helping men get their legitimate, God-given needs for acceptance, affirmation and affection met in non-erotic ways. By having these needs met, it not only helps us feel ‘ok’ and accepted and good, but also “fills our love tank”. While these activities can be guided by a therapist, they are most beneficial when they happen in authentic relationships, with appropriate boundaries. There are only a handful of support groups vibrant enough to offer this kind of help in everyday-life, so it is a goal for Recently Straight to train Church members across the nation how to erase the cultural corruption and fulfill the God-given needs.
Richard Cohen provides some of the best descriptions of what healthy holding therapy looks like and why it is so helpful and necessary in his text, Coming Out Straight, linked to from our resources page.