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How to Become a Sex Therapist - A Comprehensive Guide

AASECT certification

Do You Need A Sex Therapist Certification/Degree?

The average cost for a sexology or sex therapy certification is around $12,000.00 with the exception of American Board of Sexology.  

Organizations and individuals are making a lot of money for something that is not required in order to practice sex therapy.

You can practice sex therapy without a certification.  You do need a license in a mental health field, but you do not need a sex therapy certification.  

What you need is to show is competency in the area in which you claim to have expertise.  If you say you specialize in sex therapy, you should be able to show how you became competent in that area.  

AASECT Certification Costs Vs Others

How much does it cost to become a sex therapist?

Reasons To Be A Certified Sex Therapist

Obtaining a license is essential for providing therapy, and specialized knowledge is crucial for practicing sex therapy effectively.

Mastering couples therapy techniques and understanding the sexual dynamics of both couples and individuals are key. It’s important to be equipped to address issues such as trauma, anxiety, loss of desire, disconnection, conflict, and communication challenges.

A wealth of resources, including sexology courses, books, and YouTube videos, are available to equip you with the necessary skills to become an accomplished sex therapist.

For those looking for a more accessible entry point, obtaining a sexologist certificate from ABS for $169.00 offers a less rigorous alternative. While similar to a sex therapist, becoming a certified sexologist requires a foundational understanding of sexuality and sex therapy practices.

why become a sex therapist

Pathways to a Career in Sex Therapy




Holding a license is imperative for offering therapy services, and specialized knowledge in sex therapy is crucial. Opting for certification in sex therapy through ABS, which is affordable at $169 and features less stringent criteria, is advisable for those wanting to affirm their qualification.

It’s essential to become proficient in couples therapy and understand the sexual dynamics among both couples and individuals. Competence in addressing issues like trauma, anxiety, diminished desire, disconnection, conflict, and communication barriers is also necessary.

A plethora of educational courses are available to equip you with the skills needed to excel as a sex therapist. Beginning with specific recommended readings is a good starting point.

Exploring Education in Sex Therapy

AASECT offers a directory of sex therapy education providers, with course fees averaging around $30 per instruction hour, which can accumulate to a significant expense.

For those mindful of their budget, beginning with literature is advisable. I can recommend a selection of my top sex therapy books for starting your journey. Additionally, YouTube hosts a variety of videos covering topics such as trauma, betrayal trauma, nonviolent communication, imago therapy, emotionally focused couples therapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavior therapy, which can serve as valuable learning resources.

AASECT certification

Sexologist Vs. Sex Therapist

two cacti

Both sexologists and sex therapists typically hold a master’s or doctoral degree. While a sexologist may possess a terminal degree in any discipline but specialize in sexuality, therapists are required to have their degrees specifically in therapy, counseling, or social work. Transitioning from a sex therapist to a sexologist is relatively straightforward; however, a sexologist looking to become a sex therapist would need to pursue additional education in therapy.

How I Became A Sex Therapist

I stumbled into becoming a sex therapist somewhat by accident, during a period of uncertainty about my dissertation topic. My interest was piqued by a conversation with a friend who was unusually happy about not using a condom during a hookup, which contradicted the usual narrative around sexual safety. This sparked my curiosity about the deeper meanings attributed to sexual behaviors, leading me to explore sexuality’s meaning-making aspects in my dissertation.

Following my dissertation, I was offered a position at Lewis and Clark College to teach a sex therapy class, replacing a previous instructor who wanted to step down. Despite having no prior clients with sexual issues, I decided to refocus my practice exclusively on sex therapy. To my surprise, my business thrived, benefiting from the niche demand for sex therapy.

However, I faced challenges due to the lack of practical sex therapy training in my education. This gap forced me to engage in self-directed learning, delving into sex therapy literature to supplement my knowledge. Despite this, I encountered complex issues not addressed in the literature, particularly related to emotional and relational dynamics. This led me to develop my own model of sex therapy, reflecting my journey of discovery and adaptation in this field.

I share this journey and the model I developed not only as a reflection of my professional growth but also as a contribution to the broader field of sex therapy and education, hoping to offer insights and guidance to others navigating similar paths.

Become A Sex Therapist

Improve your therapy practice with our online course designed for therapists entering the field of sex therapy. This detailed program provides 24 hours of video content, case studies, and selected readings to broaden your understanding of sex therapy. With 12 AASECT CEUs, it allows for self-paced study and offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. 


Absolutely not.  However, there are different requirements for other professionals in the sexuality field.  

In order to qualify as a sex therapist, you are required to be a licensed MFT, LPC, or Social Work and show that you are competent to provide sex therapy services.  Competency is typically determined by experience and education.  

Yes and No.  To practice as a “therapist,” you need to be licensed.  But if you want to counsel or coach people around their sexual relationships, you can become a sex coach or a sexologist.