About Us
Toni Serafini
Toni Serafini
Associate Professor
Department of Sexuality, Marriage, & Family Studies

PhD, University of Guelph

MSc, University of Guelph

BA, St. Jerome's University/University of Waterloo




SH 2221
Image of Dr. Toni Serafini

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).


The content that follows may only represent a portion of the Faculty member's work.


Selected Publications and Presentations (*denotes work with students)

Hoskin, R.A., Serafini, T. & Gillespie, J.G. Femmephobia versus gender norms: Examining women’s responses to competing and contradictory gender messages. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 32(2), 191-207. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.2023-0017


Hoskin, R.A. & Serafini, T. (2023). Critically feminizing family science: Using femme theory to generate novel approaches for the study of families and relationships. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 15(2), 292-312. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12499


Hoskin, R. A., Serafini, T., Scott, J., & Blair, K. (2023). The femmephobia 101 workbook (C. Zhang, Illus.). Available at Lulu Publishing or https://www.ashleyhoskin.ca/resources


Hymers, M.J.*, Rehman, U., Serafini, T. (2020, October). Understanding the relationship between sexual communication and sexual desire discrepancy in couples. Poster presentation for the Canadian Sex Research Forum Conference (Online).


Rye, BJ, Traversa, M.*, Serafini, T., & Bramberger, T.R.* (2019) Sexual Liberalism Scale. In Milhausen, R., Sakaluk, J.K. Fisher, T.D., Davis, C.M., & Yarber, W. (Eds) The Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures (4th Ed.). Taylor & Francis.


Serafini, T.E., & Fleischauer* (2017, October). Dating without the binary: How non-binary people approach and navigate romantic and sexual relationships. Oral presentation at the Canadian Sex Research Forum Conference, Fredericton, NB


Sica, L. S., Crocetti, E., Ragozini, G., Aleni Sestito, L., & Serafini, T. (2016). Future-oriented or present-focused? The role of social support and identity styles on the future orientation of late adolescents and emerging adults. Journal of Youth Studies, 19 (2), 183-203.


Serafini, T. E., Rye, BJ, & Puodziunas, S.* (2016, October). Digital Connections: Exploring Online Dating Among Canadian Post-Secondary Students. Oral presentation at the Canadian Sex Research Forum Conference, Quebec City, QU.


Serafini, T. E., Rye, BJ, & Rowell, A.* (2016, March). Body-Identity Connections: Shaping Identity Through Body Projects. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Baltimore, MD.


De Santis, C. & Serafini, T.E. (2015). Classroom to Community: Reflections on Experiential Learning and Socially Just Citizenship. In T. Penny Light, J. Nicholas, and R. Bondy (Eds.), Feminist Pedagogy in Higher Education: Critical Theory and Practice (pp.87-112). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.


Rye, B.J., Serafini, T., & Bramberger, T.R.* (2015). Erotophobic or Erotophilic: What are young women's attitudes toward BDSM?. Psychology & Sexuality, 6(4), 340-356.


Serafini, T., & Maitland, S. B. (2013). Validating the Functions of Identity Scale: Addressing methodological and conceptual matters. Psychological Reports, 112 (1), 160-183.


Serafini, T.E., Rye, B.J., & Drysdale, M.T.B. (Eds., 2013). Taking sides: Clashing views in adolescence (3rd Edition). Dubuque, IO: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.


Crocetti, E., Sica, L.S., Schwartz, S.J., Serafini, T., & Meeus, W. (2013). Identity styles, processes, statuses, and functions: Making connections among identity dimensions. European Review of Applied Psychology, 63, 1-13.


Serafini, T. & De Santis, C. (2011). Undergraduate students identify what fosters critical self-reflection in higher learning. In N. Simmons (Ed.), Opportunities and new directions: Canadian scholarship of teaching and learning, Volume 2. Waterloo, ON: Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE), University of Waterloo.


Serafini, T. (2011, April).  My identifier is ‘Big Tits’?!:  Cosmetic Enhancements and Identity Formation in Adolescent Women.  Oral presentation at the Medicalization of Sex Conference 2011, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


2022:     Co-Applicant, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Preventing and Addressing Family Violence - the Health Perspective grant - proposal submitted (“We Are Family: Challenging the Roots of 2SLGBTQQIA+ Family Rejection & Violence via Early Parent Intervention on Femmephobia”)


2021:     Collaborator, Tri-Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant ($69,987; Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin, Principal Investigator)


2021/22:    Nominated for the Waterloo Undergraduate Students Association (WUSA) Teaching Award


2011-2012:      Aid to Scholarly Publications Fund, St. Jerome’s University

2009-2010:      Faculty Research Fund, St. Jerome’s University

2010-2011:      Faculty Research Fund, St. Jerome’s University

2003-2005:      SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship

2002-2003:      Ontario Graduate Scholarship


SMF 101: Introduction to Relationships and Families

SMF 207:  Parents, Children, and Family Relations
SMF 211: Dynamics of Dating
SMF 301: Communication and Counselling Skills
SMF 304: Human Sexuality in Relationships
SMF 400: Capstone Seminar

SMF 496: Seminar in Family Studies [Topic: Intersecting Identities in Relationships]

PSYCH 101: Introductory Psychology


Dating, Relationships, Families

Intersectionality and Inclusivity

Femme Theory and Femmephobia


The content that follows may only represent a portion of the faculty member's work.


2020 - present:        Editorial Board, Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research

2019 - present:        Editorial Board, Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

2017 - present:        College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)

                                 Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT)

2016 - present:        Canadian Sex Research Forum, Member (and Conference Program Committee 2017-18, 2021-22)

2016  -2022:             St. Jerome’s University Board of Governors

2017 - 2020:             SJU Academic Staff Association Equity Committee

2015  -2020:             He4She Committee (UW/SJU)

2012-2020:               Department Chair, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies

1998 - 2020:             American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) & Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT)

2011 - 2017:             Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) Board of Directors

2006 - 2017:             Society for Research on Adolescence

2002 - 2017:             Society for Research in Identity Formation