School of Social work grad becomes award-winning author and sex therapist
While Stefani Goerlich is a licensed clinical social worker, she is not your typical therapist. She is a sex therapist, specializing in working with Gender, Relationship, and Sexual Diversities (GRSD) as well as religious minority clients and has more than 15 years of experience supporting survivors of domestic and sexual trauma, including high-risk young people, commercial sex workers, and survivors of human trafficking.
Goerlich earned a Master of Social Work from Wayne State University , a Certificate in Sex Therapy from the University of Michigan, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Sexology. She recently joined U of M’s Online Sexual Health Certificate Program as a core faculty member, teaching a course on problematic sexual behaviors, erotic minority populations, and digital sexuality. She is currently the founder and Clinical Director of Bound Together Counseling, a private practice based in Metro Detroit, Michigan, where she offers Sex, Relationship and Mental Health therapy to members of the GSRD community, their partners, and their families.
“I wanted to stay in my wheelhouse of sexual and relational health but flip the coin and focus on the more positive side of human sexuality. I spend my days helping people have stronger, happier, healthier relationships with their bodies, their partners, and themselves. It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Goerlich.
Goerlich realized that her chosen career path might be misunderstood and offensive to some, it didn’t deter her from her goals.
“I don’t think most parents expert their children to grow up to be ‘sexperts,’ but for the most part, my family has rolled with it. My mother and stepfather are incredibly proud of my work, even if they don’t want to hear the details of who I work with or read every article I am quoted in. My mother-in-law is one of my biggest cheerleaders and I am forever grateful for her unwavering enthusiasm,” she said.
She has had some losses associated with her work, as her father doesn’t accept her profession and has distanced himself significantly.
“For him, my work conflicts with his faith and, rather than seeing it as an extension of my own core beliefs, he has chosen not to support me. That’s always painful. Every child, no matter how old, wants their parents’ approval. But I believe it is my calling to help those who have been made to feel dirty or ostracized because of who they are. I refuse to let someone else make me feel the same way. I am incredibly proud of the work I do, and I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon,” she said.
Goerlich is the author of The Leather Couch: Clinical Practice with Kinky Clients (which won awards from three U.S. sexual health organizations), and Kink-Affirming Practice: Culturally Competent Therapy from The Leather Chair. With Sprinkles on Top: Everything Vanilla People and Their Kinky Partners Need to Communicate, Explore and Connect comes out in October 2023. Her next two books, BDSM & Kink: The Basics and Securing Sexuality: A Clinician’s Guide to Emerging Issues at the Intersection of Intimacy and Technology (co-written with her partner, Wolfgang Goerlich), are scheduled for publication in 2024.
She has also served as a subject matter expert for articles in many publications, including The New Yorker and Cosmopolitan, and discusses current events and hosts a weekly podcast with her husband called “Securing Sexuality.”
“We focus on topics at the intersection of intimacy and technology, or what we like to call ‘safe sex in a digital age.’ We’ve had some amazing guests on the podcast to talk about things ranging from state surveillance of LGBTQI+ and religious minorities, to how to make sure personal information is safe online, to how to make sure your sex-tech toys don’t get hacked,” she said.
Goerlich has been hosted on campus for several events sponsored by the WSU Alumni Association Small Plates, Big Ideas Program, moderating topics such as the BDSM community. Including last year when she was a guest speaker for a School of Social Work class, discussing gender, sexuality, and relationship diversities, and how future clinicians can offer Kink-Affirming Practice in their work.
“The group I spoke to asked some wonderful questions and seemed to genuinely connect with the message of inclusion, acceptance, and normalization. I had such as good time and was a guest speaker again recently!” she said.
Goerlich is organizing a two-day conference called “Securing Sexuality,” scheduled for October 19 and 20, 2023 at the Atheneum Suite Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. The conference will feature keynote speakers discussing technology and intimacy and mental health and sexuality. For information on tickets click here. Use coupon code WSUSW50 to save $50 off registration.
Never afraid to stray from the norm, Goerlich hopes SSW students will think outside the box when it comes to their career path.
“Too often, social workers pigeon-hole themselves into narrow career channels: government worker, nonprofit administrator etc. It’s very important to know what population, issue, or ethical principle you want to prioritize professionally. From there, pretend you’re looking at that core motivator through a kaleidoscope, and don’t be afraid to shake up the component parts and find a new way to live a life that is authentic to your values.”
Those interested in exploring ways to get involved in the WSU School of Social Work should contact Individual Giving Officer Theresa Port at 313-577-4429 or email@example.com.
Author: Laura Hipshire firstname.lastname@example.org