To become a sex therapist, you will need to develop good listening skills as well as the ability to be non-judgmental. Sex therapists generally have good counseling skills, as well as the ability to educate clients on various sexual issues, problems and techniques. The educational and licensing requirements to become a sex therapist vary by jurisdiction. In those areas that do require sex therapists to hold a license, many require the completion of an educational program that trains students in mental health issues, counseling, and ethics.
When confronted with sexual issues, both within and outside of relationships, many people seek help from sex therapists. Sex therapists typically have a background in mental health or general health care, along with specialized training in the area of sexuality. In some jurisdictions, a sex therapist must be a medical doctor or licensed in some area of mental health counseling. In other areas, there are few restrictions on providing sex therapy and individuals with minimal or no academic qualifications are at liberty to describe themselves as “sex coaches” or “sexologists.”
Before you become a sex therapist, you may want to volunteer for a charity or organization that provides social services, counseling or other types of interpersonal support. Through this work, you can develop empathy, listening skills and a better understanding of many different types of human struggles. Ask the supervisors in these settings for feedback on your work with clients, as this can help you decide whether you have the skills necessary to become a sex therapist.
If you enter into a formal training program to become a sex therapist, you will typically develop skills and knowledge in several areas. Prepare to study physiology and anatomy as well as psychology theory courses. In addition, your school may require you to complete a practicum by working with clients in a supervised setting. In fact, many jurisdictions require completion of one or more supervised internships or practicums as part of their licensing process for mental health professionals, including sex therapists. Your work may be in a student clinic sponsored by your school or, in some cases, you may be assigned to work in a private clinic or in a community counseling center.
As you continue your training to become a sex therapist, you may have opportunities to participate in continuing education programs and workshops. These programs, often supervised and taught by experienced professionals, can help you further develop your therapeutic and educational skills. In addition, you may have the opportunity to obtain information about new research into sexuality that can help you to better serve your clients.