Nonaccepting parents of sexual minority children typically attribute their child's same-sex orientation to external causes (e.g., early childhood experiences, peer pressure) and perceive sexual orientation as mutable and under their child's control. Using scientific findings to introduce the possibility that sexual orientation may be, at least to some degree, biologically influenced, not a matter of choice and not under the child's control, can reduce blame and anger and elicit empathy among these parents. This article provides therapists with an abbreviated summary of the extant research findings on the association between biology and sexual orientation, and on the results of sexual orientation change efforts, written in easily accessible language of the type we use when working with nonaccepting parents. In addition, we discuss the clinical issues therapists must consider when deciding how and when to introduce such information. Finally, we present a case study to illustrate this therapeutic process.
- Causal attributions