A sex therapist is someone who helps patients overcome their fears and issues regarding sexual acts, but becoming a sex therapist might take more time and work than you would otherwise think. Some students assume they can find work right after finishing college, but therapists working in this field have a minimum of a graduate degree, and many therapists have a doctoral degree in psychology or therapy. Once you finish your education, you can get to work meeting the other requirements of the job.
College and More College
Before you can become a sex therapist, you must have a college degree. Most therapists study psychology before going to graduate school, but any type of social science major should prepare you for your advanced studies.
Some students finish a graduate degree in marriage and family counseling, but other students study other forms of counseling in graduate school. You may also find it helpful to complete a doctoral degree. Those with a doctoral degree gain a better understanding of sexual topics and may not need as much hands on experience when applying for a license.
Obtain a State License
Though every state has its own requirements about who can obtain a counseling or therapy license, you must have that license before practicing in the sex therapy field. Most states ask that you have a minimum of a graduate degree and that you have some experience, which can range from 75 hours to more than 150 hours. You'll also need to pass some type of background check. This check looks for any type of criminal activity that discredits your work as a therapist. Something as simple as a DUI conviction in college can prohibit you from working as a therapist.
Complete Therapy Training
Even after finishing college and graduate school, you're still not done with your education. Becoming a sex therapist requires that you go through some extensive training later. You'll need to gain at least 60 hours or practical experience working under the guidance and supervision of a licensed therapist in your area. This gives you the chance to work with patients and practice the skills you learned in the classroom and through your training before you work individually with your own patients. You also have the option of taking classes through a graduate school with an emphasis on sexual therapy in lieu of practical experience.
Get AASECT License
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists is the professional organization responsible for granting licenses to sex therapists. If you want to obtain your license and gain employment, you need to meet the organization's requirements. According to the AASECT, applicants must meet all the requirements outlined above and have a minimum of 300 hours of practical experience working with patients under the supervision of a licensed therapist. Students must also agree to follow its established code of ethics and complete an application by mail that includes their transcripts, proof of any professional organizations they belong to and other documents.
Sexual therapists help patients feel better about themselves and overcome the fears and problems they have in relation to sex and sexual acts. Before becoming a sex therapist, you must obtain a license in your state and a license from the AASECT, which you can only obtain with an advanced degree and hundreds of hours of experience.