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Meet Dr. Chris Donaghue

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Chris Donaghue.

Dr. Chris, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised as a “doctors son,” in an upper-middle-class suburb of Philly. I originally fell professionally into general psychology, and then into the sex addiction treatment world in Los Angeles. Working with relationships and sex clinically was exhilarating, but the sex addiction world and a lot of traditional psychology, shame all of the colorful and diverse relational, sexual, and identities of the healthy and beautiful marginalized communities I socialized within.

I knew from my education, I completed a masters program, two doctoral programs, and an intensive multi-year sex therapy certification process along with all my powerful life experiences with those on the margins, that a life of difference was not a disordered life, that creativity was not a pathology, and that the healthiest among us never look like the norm. This is what manifested my mission, and the thesis for my newest book Rebel Love.

I smirk when students email me asking me where I went to school because they want to “do what I do” and build a similar career- but schooling has nothing to do with my success or my journey. School allows for me to practice as a licensed therapist, but it is all of my life’s challenges, moments of opposition and defiance, and alternative experiences of education that have given me something meaningful and interesting to say. That’s how I got on TV. That’s how I bonded with Amber Rose and started our podcast.

That’s why I got published twice, I didn’t follow the rules, and I still don’t. I never fit in, and I wasn’t going to start to try now, and there are still many mornings before I give a keynote at a professional conference or guest as an expert on CNN, that I repeat this to myself, and proudly roll up my sleeves to show my tattoos. They have become a dare- I dare you to water down or erase my legacy of knowledge building and life experience because I’m different from the norm.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a fully smooth ride, but it is not supposed to be. I use my platform to call out oppression and to help transform our culture.

My mission statement is rooted in dismantling a lot of our cultures norms and values- they are often sexist, racist, body shaming, heterocentric, and very sex-phobic. So a lot of push back is a sign that I’m being successful at getting people to think. Self-examination and transformation are not comfortable.

Success for me is challenging and transforming- not our consumer culture’s definition, which tells me my value is found in how much money I make or how my book sells. I’ve learned that I cant challenge culture, and also have widespread approval.

We’d love to hear more about your practice.
I have a diverse and multi-faceted career that includes clinical work along with a lot of activism and media. I’m a practicing therapist in Los Angeles, specializing in relationship and sex therapy.

I also do a podcast with Amber Rose, I host a nightly radio show (I took over the iconic show Loveline from Dr. Drew), I travel lecturing, and just released my second book Rebel Love. All of my platforms are built on liberation, sex and body positivity, and helping people to feel value in who they are, exactly as they are right now.

We live in a culture that tells people they need to change to be desirable- lose weight, don’t age, water down your sexuality, follow gender roles-but my work challenges this by helping support people in building confidence as they already are without having to change because that is true authenticity and self-love.

What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
My childhood was mostly full of feeling marginalized and being tormented for not fitting into the norm. As children, we aren’t sophisticated enough to understand how much this is an actual sign of health because of how toxic the norm is, but we must find ways to survive. I got through my youth with music.

My favorite memories are watching MTV, back when all they did was play music videos because it validated creativity and diversity. It showed the worth in living outside the lines, and in full authenticity.

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