I am an Associate Professor and former Chair in the Department of Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies (SMF). My university education began here at St. Jerome’s (UWaterloo) with an honours BA (Co-op) in Psychology. I later completed interdisciplinary graduate training at the University of Guelph with an M.Sc. in Couple and Family Therapy and PhD in Family Relations and Human Development.
Teaching is one of my greatest joys in life and I am fortunate to have taught courses across two institutions and in a range of areas including: adolescent development, communication and counselling skills, dating, human sexuality, introductory psychology, romantic and family relationships, and research methods. My pedagogy has a strong applied focus and is grounded in interdisciplinary and intersectional frameworks/approaches. Systemic, structural, and power analyses are central to my teaching.
My research interests centre around two domains: identity formation and sexualities/relationships. I am interested in how we construct our sense of self and how experiences, relationships, and life transitions impact our identity. As part of this work, I investigated the relationship between physical appearance and self–body-identity connections and developed and validated an instrument to measure identity functions, which has been translated into several languages and used internationally. My other work focuses on sexualities and relationships in various ways, including online dating, sexual/romantic relationships among nonbinary folxs, and erotophobia/erotophilia.
More recently, I have been examining diversity in gender and gender expressions and how their regulation impacts families, relationships, and gender-based violence. I am working with a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin, on femmephobia, the devaluation and regulation of femininity across bodies and identities. We are currently developing and validating an instrument to measure femmephobia and a drawing on femme theory to promote inclusive, intersectional approaches to the study of families and relationships. We have also partnered on knowledge translation and application projects, including a Femmephobia Workbook and an early parent/caregiver intervention program on femmephobia to reduce 2SLGBTQQIA+ children/youth family rejection and violence.
Complementing my teaching and research identities, I am also a Registered Psychotherapist and Couple & Family Therapist with a small private practice and over 20 years of clinical experience. Much of my current clinical work is with couples and individuals, but I have also worked extensively with adolescents and their families in both private counselling and residential settings.
In my free time, I enjoy reading fiction (vampire and “otherworldly” characters, in particular), travelling, and outdoor activities (hiking, canoeing, SCUBA diving, and paddle-boarding).