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 and sex therapy is one of those specialties. It is a career path to consider if you have an interest in becoming a specialist.

To become a sex therapist, you must first specialize in a field of mental health therapy. Most sex therapists specialize in psychology or establish a career as a mental health counselor, a marriage and family counselor, or 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, 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 communicate well will help you succeed in this career path.

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 and certification in this area. Certification may include continuing education units in sexology and passing a state examination.

Requirements to become a sex therapist 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 the field.

Job Duties of a Sex Therapist

As a sex therapist, you will provide people with counseling and assistance related to sexual problems. This may include intimacy counseling or specific sexual issues.

You may help people that have problems or difficulty in areas like:

  • Libido, or a lack of or too much sexual desire
  • Premature ejaculation or problems like erectile dysfunction
  • Menopausal problems
  • Sexual aversion
  • Painful sex
  • 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. Either of these instances can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, depression and related experiences. Other emotions sex therapists may tackle include self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and emotions surrounding sex and marriage.

  • Sex therapists may also teach exercises that enhance or assist in sexual relationships like 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 classroom/elementary education
  • Sexuality and transgender education
  • Sexuality and faith-based education

Sex therapists may also work in educational or corporate settings. They might provide workshops, courses or seminars on sex education, offer counseling services or develop curriculums for schools and corporations.

Quite often, sex therapists spend time educating the public about their role and concerns the public has about sex therapy and its role in education and society.

Sex Therapy Sessions

Counseling sessions are often short and aimed at resolving specific problems and concerns among clients. A sex therapist may refer a client for more in-depth counseling or they may continue to see clients themselves for issues outside of sex therapy.

Salary and Wages

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2015, sex therapists made a median average salary of $48,600 per year, with the top 10 percent of sex therapists making over $81,960 per year. Hourly, sex therapists may make between $14-$39.

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