Dr Meg-John Barker | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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Dr Meg-John Barker

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer in Psychology
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • Psychology
  • meg.john.barker

Professional biography

Meg-John Barker is the author of a number of popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including Queer: A Graphic History (with Julia Scheele), How To Understand Your Gender (with Alex Iantaffi), Enjoy Sex (How, When, and IF You Want To) (with Justin Hancock), Rewriting the Rules, The Psychology of Sex, and The Secrets of Enduring Love (with Jacqui Gabb). They have also written numerous books, articles, chapters, and reports for scholars and counsellors, drawing on their own research and therapeutic practice. In particular they have focused their academic-activist work on the topics of bisexuality, open non-monogamy, sadomasochism, non-binary gender, and Buddhist mindfulness. Barker is currently a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University. They co-founded the journal Psychology & Sexuality and the activist-research organisation BiUK, through which they published The Bisexuality Report. They have advised many organisations, therapeutic bodies, and governmental departments on matters relating to gender, sexual, and relationship diversity (GSRD). They are also involved in facilitating many public events on sexuality and relationships, including Sense about Sex and Critical Sexology. They blog and podcast about all these topics on rewriting-the-rules.com and megjohnandjustin.com. Twitter: @megjohnbarker.


Research interests

I have an established track record of internationally recognised research in the areas of sex, gender and relationships, and in counselling and psychotherapy. I was co-founder of the Taylor and Francis journal Psychology & Sexuality and am on the editorial board of journals including Sexual and Relationship Therapy, Sexualities, and Porn Studies. I have published numerous books, chapters, and academic papers including seminal edited collections on BDSM (Langdridge & Barker, 2007) and non-monogamous relationships (Barker & Langdridge, 2010) as well as an international handbook of the psychology gender and sexuality (Richards & Barker, 2015) and a forthcoming co-authored monograph on sex advice (Barker, Gill & Harvey, 2018). I have also produced several well-regarded texts on counselling and psychotherapy, particularly in my specialist areas of mindfulness, sex therapy, and gender, sexual and relationship diversity (Barker, Vossler & Langdridge, 2010; Barker, 2013; Richards & Barker, 2013; Brotto & Barker, 2014).

I am actively involved in organising international and national conferences (e.g. Sexual Cultures, BiReCon, Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies) and have been an invited keynote speaker at many international conferences of academics and therapists (e.g. the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, the Canadian Psychological Association conference). 

Teaching interests

I chaired the core counselling module at the OU (D240) through production and five years of presentation. This received a faculty award and goes out to over 1000 student every year. I am also on the production team for level 2 and 3 psychology modules: DD210 and DD310. I have supervised undergraduate and masters dissertation students and have two current PhD students as well as four successful completions. I have acted as internal and external examiner for numerous PhD and MPhil students, and I supervise doctoral counselling psychology students at City University in London.

Impact and engagement

The main focus of my work is educating and informing the general public in the areas of sex, gender and relationships, and mental health, mindfulness and therapy. I have written – and am writing – a number of popular books on these topics, following the success of my Rewriting the Rules book, blog and TED talk. I have also appeared on TV and radio speaking on these issues, as well as in numerous newspaper, magazine and online articles. My complete list of media mentions is available at www.rewritingtherules.wordpress.com/reviewsreports.

External collaborations

I was co-founder of the organisation, BiUK, the UK organisation for bisexual research and activism. As part of this I organised the international BiReCon event in 2010 - which was the first ever international academic conference on bisexuality - along with regular national events. I led the writing of The Bisexuality Report (2012) which is the key document informing national policy and practice in this area, and I sit on the Chief Executive LGB&T committee in this capacity. I was listed in the Independent on Sunday Pink List (2013) and Rainbow List (2014) in recognition of my work in this area.

I co-organise the Critical Sexology network: a group bringing together practitioners, academics and activists working on sex and sexuality. I was part of the advisory group for the Wellcome exhibition on sexology. I co-organise Sense about Sex and Bad Sex Media Bingo, which inform media production of sex-related materials. I also write academically about the importance of public engagement and about the potentials of using comics and other creative methods in this area (Baker, de Lappe & Walters, 2015).

I am an accredited psychotherapist. Having previously worked in an NHS sexual and relationship therapy clinic and voluntary LGBT therapy, I now practice privately. I also work in a coaching/supervision capacity with several heads of LGBT organisations and community leaders.

I provide online and offline CPD training to practitioners on matters relating to sexuality, gender and relationships, including Relate and Pink Therapy. I was the programme organiser for the conferences of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists for many years and provide continuing professional development in this area. I was on the BPS working party which produced guidelines for psychotherapists working with sexual and gender minorities and led the LGB&T partnership project producing guidelines on LGBT mental health for practitioners and community members. I’m a Pink Therapy associate and work closely on a number of their projects. I produced the BACP resource on Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diversity (GSRD).

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CCIG: Intimate Lives and Relational FuturesProgrammeFaculty of Social Sciences
CCIG: Psycho-Social ProgrammeProgrammeFaculty of Social Sciences
Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences
Social Psychology Research GroupGroupFaculty of Social Sciences

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