Five things to know if you want to become a sex therapist

By Kristie Overstreet on February 19, 2019

Couples Counseling, Sex Therapy, Marriage and Family Therapist, MFT

You enjoy individual and couples counseling, but you notice that intimacy continues to present as a problem in most of your sessions. If you are open to learning new clinical skills to help these clients consider becoming a certified sex therapist. Marriage and family therapist, social workers, and licensed counselors have the option of studying sex counseling.

Sex therapy is a great field to study if you are interested in helping individuals and couples explore intimacy in their lives. Through a sex therapy certification program and supervision, you will be able to help individuals on a deeper level. Here are five things you need to know if you want to become a sex therapist.

1. What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy that addresses a client’s psychological, emotional, and physical problem in relation to sex or intimacy. Sex therapist address issues around sex and intimacy versus avoiding them in the clinical setting.

There isn’t anything deviant or inappropriate in regards to sex therapy. There is no physical contact with clients. Think of sex therapy as you would any other clinical strategy to address a client’s issue. For example, sex therapy exercises are used to help a couple who is struggling with sexual dysfunction.

2. Your clinical background will help you

You are already a trained clinician, so you bring many benefits to your clients. Training to become a certified sex therapist can help you be a better clinician. You may find that your current clinical style evolves as you learn new sex therapy exercises and approaches.

As a licensed mental health therapist, licensed marriage and family therapist, or licensed social worker you already know the ethics involved in working with individuals. Your understanding and ability to provide the best clinical care will be enhanced as you train to be a sex therapist.

3. Sex therapy certification

Certified sex therapist at work

To be the best clinician possible and to ensure you follow ethical guidelines, obtain certification in sex therapy. Many clinicians list online that they practice sex therapy, but have no training or certification.

Sex therapy certification will ensure you receive proper training, supervision, and that you are working within your scope of practice. There are many programs in-person and online that offer certification.

Florida is currently the only state that requires clinicians to be certified if they state they practice sex therapy. Obtaining certification can ensure that you are providing the best care and may protect you if a legal problem arises with your client.

4. Working with Clients as a Certified Sex Therapist

Both individuals and couples seek sex counseling. Often individuals will reach out for a session before bringing in their partner. Other times the couple will seek help together. You will use your clinical skills in helping the individual and couples determine the best approach.

You may provide services outside of the typical office setting. Many trained clinicians offer online sex therapy whether through video or phone. If you have interested in alternative settings, make sure that you are practicing within your legal guidelines between states.

5. How to Become a Sex Therapist

The final thing you need to know is how to become a sex therapist. Find a program of study that works with your schedule. Since there are in-person and online programs, compare their schedules to ensure that it will work for you. The typical sex therapy training program is 12-18 months. Be sure to look at reviews of the program and speak to other clinicians who have completed the training. You will receive feedback from past students that will help you make the right decision on which program to choose.

Entering this program of study is a commitment to both course work and supervision. The supervision process is similar to what you experienced when obtaining your licensure. Your supervisor is someone who is a trained sex therapist who will work through case presentations, vignettes, and challenge you to grow.

Your interest in becoming a sex therapist shows that you want to grow and challenge yourself as a clinician. There are many individuals and couples that you will be able to help with your study as a sex therapist. Be sure to network or connect with others in the field so you can have support through the process. You will make a great sex therapist if you continue to keep the need of the individual first and meeting them where they are in their growth.

 

Dr. Kristie Overstreet is a clinical sexologist, certified sex therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor, author, speaker, and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology, Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a Certified Sex Therapist and Certified Addiction Professional. She has over 12 years of clinical experience specializing in sex therapy, transgender healthcare, relationships, and helping counselors build their private practice. She is president of Therapy Department, a private practice that provides counseling, training, speaking, and consulting services across the United States.  For more information about Dr. Kristie’s work visit www.KristieOverstreet.com.


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2 Responses to “Five things to know if you want to become a sex therapist”

  1. Heather Spreadborough L.M.H.C.

    Hello Kristie,

    I am looking for an online program to get my Certification. Do you have any suggestions for this.

    Heather Spreadborough

    Reply
  2. Kristie Overstreet

    Great question Heather! There are many great programs that offer a blend of on-site and online learning experiences. Consider checking out this one https://www.therapycertificationtraining.org/certification/sex-therapy-training

    Reply

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