I am a full time adult and general psychiatrist employed by Inland Psychiatric Medical Group (IPMG, private practice group based in California). I have been a psychiatrist for almost 20 years. I started part-time with MindCare Solutions during Covid times in 2020 to break up the monotony of taking care of all my 900 active patients with IPMG from home via telephone calls.
MindCare is a small telepsychiatry group (about seven psychiatrists) and they have a contract with a large national group – Ginger Telepsychiatry. Ginger has about 75 psychiatrists and several hundred therapists and coaches nationwide. Ginger provides mental health care in almost all the U.S. I began work with Ginger on April 1, 2021. Drs. Dana Udall and Jon Kole head Ginger’s department of psychiatry. I dedicated part-time hours to getting to know and help 125 Ginger patients in the past six months.
In mid-September 2021, an LGBT activist (not even a patient) told Drs. Udall and Kole that I am a proponent of therapy that helps those with unwanted same sex attraction to overcome it. They referred to an article in Think Progress, “Ex-Gay Therapist Blames Patients For Their Failure To ‘Pray Away The Gay.’”
The article begins: “Anthony Duk is one of the practitioners of ‘ex-gay therapy’ who is challenging California’s new law banning offering the treatment to minors. He spoke with American Medical News about the suit and explained that yes, his patients have been unsuccessful at changing their sexual orientation, but they’re to blame, not the ‘therapy….'”
The article has a liberal and false slant – I was never gay, thus I am not ex-gay. I am not a therapist, I am a psychiatrist. I don’t blame patients but I do share with them the work they need to do. And I don’t Bible thump or pray with them to overcome their gayness]. I do support SAFE-T (sexual attraction and fluidity exploration in therapy) and the use of authentic therapy to help someone understand why they feel and think, the way they feel and think. I do support helping people with unwanted same-sex attraction to overcome dysfunctional parenting, early childhood peer problems and sexual trauma, to become heterosexual through psychological therapy to help them become authentic people in God’s image.
If sexual orientation shifts result from the therapy, that is a natural byproduct of the therapy, but it is not the intent. And I do support Reintegrative Therapy with Dr. Nicolosi Jr. Reintegrative therapy is done by licensed therapists with the Reintegrative Therapy Association. There are many success stories and it is consistent with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I do not support conversion or reparative therapy. That is the therapy outlawed by both APAs. That therapy aims to change sexual orientation through unregulated therapy and potentially abusive practices such as shaming, physical abuse, electroshocks, Bible-thumping ‘fire/brimstone’, eyelid taping or forced viewing of videos or porn. That is not what I support.
I am a person of conservative Roman Catholic faith who believes patients have a right to determine their goals in therapy and to live consistent with their faith, and if something has happened to them in their past that they think affects their current fantasies, thoughts and behavior and they want to talk about it, then they need to have that option.
I don’t do reintegrative or SAFE-T therapy but I can refer them out to people I know. I’ve only had two patients with unwanted same-sex attraction in my near 20 years as a psychiatrist; the last one was over 10 years ago. I currently have about 30 LGBT patients, and I don’t mention anything about reintegrative therapy or their same sex attraction. I just accept their choices and work with the issues they present in session with a need for med re-evaluation, problems from substance abuse, issues with depression from Covid/ stressors etc. I deal with what they want to talk about. And I don’t bring up what they don’t want to talk about.
My 4.7 out of 5 stars in online ratings show that I can separate my religious and professional beliefs from my care for patients where appropriate. Ginger has never received any complaints from any LGBT patients of mine. I’ve shown that my religious and professional beliefs on unwanted same-sex attraction do not affect my ability to treat LGBT patients properly. And the added benefit I bring is if a patient of faith wants to address their unwanted same-sex attraction, they can talk with me and I can direct them properly. Having me with Ginger has been a win win.
As long as the fake or planted patients (whom I saw a couple of) were filtered out, the issues with negative publicity would never be a problem. Otherwise, without me, Ginger’s current core values, therapists and psychiatrists would likely tell a patient of conservative faith that if they had unwanted same-sex attraction feelings/ thoughts/ behaviors, they should overcome their internal “homophobia,” change religious beliefs, and stop interacting with the family and friends that are making them feel this way.
I do not believe that is ethical treatment for these patients. Despite presenting my case after accusation by the LGBT activist, I was asked to wrap up patient care in three weeks (impossible to do; Ginger has still not transferred patients and does not even have openings with new psychiatrists) and stop my association with Ginger by October 2, 2021 due to differences with Ginger’s core values.
The above was written by Anthony Duk, M.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) and sent to Cal Catholic on October 4. Dr. Duk got his medical degree from Loma Linda University in 2001 and completed the psychiatry program at Loma Linda in 2005. He worked at Kaiser Permanente, Moreno Valley, Sept 2016 to April 2019 and at Inland Psychiatric Medical Group, June 2005 to present.