Richard A. Cohen
Richard A. Cohen (born 1952) is a psychotherapist, author, sexual orientation therapists. Cohen, founder and Executive Director Emeritus of the International Healing Foundation, gives lectures and runs seminars and workshops on his theories of how to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and men and women who experience unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA). Cohen, who once lived a gay life in his youth, underwent years of psychotherapy to heal childhood sexual abuse, which he says subsequently led to his homosexual feelings. His therapy and personal growth helped him understand his same-sex attractions and eventually, transition to heterosexuality.
Cohen lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their three children. His foundation, the International Healing Foundation, offers psychotherapy, coaching, and teleconferencing classes for members of the LGBT community and individuals with unwanted SSA.
Cohen has described a troublesome childhood and abusive home life that he purports to be the cause of his homosexuality later in life.
While attending Boston University he became an evangelical Christian and later joined the Unification Church, where he said, he remained celibate for long periods. The Unification Church rejects homosexual behavior. In 1982 Cohen married Jae Sook, a South Korean woman suggested to him by church leader Sun Myung Moon. Cohen says that during the first three years of his marriage he spent time "running around" with a boyfriend in New York. Cohen describes this time as a period of turmoil that led him to pursue healing from his past.
International Healing Foundation
According to Cohen he works under the auspices of the International Healing Foundation, a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization founded by him in 1990 to treat same-sex attraction.
He is not licensed as a therapist. Cohen avoids state licensing requirements by asking for donations to his foundation instead of payment.
Expulsion from the ACA
In 2002 Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association, after it accused him of six violations of its ethics code, which bars members from actions which "seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients, those that exploit the trust and dependency of clients, and for soliciting testimonials or promoting products in a deceptive manner."
Cohen stated that the expulsion was for his efforts in the ex-gay movement, specifically for the book Coming Out Straight, and for one complaint. He did not appeal, and joined others in calling the ACA "a biased organization" and "gay-affirming club".
After his expulsion, Cohen is not currently certified or licensed to be a clinician or psychotherapist.
Cohen was then interviewed by Jason Jones on the March 19, 2007 episode of The Daily Show. Cohen was on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on June 28, 2006, and was interviewed on The Rachel Maddow Show on December 8, 2009, and The Michelangelo Signorile Show on April 17, 2010 on the Sirius radio network.
Ideas regarding sexual orientation
Cohen claims that repeated molestation by a male relative while he was a child caused him to identify as a homosexual as a result of learned behavior. He says that dealing with the psychological damage that resulted from the molestation allowed him to revert to his "natural heterosexuality." He believes that all homosexuals are actually heterosexuals who can find peace and self esteem through healing and restoration of their natural heterosexuality.
Cohen's 2001 book Coming Out Straight calls homosexuality a "same-sex attachment disorder" and details his methods of sexual reorientation therapy, including his theory of the causes of same-sex attraction (among them, divorce, death of a loved one, and race), his methods of changing sexual orientation, and stories of people who have undergone his therapies.
Cohen describes the "hidden meanings" of same-sex attraction as:
- need for same-sex parent's love
- need for gender identification
- fear of intimacy with the opposite sex
Though Cohen believes that one of the causes of homosexuality in men is the lack of bonding with the male parent, he does not believe that the cause of heterosexuality in males is due to the lack of bonding with the female parent, rather that heterosexuality is the "natural" condition of all people. Cohen uses a technique called bioenergetics. Cohen also uses holding therapy, which involves physical touch and repeating affirming words to attempt to establish healthy, non-sexual bonding that may have been absent during childhood. In Cohen's Counselor training program manual he states that only opposite-sex attracted mentors or same-gender parents should give holding therapy, and quoting from his 2000 book Coming Out Straight that the mentor should not be the same person as the therapist. However in a televised interview with Paula Zahn on CNN, he is shown hugging a patient who is lying in his lap and explaining that the patient didn't experience proper nurturing growing up.
