In all states, with the exception of Florida, any mental health care provider can label him/herself as a “sex therapist.” Most individuals doing so possess little to no education in the field of human sexuality (especially with regard to issues impacting sexual functioning). Morals, values, and personal experiences impact and often lead the perception and judgement of these therapists, negatively impacting or harming the client(s).
Ensuring that the therapist has graduate training and licensure at either the masters or doctoral level in Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology, Social Work, or Licensed Professional Counseling is a good initial step in establishing a qualified general practitioner. If you are working on or struggling with a sex problem or dysfunction, confirming the therapist is a certified sex therapist is key. Knowing the practitioner has met the American Association for Sexuality Education, Counseling, and Therapy’s (AASECT) standards for training and supervision in advanced issues of sexuality guarantees a minimum level of competence. Training standards to become an AASECT certified sex therapist are rigorous.
Requirements are as follows to attain certification as a qualified sex therapist:
• Minimum clinical training in one of the above fields at the masters level
• A minimum of 300 clinical hours of treating sex concerns
• A minimum of 50 hours of sex therapy specific supervision
• A minimum of 90 hours of human sexuality education
• A minimum of 60 hours of specialty training in sex therapy
• A minimum of one, 10 hour sexual attitude reassessment seminar to assess and challenge therapist biases and assumptions
Click here to review the topics covered in AASECT Sex Therapy training.
Certified sex therapists possess the highest training standard and are held to a level of rigor general practitioners claiming expertise in sexuality do not. If possible, I always encourage clients to review the education, training, and experience of each therapist being interviewed prior to selecting a provider. Therapy, and especially sex therapy, are about fit. Ensure you invest time with a therapist that honors your preferences and can thoroughly help you and your partner(s) address your sexual concerns.