August 4, 2021

Thaddeus Heffner, MMFT Discusses Reparative Therapy and the Ethical Right to Self-Determine

When it comes to mental health, Thaddeus Heffner, MMFT agrees that the “right to self-determination is a keystone ethic.” Autonomy refers to the promotion of self-determination, or the freedom of clients to choose their own direction.  Respect for autonomy, notes Thaddeus Heffner, entails acknowledging the right of another to choose and act in accordance with his or her wishes, and the professional behaves in a way that enables this right of another person.” (Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions, Corey, Corey & Callanan, pg17)

Thaddeus Heffner explains that reparative therapy is a therapeutic approach to help those who desire to move away from homosexuality and toward gender wholeness.  While there are those who work in Mental Health that might not agree with a reparative approach, Thaddeus Heffner is in the business of supporting clients who self-determine to diminish their struggle with SSA, embracing a reparative approach.

Thaddeus Heffner agrees with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Code of Ethics which states in Principle I: Responsibility to Clients: 1.2 Marriage and family therapists obtain appropriate informed consent to therapy or related procedures as early as feasible in the therapeutic relationship…and 1.8 Marriage and family therapists respect the rights of clients to make decisions and help them to understand the consequences of these decisions…”

Thaddeus Heffner says the AAMFT (2001) goes on to clearly state that “discrimination, or behaving differently and usually unfairly toward a specific group of people, is unethical and unacceptable.”

“There has been an ongoing debate regarding clients who seek reparative therapy for their struggles with unwanted SSA (same sex attraction),” acknowledges Thaddeus Heffner.  However, these people do not consider themselves gay identified, and do not wish to embrace that identity, points out Thaddeus Heffner.  To tell them they are wrong to deny their feelings and that instead they should embrace a gay identity is to take away a client’s right to self-determine their own path; something Thaddeus Heffner would never do because it would be a breech of ethics.

Thaddeus Heffner believes if you take away the self-determination of one people group, you take away the self-determination of all people groups.  Remove the keystone of self-determination, concludes Thaddeus Heffner, and the archway of ethics and trust come crashing down.

Thaddeus Heffner, MMFT sees clients locally in his Brentwood, Tennessee office and internationally on the web.  Please visit to contact Thaddeus Heffner for more information.


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