How to Become a Licensed Sex Therapist

Sex therapy is a subfield of marriage counseling and psychotherapy. The most common route to becoming a sex therapist is become a marriage counselor first, and then specialize in intimacy problems. Besides working with couples, some sex therapists work with individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, or who need help working through guilt and shame.

As a sex therapist, your job is to help patients overcome their intimacy problems so that they can have better marriages, relationships, and self-esteem. In order to become licensed in sex therapy, you must take graduate level courses in human health and behavior, and earn a regular therapist's or counselor's license. This guide explains the process of becoming a licensed sex therapist.

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Education and Licensure Requirements

First, complete a Master's or Ph.D. in a field related to social work, psychology, human behavior, or counseling. If you have an Bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, you can still be admitted to a Master's program. You may need to take supplemental courses to cover the fundamentals of psychology and human health.

In addition to taking courses for your degree program, you should also take classes in human sexuality, anthropology, and human social behavior. This coursework is necessary for two reasons: all successful sexual counselors have a strong academic background in sexuality, and you cannot secure an internship with a sex therapist unless you have some academic knowledge of the field.

After completing your coursework, obtain practical field experience by working with a licensed therapist. These internships are usually arranged through the school where you earn the degree. If you want to specialize in intimacy issues, you should apply for positions within a marriage therapy clinic, or a sexual trauma clinic.

Take your state's exams for the therapist's or counselor's license. There is no specific sex counseling license, so you will either earn a general counseling license, or a marriage and family therapy license.

Attend professional development seminars. Working therapists who specialize in sexuality can make connections with other counselors at these conferences. Also join the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). This is a national organization for people who work in a wide variety of fields related to social work and sex counseling. It is another good way to network and gain access to training programs.

Keep your therapy license current by taking continuing education classes. Your state's licensing agency has specific information license renewal. Visit the website of your state's division of licensing, department of public health, or equivalent agency to learn the exact requirements.

© Had2Know 2010

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