Cohen has said, "If someone wants to live a gay life, that needs to be respected. If someone wants to change and come out straight, that too needs to be respected. Let us practice true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all."
- Cohen, Richard A; Elizabeth Sherman. Alfie's Home (1993) ISBN 0-9637058-0-6, self-published.
- Cohen, Richard A; Laura Schlessinger. Coming Out Straight (2000) ISBN 1-886939-41-1, Oakhill Press, equity publisher.
- Cohen, Richard. Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing (2007) ISBN 978-0-8308-3437-2, Inter-Varsity Press.
- Boodman, Sandra G. (2005-08-16). "A conversion therapist's unusual odyssey". Washington Post From a page on the IHF website: My heritage is Jewish. I grew up in the Jewish faith and was bar mitzvahed and confirmed in a Reform synagogue. While attending Boston University, I was introduced to Christianity and read the New Testament for the first time. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in October 1972. A few years later, I met the Unification Church and felt called to join in 1974. From 1983, when I began psychotherapy and my healing journey, my relationship with the Unification Church began to wane. In 1988, my family and I lived with the Wesleyan Christian Community, outside of Seattle, Washington. We attended fellowship services with them for two and a half years. Our ties to the Unification Church weakened until we finally left altogether in 1995. For the next few years we attended many Christian churches. In the fall of 1997, we met a local evangelical church in our community and joined in 1998. We have been members ever since. pp. HE04. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- Cohen, Richard (2007-07-20). "Born gay? No way!". New Statesman. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
- Mark Simkin (August 22, 2006). "USA - Gay Conversion". ABC TV. Retrieved February 13, 2007.
- THE UNIFICATION CHURCH AND HOMOSEXUALITY B.A. Robinson, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 2005
- Richard Cohen, ex-gaytruth
- Cohen, R. Coming Out Straight. Retrieved on 04-07-2007.
- Notification of Results Letter, American Counseling Association. Retrieved 04-07-2007.
- Najafi, Yusef (2005-03-04). "Activist calls ex-gay leader "dishonest". Besen criticizes PFOX president for not disclosing past". Washington Blade. Window Media. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "Debunking a "cure" for homosexuality". Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- Showtime: Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Season 3 Episode 2: "Family Values". Retrieved on February 13, 2011.
- New Therapy Claims to "Cure" Homosexuality, Paula Zahn Now, May 23, 2006, CNN.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#34337416 Rachel Maddow: Debunking a 'cure' for homosexuality
- Quote from book (link to Maddow interview in which he defends quote). Retrieved on 12-10-2009.
- Audio Tapes and CDs (order page from Richard Cohen's website). Retrieved on 04-07-2007.
- Brown, J. Experts Split Over 'Bizarre' Sexual Orientation Therapy Techniques, Agape Press, 06-20-2006. Retrieved on 04-07-2007.
- Cohen, Richard (2008). "Healthy touch in the healing process, part I. Counselor training program manual". Change is possible. Newsletter winter 2008. International healing foundation. pp. 5, 7–8. Retrieved 2009-02-24. "only the OSA (Opposite-Sex Attracted) mentors or one's same-gender parent (if s/he is capable, willing and available), should be the bearers of the gift of healthy touch for those with unwanted SSA. [...] “The therapist or counselor should not be the men-tor. The therapist may help train mentors; however, it is ill advised for him to stand in as the mentor” (p. 203)."[dead link]
- "Rachel Maddow: Richard Cohen Cures Homosexuality by Cuddling the Gay Away" (May 23, 2006) CNN
- Alfie's home by Richard A Cohen; Elizabeth Sherman WorldCat
- Coming out straight: understanding and healing homosexuality by Richard A Cohen; Laura Schlessinger WorldCat
- Gay children, straight parents : a plan for family healing by Richard Cohen WorldCat
- International Healing Foundation - An organization Richard Cohen founded