It turns out that lots of people claim to do sex therapy, but it takes research to find a certified sex therapist. In fact, I think that only the state of Florida regulates who can use that title! Here in Washington, the title of therapist is now defined and controlled, but once you are a therapist, there is nothing to stop you from labeling yourself as a sex therapist. This leaves people who are seeking help for sexual issues to figure out who is qualified to help.
Look for an AASECT certified sex therapist.
There is one primary certifying organization in the world that certifies sex therapists. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) has developed increasingly more rigorous standards for ethics, academics and applied skills, and it has exhaustive requirements for training and experience before a professional can be certified as a sexuality professional. If you want to be confident that a therapist is prepared to help with a sexual issue, make sure that he or she is AASECT certified or working under supervision toward certification.
AASECT certification requires exhaustive training.
To be a certified sex therapist, training must include at least 160 hours of training in human sexuality, sexual health, sex therapy and sexual attitudes. In addition to the training and study requirements, certified sex therapists have had direct supervision by an AASECT certified supervisor and at least 250 hours of direct work with clients struggling with sexual concerns.
Topics that must be studied include:
- Sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology
- Developmental sexuality
- Dynamics of interpersonal relationships
- Gender-related issues
- Socio-cultural factors in sexual values and behavior
- Medical factors that may influence
- Knowledge of sexually transmitted infections and safer sex practices
- Sex research/literature
- Sexual abuse
- Varieties of sexual orientation and gender identities
- Atypical sexual behavior, hyper-sexuality and sexual dysfunction
- Substance abuse and sexuality
- Theory and methods of sex-related psychotherapy
- Techniques of sex-related assessment and diagnosis
- Theory and methods of approach to intervention in relationship systems experiencing sex and intimacy problems
- Theory and methods of approach to medical intervention in the evaluation and treatment of psychosexual disorders
- Principles of consultation, collaboration and referral
- Techniques for evaluating clinical outcomes
If you are considering sex therapy and seeking a qualified professional, make sure you ask the questions about training, experience and certification. Feel free to examine my training and credentials.
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