Sex Education, Sex Counseling and Sex Therapy are considered separate disciplines, not levels of expertise within one discipline or field. When considering which certification you are aspiring to pursue, you should consider your existing field of expertise and work.
Are you primarily an educator, perhaps leading workshops, teaching classes, or organizing and facilitating seminars? Are you primarily a counselor, perhaps working in a clinical or medical setting, giving specific suggestions and advice? Are you primarily a therapist, working with people in individual, partners or family sessions on various sex-related issues?
Each of these disciplines requires its own set of skills and knowledge. Use these questions to guide you in your choice of application, or ask a Certified Supervisor, perhaps one that you hope to have as your supervisor, for help with this decision.
AASECT Certified Sexuality Educators teach and train about a range of topics, including but not limited to sexual health; sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology; family planning, contraception, and pregnancy/childbirth; sexually transmitted infections; gender identity and roles; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender issues; sexual function and dysfunction; sexual pleasure; sexual variation; sexuality and disability; sexuality and chronic illness; sexual development across the lifespan; sexual abuse, assault, and coercion; and sexuality across cultures. Sexuality educators may teach in the classroom at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels. They may also provide education for groups of children, adolescents, or adults, training
for professionals, and outreach and education in community-based, healthcare, corporate, and faith-based settings. Sexuality educators also may design and conduct workshops, courses, and seminars; contribute to the sexuality education literature, develop curriculum; plan and administer programs; deliver lectures and provide one-on-one client education sessions.
AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselors represent a variety of professions, ranging from medicine to the clergy. Examples of sexuality counselors are Planned Parenthood counselors, nurses and other health professionals, school counselors, and clinical pastoral care and counseling providers. Counselors assist the client to realistically resolve concerns through the introduction of problem-solving techniques of communication as well as providing accurate information and relevant suggestions of specific exercises and techniques in sexual expression. Sexuality counseling is generally short term and client centered, focusing on the immediate concern or problem.
AASECT Certified Sex Therapists are licensed mental health professionals, trained to assess, diagnose, an provide in-depth psychotherapy, who have specialized in treating clients with sexual issues and concerns. In the absence of available licensure, they are certified, registered, or clinical members of a national psychotherapy organization. Sex therapists work with sexual concerns, including, but not limited to: sexual function and dysfunction; sexual pleasure; sexual variation; sexuality and disability; sexuality and chronic illness; sexual development across the lifespan; sexual abuse, assault, and coercion; and sexuality across cultures, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. In addition, where appropriate, are prepared to provide comprehensive and intensive psychotherapy over an extended period of time in more complex cases.
All Certified persons and those seeking certification must be members of AASECT.
For information about AASECT membership click here
The "Three Buckets" of Experience
Educational Tasks Aspiring certified educators, counselors and therapists must complete:
1. 150 Continuing Education (CE) hours from either an accredited adacemic institution or an AASECT approved provider of CE
units. These units are broken down into 60 Sex Therapy or Sex Education Hours and 90 Core Knowledge Hours (see competency requirements below)
2. Sexual Attitudes Reassessment (SAR) - AASECT requires a minimum of a 10 CE hour SAR experience
The applicant will have participated in a minimum of ten (10) clock hours of structured group
experience consisting of a process-oriented exploration of the applicant's own feelings, attitudes,
values, and beliefs regarding human sexuality and sexual behavior [e.g., a Sexuality Attitude
Reassessment (SAR)]. Such training may not be personal psychotherapy or an academic
experience in which the primary emphasis is on cognitive information. It is strongly
recommended that this experience occur early in the applicant's training to be most beneficial.
The applicant must have been an attendee in the SAR and not been functioning as a facilitator or
co-facilitator in any capacity. The SAR must be completed in-person. The SAR must be AASECT
sponsored or approved. Each SAR leader must document the name of the SAR participant's
AASECT Certified Supervisor if the SAR participant has one at the time of attendance at the SAR
workshop. The applicant will submit, in English, a one-page comprehensive statement of his/her
professional philosophy and goals of sex therapy, including how the SAR affected that
3. Supervision (50 hours for CST and 30 for CSC and CSE over a minimum of 18 months and 12 months respectively)
Experiential requirements :
Sex Therapy: (300) hours of AASECT supervised clinical treatment of patients/clients who present with sexual concerns. Clinical experience will include, but is not be limited to, the diagnosis and treatment of psychosexual dysfunctions (diagnoses included in the ‘Psychosexual Disorders’ of the current edition of the DSM). It is expected that the applicant will function as the sole or primary therapist with patients/clients. This clinical experience will have exposed the applicant to a variety of the listed psychosexual disorders and will have included therapy with patients/clients of both genders and with couples. This supervised experience must be started only after the applicant is enrolled in graduate school. https://www.aasect.org/aasect-requirements-sex-therapist-certification
Sex Counselor: Supervised sexuality counseling experience is the crux of certification. It is the counseling milieu where competence is demonstrated. The applicant shall have completed a minimum of providing one hundred (100) hours of supervised sexuality counseling. Sexuality Counseling shall have been conducted in one or more various settings such as the following: medical offices and clinics, human service agencies, community and public health clinics, family planning centers, rape crisis centers, college and universities, schools, professional schools and religious institutions. This experience will have included observation, demonstrations of counseling techniques, role-playing and the development of communication skills. The applicant will have been exposed to a variety of human sexuality issues. This supervised experience may have been obtained prior to or following the receipt of the terminal degree. https://www.aasect.org/sexuality-counselor-requirements
Sex Educator: Supervised sexuality education experience is the crux of AASECT Certification. It is in the educational milieu in which competency is demonstrated. The applicant shall have completed a minimum of providing one hundred (100) hours of supervised sexuality education. Sexuality education shall have been conducted in one or more settings such as the following: college and universities, public schools, professional schools and religious institutions, on-line formats, human service agencies, or community and public health clinics. https://www.aasect.org/certification/aasect-requirements-sexuality-educator-certification
(90 CE Units)
All candidates must have knowledge of the following as they relate to sexual health and pleasure:
A. Ethics and ethical behavior.
B. Developmental sexuality from a bio-psycho-social perspective across the life course.
C. Socio-cultural, familial factors (e.g., ethnicity, culture, religion, spirituality, socioeconomic status, family values), in relation to sexual values and behaviors.
