Sex Therapy 101: An Overview for Clinicians

By Kristie Overstreet on July 16, 2018

Are you thinking about developing your clinical skills and specializing in sex therapy? Whether you are working with individuals, couples, or groups, it is likely the topic of sex will surface. Many clinicians have minimal if any clinical training in human sexuality. The one human sexuality class that you may be required to take as part of your program doesn’t adequately cover how beneficial sex therapy is for many clients. But first, what is sex therapy?

As a clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, and certified sex therapist, I encourage you to consider expanding your knowledge in the area of sex therapy. After years of clinical work, my decision to specialize in sex therapy was a perfect fit for me. I couldn’t be happier as a clinical sexologist and certified sex therapist. Here are my thoughts on everything you need to know about your interest in the field of human sexuality.

What is Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy where concerns about sexual function, feelings, health, and intimacy are discussed with a trained clinician. Individual and couples sex therapy can help navigate difficult conversations about intimacy.

A sex therapist may be a counselor, social worker, psychologist, or doctor that has received special clinical training. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this area be sure to review the process of a sex therapy certification. Different programs offer training for clinical sexologist, certified sex therapist, and sex educators. Be sure to research all of your options of study before you decide on the right path for you.

What types of issues are discussed in sex therapy?

Many different concerns lead individuals and couples to sex therapy. Here are a few examples:

  • Concerns with sexual desire, libido, and arousal
  • Concerns with sexual dysfunction
  • Difficulty or inability reaching orgasm
  • Difficulty communicating about sex matters
  • Sexual abuse or trauma
  • Sexual health questions
  • Differences in sexual desires between partners
  • Sexual and gender identity exploration
  • Sexual pain disorders
  • Sexual self-esteem
  • Infertility

What does it take to be a good sex therapist?

Many qualities make a good sex therapist which include:

  • Be a lifetime learner and open to more education
  • Be a good listener
  • Be open minded
  • Be assertive with boundaries
  • Be willing to seek supervision
  • Be able to see many different perspectives

How to Become a Sex Therapist

Learning how to become a sex therapist

There are a few training programs throughout the United States that provide specialized training and certification for students that want to learn how to become a sex therapist. These programs are available in-person, online, and a combination of both. One of the most beneficial aspects of this specialized training is the clinical supervision that is required. Support and guidance is provided by a trained sex therapist that has extensive experience in the field.

It is essential to thoroughly research programs that offer sex therapy training if you want to learn how to become a sex therapist. If you are a clinician in the state of Florida be aware that it is the only state that requires certification if you practice sex therapy. This means that any provider can use the label ‘sex therapist’ except in the state of Florida where you have to become a Certified Sex Therapist.

Your decision to specialize in sex therapy is one that will significantly benefit your clients. For some people, deciding to start counseling can be a difficult one, especially if the issues they are facing involve sex and intimacy. Your ability to be open-minded, affirming, and supportive as a clinician is an excellent start in your journey as a sex therapist.


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 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
October 8, 2018

Thank you for explaining that sexual and gender identity exploration is discussed in sex therapy. I have a friend who is really confused right now and is trying to understand who he is. I think that this could be a big help in his journey to understand who he is.

Commenter Name
October 8, 2018

You are welcome. I hope he does find it helpful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Commenter Name
May 20, 2019

I appreciate what you said about sex therapy and how it can be administered by counselors and social workers. When it comes to overcoming sexual challenges, it may be a good treatment to consider. If I ever struggled with such an issue, I would make sure to find a counselor that has experience with sex therapy in the past.

Commenter Name
October 23, 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
January 14, 2020

I never thought about sex therapy and how it was the type of psychotherapy that involves sexual function, health, and feelings. My husband and I are looking for a therapist that can help with our sexual relations. We will keep these tips in mind as we search for a professional we are comfortable and confident with.

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