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Sexpert Spotlight Series with Rachel Wright

                                     

Psychotherapist Rachel Wright is recognized as one of the freshest voices on modern relationships and sex. With a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology, Rachel has worked with thousands of humans worldwide, and has brought her message to stages across the globe. 

How did you get your start in the field of Sex Education?

I have been interested in the things we’ve been told “not to talk about” for as long as I can remember. I constantly asked my parents, “why” when they would give me a reason or answer to/about something.

The same went for human behavior — specifically around sex and relationships. So, I found myself as an undergraduate psychology student taking ever human sexuality course I could and hosting sex toys parties — where I would learn everything about tons of sex toys and go into people’s homes for parties! Think Mary Kay, but sex toys. Yep, that was me.

I quickly learned I loved the educational piece and actually enjoyed selling, but it wasn’t about the commission — it was about knowing this person was learning, expanding their comfort zone & investing in themselves.

As I continued my psychology studies, I learned about sex therapy and realized that I could have a career at the intersection of sex, relationships, and mental health and that’s what I do now!

As a licensed psychotherapist, sexologist and educator I get to write, speak, advise and create content all around sex, relationships and mental health! I work a lot in the LGBTQ & Ethical Non-Mongomous communities — as well as keep my sliding scale open for sex workers and artists.

What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? 

I work at the intersection of sex, mental health, and relationships and love working with people so much. I love helping people feel empowered in their own lives and like they have the tools to build the relationships they so desire. We are really just beginning to learn, educate, and put into practice language that is nurturing, attentive, and empathic in our relationships. We are learning how to communicate in ways that help us to truly get to know each other in the most vulnerable of ways. One of my favorite parts about this work is getting to help share these tools—because we are all just wanting to be understood and to understand each other.

Right now, my work gets split about 50/50 in terms of working with other businesses to help them put out accurate and engaging content around mental health, sex and relationships (sometimes that’s sitting on an advisory board, sometimes that’s creating TikTok videos, writing articles for mainstream media outlets, or testing toys and creating reviews.

You talk a lot about mental health as it relates to sexual health, why do you feel it’s  important to discuss both simultaneously?  

I think it’s important to discuss both simultaneously because they are both very much intertwined. Our bodies and minds work together—sex and mental health are no different!

Our sexual health helps feed into our overall mental health and oftentimes, vise versa! We are also learning to break free from sexual shame, really as a society, and how much this has affected people’s overall mental health.

I want to help give people the language and tools they need to better understand themselves and communicate with partners while also encouraging them to explore however they want to—and I believe that is all connected to the health of both our mental and sexual selves.

What do you feel is the biggest gap in mainstream sex education?

Lol, where do I begin? I think a huge gap is in communication—or really, lack thereof. The lack of communication leads to shame, confusion, lack of consent—you name it! If we educated people properly, there would be a lot more acceptance, understanding, access to options, less discrimination, and more body positivity.

That old way of thinking that if you talk to kids about sex they will want to have sex—nope, let’s ditch that. We are sexual humans—we are going to do it anyway so let’s educate, de-shame, and help young people feel prepared for whatever sexual decisions they choose to make.

Along with that lack of communication, I think there is a lack of proper education. Specifically about things like STIs—we scare young people and teach them about only the extreme cases. We need to educate about everything—how to prevent, what to happen if you get one, how to communicate to current/future partners—and, most of all—we need to remove the shame altogether. 

You share candidly about your personal life and relationships. What kind of feedback do you get from family, friends and clients? 

HAHA. The answer is definitely different for all of these different categories of people. My immediate family have always been incredibly supportive of me sharing what I want to share. They’ve definitely questioned it in terms of safety and it impacting my professional career, but their questions always came from a place of wanting to understand me more -- not to pass judgment or share “concern” based in societal shoulds.

My extended family is a mixed bag — some of them have understood it from day one and some still don’t and think I’m “way too public.” My answer to that is “way to public for who?” Also, I am very conscious about what I share. As a therapist, it’s very important to me that I share things that are helpful — even if they’re messy. AND, I’m not here to subject my Instagram followers or anyone else to my messy middle, unless it’s helpful.

My friends have always been amazing and if they’re not, they’re usually not a good friend of mine? I’ve shared so openly, even before I knew fully what I was doing, so most of the friends in my life either met me like that or adjusted a while back

In terms of clients, many of them find me ON social media, so they’re familiar with my level of sharing. Sometimes I’ll have newer clients say they’re not used to knowing things about their therapist and we’ll use that as a great discussion point in session. Also, anyone, anytime can block me or not watch my stuff. My account is set for anyone 18+ and anyone who doesn’t want to see it, doesn’t have to.

What do you wish people better understood about Ethical Non Monogamy?

It’s not cheating. It’s not about deceit, lying, or sneaking around. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Also, there are SO many different versions of ENM. Ethical Non Monogamy (ENM) generally gets a bad wrap because we live in a monogamous society that still doesn’t really love to talk about sex (even though we actually do - think LoveLine- but just not in proactive ways). So, ENM immediately gets branded—you’re polyamous so you can have more sex? I mean that’s definitely a perk, but there are far more aspects than just that!

I am polyamous because I wanted more— more love, more vulnerability, more sex, more family—more. Our culture paints a picture of relationships that tends to look a bit possessive, meaning that there is one person for us (if this is your style and it works for you, wonderful)—this model, though, sets up a pretty scary foundation because if one person sways just a bit or grows in a different direction, it could be life-altering or relationship ending.

But ethical non-monogamy, and polyamory  isn’t possessive— it’s about loving people for the multifaceted humans that they are, being comfortable with being uncomfortable, and having very raw, vulnerable conversations. We are complex humans who are also growing and evolving—ENM/Polyam not only gives me the freedom to explore the personalities of so many amazing people, but it also gives me the freedom to continue exploring myself. 

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Becoming a licensed therapist. I wanted to be a therapist for so long and the licensing process in California, where I got my MFT (marriage family therapist) license, is one of the hardest states to do that in. It was one of the hardest processes I’ve ever been through and will hold on to my license until the end of time.

What is your favorite pleasure product of all time? 

Hmmm… this is so hard! I’m going to say… The Le Wand Petite Pink.

Best advice you were ever given about sex, love and relationships? 

Ignorance isn’t an excuse. The information is out there.

Where can our readers find you online?

  • I am very active on my Instagram (@thewright_rachel), we have a Team RW Patreon (The RW Squad), and you can read my blog on my website (rachelwrightnyc.com). I also write for SHAPE, InStyle, mindbodygreen &  Well+Good on a regular basis.