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How to Become a Sex Therapist

Discovering Key Steps to Specializing in Sex Therapy


Man Sits With Therapist
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Many specialties exist within the world of health therapy, including sex therapy. If you have an interest in specializing in a field of health therapy, you might be well suited to sex therapy.

To become a sex therapist you must first specialize in a field of mental health therapy. Most sex therapists first specialize in psychology, establish a career as a mental health counselor, marriage and family counselor or establish a career as a clinical social worker.

Characteristics of a Sex Therapist

Sex therapists are compassionate, organized and capable of building trusting relationships with clients. To build trusting relationships with clients a sex therapist must be able to listen to clients that have serious and often embarrassing problems, and offer empathy and compassion to clients. Many sex therapists also work with the public, providing education and training to groups that are diverse. An ability to work with the public and communicate well will help you succeed as a sex therapist and educator.

Certification and Licensing in Sex Counseling

A Master or Doctoral degree is necessary to become a mental health therapist. You will need to verify the licensing requirements in the state you plan to practice in. Once you establish a base career in one of these fields, you may decide to get additional training in sexual counseling. Some educational institutions offer training in this area and certification as a sex counselor. Certification may include continuing education unites in sexology and passing a state examination.

Requirements may vary by state. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) provides additional information, support and resources for sex therapists and counselors. Sociologists, therapists and counselors can all specialize in sex therapy. The AASECT credentials sexual health professionals using rigorous standards and field training. A credential and certification may result in a higher salary and legitimacy in your field of profession.

Job Duties

As a sex therapist, you may provide people with counseling and assistance related to sexual problems. This may include intimacy counseling and assisting with sexual problems between men and women. You may help people that have problems or difficulty in areas including libido, lack of or too much sexual desire, premature ejaculation or ejaculation problems, erectile dysfunction, menopausal problems, sexual aversion, lack of desire, painful sex and clients that have problems with orgasm.

Sex therapists also work with individuals that have had traumatic sexual encounters, or clients that have emotions related to sex including shame, guilt, depression and related experiences. Other emotions sex therapists may tackle include self-esteem, relationship difficulties and emotions surrounding sex and marriages.

Sex therapists may also teach exercises that may enhance or assist in sexual relationships include Kegel exercises. As a sex therapist you may participate in group therapy or a support group for men, women or couples. Other important topics that sex therapists may cover include:

  • Sexuality and disability
  • Sexuality
  • Sexuality and chronic illness
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexuality across cultures
  • Sexuality and reproductive anatomy
  • Sexuality and the classroom/elementary education
  • Sexuality and transgender education
  • Sexuality and faith-based education

Sexual therapists may also work in educational settings or corporate settings, providing workshops, courses or seminars on sex education, therapy or developing curriculums for schools and corporations. Often counseling sessions are short and aimed at resolving specific problems and concerns among clients and the personnel that health therapists are addressing. A sex therapist may refer a client for more in-depth counseling, or may continue to see clients for more in-depth counseling related to issues outside of sex therapy.

Often sex therapists spend time educating the public about their role, and concerns the public has about sex therapy and the role that sex therapists have in education and society.

Salary and Wages

The BLS reports that sex therapists make a median average salary of $49,270 per year, with the top 10 percent of sex therapists making over &75,000 per year. Hourly sex therapists may make $12-$36 per hour.

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