D. Issues related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity: heterosexuality; issues and themes impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual people; gender identity and expression.
E. Intimacy skills (e.g., social, emotional, sexual), intimate relationships, interpersonal relationships and family dynamics.
F. Diversities in sexual expression and lifestyles, including, but not limited to polyamory, swinging, BDSM and tantra.
G. Sexual and reproductive anatomy/physiology.*
H. Health/medical factors that may influence sexuality, including, but not limited to, illness, disability, drugs, mental health, conception, pregnancy, childbirth & pregnancy termination, contraception, fertility, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infection, other infections, sexual trauma, injury and safer sex practices.*
I. Range of sexual functioning and behavior, from optimal to problematic, including, but not limited to, common issues such as: desire discrepancy, lack of desire, difficulty achieving or maintaining arousal, sexual pain, penetration problems and difficulty with orgasm.
J. Sexual exploitation, including sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault.
K. Cyber sexuality and social media.*
L. Substance use/abuse and sexuality.*
M. Pleasure enhancement skills.
N. Learning theory and its application.
P. History of the discipline of sex research, theory, education, counseling and therapy.
Q. Principles of sexuality research and research methods.
*Please note: Sections G,H,K,L are time sensitive and should have reasonable up to date information and training.
(60 CE Units)
All candidates must have experience in applying the following to carrying out (or doing) Sex Therapy
A. Theory and methods of sex-related psychotherapy, including several different models.
B. Techniques of sex-related assessment and diagnosis of the ‘Psychosexual Disorders’ described in the current edition of the DSM.
C. Theory and methods of approach to intervention in relationship systems experiencing sex and intimacy problems. Therapists with no documented graduate or post graduate training in couples counseling must acquire 16 hours of couples counseling training as part of the 60 hours of Sex Therapy Training (Section VI). Couples therapy is psychotherapy which focuses on the couple and views the couple as the client. Clinical skills such as: attending to the interaction with each partner, knowing the power dynamic/ struggle that may occur, teaching effective, authentic communication, understanding and bringing awareness to deeper, hidden unmet needs and childhood wounds, psycho education of couples skill such as active listening, validation, empathy, asking for what they want and need, and negotiating differences are imperative. Suggested options to gain couples therapy skills and training are: Imago Relational Therapy, Gottman, Schnarch, Bader & Pearson, and Emotional Focused Therapy as possible examples.** This training may be done online.
D. Theory and method of approach to medical intervention in the evaluation and treatment of psychosexual disorders.**
E. Principles of consultation, collaboration, and referral.
F. Ethical decision-making and best practice.
** Please note: Sections C & D are time sensitive and should have reasonable up to date information and training.
Note: The difference between the requirements V and VI is that the education requirements in V are directed at general knowledge about human sexuality, while the training requirements in VI are directed at specific skills in sex therapy. The two categories of requirements are sufficiently different; therefore, documentation is necessary in each.
(60 CE Units)
All candidates must have experience in applying the following to provision of sexuality education
A. Sexuality education training will include, but is not limited to: theory and methods of general education (including curriculum development, delivery and evaluation).
B. Theory and methods of sexuality education (including curriculum development, delivery and evaluation).
C. Ethical issues in sexuality education.
D. Theory and methods of approaches to sexuality education with specific populations (e.g., youth, older adults, couples, ethnic/ cultural/ faith-based populations, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities).**
E. Theory and methods of different approaches to sexuality education delivery (e.g., small group work, one-on-one education, large group lectures or interaction, online delivery or use of other electronic means)
**Please note: Section D is time sensitive and should have reasonable up to date information and training.
Note: The difference between the requirements in V and VI is that the education requirements in V are directed at general knowledge about human sexuality, while the training requirements in VI are directed at specific skills in sexuality education. The two categories of requirements are sufficiently different; therefore, documentation is necessary in each.
(60 CE Units)
All candidates must have experience in applying the following to carrying out (or doing) Sex Counseling
A. Theory and methods of personal/individual counseling.
B. Theory and methods of sexuality counseling approaches to specific populations (e.g., youth, older adult, couples, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, ethnic/ cultural/ faith-based populations).**
C. Theory and methods of different approaches to intervention in relationship systems.
D. Theory and methods of decision-making concerning sexually related medical interventions.**
E. Ethical issues in sexuality counseling.
F. Theory and practice of consultation, collaboration, and referral.
**Please note: Sections B and D are time sensitive and should have reasonable up to date information and training.
Note: The difference between the requirements in V and VI is that the education requirements in V are directed at general knowledge about human sexuality, while the training requirements in VI are directed at specific skills in sexuality counseling. The two categories of requirements are sufficiently different; therefore, documentation is necessary in each.