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A Gay Therapist

Dear Rabbi Twerski,

We are helping someone on He recently wrote me the following question, and I feel unqualified to take the responsibility to decide. Can you please help us? 

Here is what he wrote:

I am currently seeing a sex therapist. I had a conversation with him today about his own sexual history and found out that he is gay. He doesn't believe that he has something to recover from. He believes its part of life. He only has one partner and doesnt cheat on him. He use to be a porn addict and recovered.

The reason that it bothers me to the point that I am thinking about having him recommend me to someone else, is that the whole reason that I am going for therapy is to help me work on myself so that I would not do porn again. Now porn might not be considered gilui arayos. However being gay is considered to be in that category. My point is that I am trying to strive to get rid of this addiction so that i wont end up doing gilui arayos, for example by cheating on my wife with another married woman. Because who knows where porn might lead me. So how can I work with, and  keep on getting help from someone who disregards something that I am desperate to avoid ever happing to me in the future?

So do you think that despite these reasons I should still carry on with him? He really is helping me out, because I am for the first time really opening up of when and how this all started. That doesn't mean though, that someone else cant help me. He is very good in his field, he is a specialist for these problems. However should I ignore the core problem or not?


Rabbi Twerski replies:

Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I was en rout to Israel and did not have e-mail access until now.


I think that he should express his gratitude toward the therapist who has helped him, but should ask for a referral to another therapist.



We ask Rabbi Twerski again:

Hi Rabbi Twerski, after his first e-mail to me, which I sent you below, he sent me another one the next day as follows:

I spoke again to my therapist today and he mentioned something that I should put in consideration while I make my decision. He said that while his other Orthodox patients that he has helped might have thought about the same questions that I had, regarding his sexually, they didn't bother asking him these questions - not that he would have minded answering them. But since they didn't ask them, perhaps like me, they wouldn't like the fact that the he might tell them that he is gay, which might make them stop coming. Where as by me, I did end up asking him that question, despite this notion. And the reason that he thinks that this may be is, whether partly subconsious or not, perhaps I felt that it might be a way out to stop attending therapy which otherwise might have helped me get rid of my problem for good. That part of me is scared to entirelly stop with this addiction. 

Now, I still stand on about what i wrote you yesterday, however being that he claims that he has been gay ever since he can remember and that he is probably one of the best in the country in his field, might make me reconsider my objections to carry on. Maybe I can put aside our differences and respect him that he stopped acting on cybersex or cyberporn, and that he is faithfull with his partner?  

In light of this second e-mail, does the Rav still feel he should change therapists? I am sorry for asking again...


Rabbi Twerski replies:

Inasmuch as this may be an halacha issue, I'm going to ask my posek.



A few days later he replies:


Regarding the gay therapist, as long as he does not discuss condoning homosexuality, he does not have to switch.


Boruch, moderator of the "Back to Basics" 12-Step phone group shares his thoughts about this issue:

Before we get to the therapist it is a very interesting question.
"I am trying to strive to get rid of this addiction so that i wont end up doing gilui arayos, for example by cheating on my wife with another married woman. Because who knows where porn might lead me. So how can I work with, and  keep on getting help from someone who disregards something that I am desperate to avoid ever happing to me in the future?"
I personally feel that the question may pose far less obvious a problem than it seems at first sight.
Let's begin with something that involves no aveiros. Food. Not everyone who overeats has a problem with food addiction. There are those who indulge but could stop whenever they want to and there are those who cannot stop overeating but have no personal problem with it and therefore no interest in stopping. Problem addiction is only both wanting to stop and being unable to do so.
Personally I would have no problem at all going for my own recovery from overeating to a therapist who overeats as long as either he could stop if he wanted to or he had no interest at all in stopping. I would be going to him not to learn to want to stop, I know that on my own, I would be going to him to learn how to stop. So as long as he is not in active addiction, as long as he is not stuck like me both wanting to stop and being unable to stop, I personally would be fine with that.
Now what if additionally this overeating therapist was a yid and ate tarfus? Again as long as he was not suffering from active addiction, trying to stop and failing I would have no problem. 
So what would the problem be for me with a gay therapist who had no problem with his own gayness have for me?
For me, a gay therapist would be different on two possible levels. Firstly there would be a Yiddishkeit question of the hashpo'o of such hashchosso. Secondly there would be the question of my own emotional comfort level associating with someone like that.
Rabbi Twerski asked a she'eilo about the first and the second question of comfort level is a more personal one for each individual and may be less important than the effectiveness of the therapist.  
Having said all that ignoring the wider question explored above of haskoofo and comfort level and looking purely from the perspective of a 12-Step approach to addiction the question above does not even begin. Tradition 10 of SA states:
10.  Sexaholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the SA name ought never be drawn into public controversy. 
In it's application to its own sobriety definition this is what the White Book has to say on page 191:
In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Sexaholics Anonymous. We can only speak for ourselves.
Additionally Roy K clearly wrote in articles and letters that SA is not for everyone. He wrote that it is only intended for those who identify with the SA sobriety definition.
So if the therapist did not belong to SA which is highly likely, then from a purely SA perspective we have no opinion on what his sobriety is or what it should be.
So, if for example the therapist did not belong to any fellowship or if he belonged to any other "S" fellowship like SLAA where you define your own sobriety (it could even be casual gay sex no problem as long as no gay prostitutes) then from a purely 12-Step perspective he may well be sober by his own definition and we would not judge him.
Of course that would not have anything to do with halachic or personal questions but at least as far as addiction and recovery are concerned from an SA perspective we would take no stance on his sexual sobriety if he does not consider himself an SA member. 
One thing that is very clear though is the SA sobriety definition.
From the White Book page 4:
Thus, for the sexaholic, any form of sex with one's self or with partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive. 
White Book pages 191,192 (see especially note - my bolding in the note)
for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the spouse.  For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind.  And for all of us, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust.*

(* In SA’s sobriety definition, the term “spouse” refers to one’s partner in a marriage between a man and a woman.)
So it is unlikely that the therapist considers himself an SA member. That said it is always possible however unlikely that the therapist is involved in SA. Much as there are alcoholics in AA who do not belong because they wish to moderate rather than abstain there are likewise people in SA who do not belong because they have no interest in keeping the sobriety definition.