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Mental health professionals with an interest in treating sexual dysfunction through counseling can find work as clinical sexologists. Clinical sexologists hold advanced degrees and can pursue certification through organizations such as the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and many find work in private psychotherapy practices.
Clinical sexologists, or sex therapists, are mental health professionals who provide counseling services to individuals and couples. Their training is rooted in traditional psychological principles and is supplemented with coursework in human sexuality.
Sex therapists provide comprehensive psychotherapy services. Sexologists will complete an intake and evaluation of the individual or couple, and based on the information gleaned in the initial meeting, the sexologist develops a treatment plan with direct input from the client(s). Therapists may recommend reading material or videos to clients or assign communication exercises when counseling couples.
Clinical sexologists can earn a graduate degree in psychology, social work or a related field and then become certified through an organization such as AASECT. Or they can enter a graduate program that is specifically focused on the area of human sexuality. Master's degree candidates take courses in the history of human sexuality, clinical sexology and treating sexual dysfunctions. Students also complete a practicum that gives them field experience in counseling patients.
Clinical sexologists can apply for certification through AASECT. Candidates must be members of the association and read and sign the Code of Ethics. A master's degree with two years of psychotherapy or a doctorate with one year of psychotherapy experience is also required. Applicants for certification should be licensed in the state in which they work and meet AASECT requirements in the areas including human sexuality education, sex therapy training and clinical experience. Recommendations from supervisors and colleagues are also needed as part of the certification process.
Clinical sexologists can go into private practice or provide sex therapy services at an existing psychotherapy practice. AASECT does not state a median salary for sex therapists but notes that income can vary depending on education and experience.