Christopher Donaghue is a social worker and sex therapist, and was one of the hosts of the short-lived Loveline reboot podcast. He is a contributor to several websites and media outlets on the subject of human sexuality, and is the author of the controversial book Sex Outside the Lines.


Donaghue lists a variety of credentials on his website, in his book and during his media appearances, though the manner this information is presented is sometimes misleading.

Unlike previous Loveline expert hosts who are medical doctors (MD) such as Dr. Drew or Dr. Bruce, Donaghue is not. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), with a state-issued license (#28501) to practice in the state of California.[1] According to his record with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, his license was first issued on May 15, 2012, and as of this writing, is current and with no complaints filed against him. Prior to this, he was licensed as a Associate Clinical Social Worker from July 17, 2006, which represents his training period toward becoming an LCSW under California's system.

Donaghue is reasonably presumed to have a Master’s Degree in Social Work from an accredited school, as this is required to become an LCSW in California.[2] However, it is unknown what school he earned this degree from.

He is also a Certified Sex Therapist (CST), a legally unregulated certification issued by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). AASECT is a professional organization, and has no oversight from any government health department. Becoming a CST requires having at least a Master's degree, a state-issued license of some sort (including social work), a certain level of post-degree experience, as well as course work and supervised training hours..[3]

Most recently, Donaghue claims to have earned a PhD in "Clinical Sexology and Human Sexuality" and began adding the title "Dr." to his name. However, he remains extremely evasive about where he earned this degree, making no mention of it in his book or on his website, and openly ignores fans who inquire about it. Some outlets that have interviewed him have mistakenly listed his degree as being in Clinical Psychology, leading to a misrepresentation that he is a psychologist rather than a social worker. Donaghue's concealment of when or where he earned his PhD has led some fans to speculate that it is likely from an unaccredited school. Former Loveline contributor Emily Morse also has this type of degree, though she rarely mentions it and does not go by the title "Dr."

Approach and ViewsEdit

Donaghue is a strong proponent of the "sex-positive" approach to sexual health. This school of thought is characterized by a highly inclusive view and embracing of all sexual behavior, with few limits other than "safe sex" practices and respecting of consent. It is generally thought of as a solution and counter to highly repressed environments and cultures (especially those influenced by sexually oppressive religious doctrines), which often impose unnecessary mores on sexuality that result in sexual dysfunction and mental health problems.

However, the sex-positive approach is not without blind spots. By being accepting of almost all sexual behaviors, it sometimes endorses behaviors that are actually harmful. This commonly occurs when specific sexual mores are misidentified as being only from a cultural or religious source, when they actually exist for practical reasons and are backed up by scientific research. Another issue is that just because all parties involved give consent doesn't mean a behavior is healthy, and that certain unhealthy behaviors are often actively sought out by people with mental health problems. Here are some examples:

  • Donaghue and others in this school of thought do not believe that sexual addiction exists, dismissing it a label used by an oppressive culture, as well as an excuse used by cheaters. However, there is clear research showing that individuals can and do become addicted to sex to the extent they suffer negative consequences and still continue, to the point of losing their job, relationships, and even physically wounding themselves.[4]
  • Some individuals consent to and are even aroused by overt physical harm, such as being cut, burned, beaten, branded or otherwise mutilated by their sexual partners, which most reasonable people can agree is a harmful impulse.
  • Individuals with a childhood history of psychological trauma are frequently attracted to and aroused by circumstances of that trauma, and suffer re-traumatization or inducing of PTSD flashbacks when they indulge these impulses.[5][6]
  • There are circumstances where a partner can give what looks like consent, but is in reality unable to fully understand what they are getting into, such as when they are impaired by alcohol, have mental illness, are developmentally delayed, or are under-age. Donaghue once argued that under-age individuals can consent to sex and enjoy it, and that it is only society's reaction to the behavior that causes it to traumatic.[7] This same argument is frequently used by child sex offenders.[8]
  • Some sexual and relationship behaviors, while innocuous in and of themselves (at least in theory), can have unpredictable negative emotional results (e.g. threesomes) or be a reflection of subtle mental problems, such as open relationships and polyamory, which are associated with an avoidant attachment style (i.e. discomfort with closeness).[9]

While sex-positive proponents grant that some behaviors are not for everyone, it often encourages individuals to discover this by experimentation, failing to take into account that at that point, the damage is already done.


  1. California Board of Behavioral Sciences - Online License Verification
  2. LCSW License Requirements
  3. AASECT Requirements for Sex Therapist Certification
  4. Patrick Carnes - Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction
  5. Banyard et al. - Retraumatization Among Adult Women Sexually Abused in Childhood
  6. Childhood Sexual Abuse: From Conceptualization to Treatment
  7. Loveline with Amber Rose - Dancing With Thrones
  8. Lawson L (2003). "Isolation, gratification, justification: offenders' explanations of child molesting". Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 24 (6-7): 695–705.
  9. Moors, A. C.; Conley, T. D.; Edelstein, R. S.; Chopik, W. J. (2014). "Attached to monogamy? Avoidance predicts willingness to engage in consensual non-monogamy". Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 32 (2): 222–240.