Gay Man Claims Mental Health Platform Linked Him With Conversion Therapist

A recent Wall Street Journal article profiled a man who claims a mental health app failed to match him with an affirmative therapist. – Photo: Gilles Lambert, via Unsplash.

A young gay man seeking an affirmative therapist was linked to a practitioner who he claims was trying to get him to “talk.” conversion therapy — highlighting one of the potential failures of online platforms intended to link people with mental health services.

According to an exhibition in the Wall Street Journal On the growth of telehealth services since the COVID-19 pandemic, some patients seeking help through digital mental health platforms are dissatisfied with their experience and complain that the apps and platforms have not linked them with the types of mental health services or therapy they needed. been looking for. One of those individuals was Caleb Hill.

According to the DiaryHill, who was 22 when he was kicked out of his parents’ home after coming out as gay, felt isolated and depressed by his family’s rejection. Growing up in a conservative Christian home where he was taught that his attraction to men was sinful, Hill felt he needed someone to help him deal with the loss of his family.

Hill had heard podcast ads from BetterHelp, a subsidiary of Teladoc Health Inc. that provides therapy remotely, promising “a personalized therapist match that fits your preferences and needs.”

Hill requested a therapist who specialized in LGBTQ issues, but says BetterHelp connected him with one who did not specialize in LGBTQ issues, but one whose personal website describes him as a practitioner of “Christian counseling.”

Hill believes the therapist, Jeffrey Lambert, was trying to put him through conversion therapy, which seeks to discourage people from identifying as LGBTQ by curbing same-sex or gender non-conforming behaviors or impulses.

According to Hill, Lambert asked him if he had ever been physically affectionate with a man. Hill replied that he had not.

“He said, ‘Fine.’ He said that if he wanted to go back to my family, he should think hard about being physical with a man, because it would be much more difficult after that,” Hill said. “He said that if he chose to go back to who he was and deny those feelings, he could take me to where he needed to be.

“He said either you sacrifice your family or you sacrifice being gay,” Hill said, indicating he was disappointed with the type of counseling he received. “I needed someone to tell me that he was gay and that was okay. I got the exact opposite.”

After her session with Lambert, Hill wrote the therapist an email saying she couldn’t go back in the closet and resigned from BetterHelp after sending the note.

“I finally opened the door to the prison I built inside, and the thought of going back kills me,” he wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by the Journal. “It will kill me if I lock myself inside again.”

BetterHelp declined to comment on Hill’s experience, citing patient confidentiality.

“Given the scale of the service, unfortunate and negative experiences are not completely inevitable, BetterHelp told the Diary in a sentence. “This is true in all therapy settings, whether traditional or online.”

The company also noted that clients, like Hill, can switch therapists if they don’t like their assigned one. But Hill said his experience put him off seeing other therapists for a long time.

BetterHelp claims to be opposed to conversion therapy, calling it “dangerous” in a blog post on your website.

“Conversion therapies lack scientific credibility and do not work regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, or other components of human sexuality and human development,” the post read. “Most psychological associations condemn conversion practices. The American Psychiatric Association issued a formal statement that opposes conversion therapy and interventions such as talk therapy.

The American Association for Counseling also rejects the idea that conversion therapy can work, claiming that the practice violates the organization’s Code of Ethics and attempts to treat homosexuality as a mental illness.

A BetterHelp spokeswoman told the Diary:: “If we get information that a therapist performs conversion therapy or similar practices, they would be removed from the platform.”

Lambert, the therapist, declined to discuss his experience with Hill due to client confidentiality rules, but he defended his practice, noting that it has received positive reviews from other clients. However, he did not respond to a message from the Diary asking if she participates in conversion therapy.

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