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

By Kristie Overstreet on February 19, 2019

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 therapists, 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 problems in relation to sex or intimacy. Sex therapists 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

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 the 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


Commenter Name
May 20, 2019

Hello Kristie,

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

Heather Spreadborough

Commenter Name
May 20, 2019

Great question Heather! There are many great programs that offer a blend of on-site and online learning experiences. Consider checking out this one therapycertificationtraining dot org

Commenter Name
October 15, 2019

I have a M.S. in management. However, I also have 40 years of therapy for myself. I would love helping people, either with addiction or sex issues. Is there a way I could do this without investing years in school?

Commenter Name
October 20, 2019

Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and
wished to mention that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

Commenter Name
December 20, 2019

Really thanks for sharing such a valuable tips...really appreciate the efforts.

Commenter Name
May 25, 2020

Do I have to a counselor before becoming a Sex Therapist?

Commenter Name
September 20, 2020

Hello Kristie,
I am currently working on my bachelors in biology degree and I am interested in becoming a sex therapist but I am worried that won’t be able to get into a graduate program in psychology since my major is not psych related. I’m currently a junior at university. Looking for some guidance since it’s not a common career. I’ve emailed a couple of other therapist but haven’t received any feedback.

Commenter Name
September 22, 2020

I am a LMHC and would like to become a certified sex therapist. Where are the requirements and where can I find an online Program to obtain my Certification?
Thanks :)

Commenter Name
October 16, 2020

Do you have to have a degree in counseling to become a certified sex therapist?

Commenter Name
April 14, 2021

Your information about sex therapy is really helpful. I didn't realize that sex therapists with certifications specifically in sex therapy will have a more developed clinical style. My husband has been pushing me away when I initiate sex, so I'll see if I can find a mental health counselor with certifications who can help me.

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