Membership FAQs

1. How do I join AASECT?
You may become a member with AASECT throughout the year.

When you join after October 1, your membership is valid until the end of following year.

Membership expires December 31 of each year.

The annual membership fee is due January 1 each year in order to maintain an active membership status; members are required to renew January 1 of each year.

Members not renewing by April 1 will be considered inactive. All membership benefits shall be revoked.

2. Does AASECT prorate membership dues during the membership year?
There will be no prorating of membership dues.

3. How can I update my personal information?
To update your contact information, login to your membership profile.

4. What is the mission of AASECT?
Founded in 1967, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexual therapy, counseling, and education.  The Association’s mission is to provide professional education and certification of sexuality educators, counselors, and therapists, as well as individuals who supervise sex therapists in training.  AASECT also encourages research related to sexuality education, counseling, and therapy, and supports the publication and dissemination of professional materials related to these fields. To achieve its mission, AASECT offers a broad range of professional education, training activities, as well as advocacy.

5. Who can join AASECT?
Anyone who agrees and supports AASECTs mission can join.  One does not have to have any degree, or even be in the field of sexuality or mental health in order to join the organization.  We welcome everyone.

6. What are the benefits of being an AASECT member?
Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting your career, the resources and services provided through your AASECT membership will:

Expand your knowledge and enhance your skills
Grow your network of colleagues and friends
Demonstrate your commitment to the field of human sexuality
Provide numerous opportunities to volunteer and participate in a vibrant organization
Help you save on educational events and other opportunities
Enable you to improve your skills so you can better serve your clients
Students and retirees can receive discounted memberships

Certification FAQs

On Being an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator

7. How do I become Certified as a Sexuality Educator?
To become certified as a Sexuality Educator, you will need to meet the following requirements:

•Bachelor’s Degree + 4 years education experience (1000 hours/year)
•Master’s Degree + 3 years education experience (1000 hours/year)
•Doctoral Degree + 2 years education experience (1000 hours/year)
•2 years minimum must include sexuality education experience (100 student-teacher contact hours)
•90 clock hours of education in Human Sexuality Core Knowledge content areas
•10 hours minimum of Sexuality Attitude Reassessment (SAR, or similar experience)
•25 hours consultation over at least 12 months with AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator Consultant
•Agree to adhere to AASECT Code of Ethics
•Written statement of sex education philosophy

8. Where do I get training for Certification as a Sexuality Educator?
There are two basic approaches you can take to become certified as a Sexuality Educator.

First, you can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in a related field and go on to obtain further education in human sexuality and work experience in sexuality education. For example, an individual who earns a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology goes on to work as a Sexuality Educator in a community-based organization for 4 years. As part of this work, the person receives further professional training in sexuality education from the place of employment, enrolls in several graduate human sexuality-related courses at a local college, joins AASECT and attends a Summer Institute, Annual Conferences (including a SAR), and locally approved workshops to obtain continuing education, and works with an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator in his or her area to meet the consultation requirement. In this ‘piecemeal’ approach, the individual is able to acquire the education and experience necessary to meet the certification requirements.

The other option is to attend one of the few graduate programs in the United States that offers a degree specifically focused on Human Sexuality.

Students can get started early in their teaching experience by becoming involved with campus peer education groups or by working as a teaching assistant. Others choose to volunteer at local organizations such as Planned Parenthood or HIV/AIDS related service providers.

9. How do I find Certified Sexuality Educators who live near me that I can talk with about AASECT?
This link will allow you to click on your state to find Certified Sexuality Professionals that live in your area.

10. What kinds of jobs do Certified Sexuality Educators get?
AASECT Certified Sexuality Educators work in a variety of settings including, but not limited to, public and community health organizations, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, religious organizations, public and private secondary schools, and in private consultation practices. Sexuality Educators often do professional development training as well as direct education and work with many different populations, such as adolescents, parents, families, persons with mental and physical disabilities, clergy, teachers, counselors and therapists, businesses, and college students.

On Being an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist

11. On a typical day as a Certified Sex Therapist, what do you do?
This varies depending on the setting and the type of practice. In general a Certified Sex Therapist might see 5-9 appointments of 50 minutes length each per day. Usually there is a mixture of individuals and couples. Although every client is different and every Sex Therapist has her/his own style, a typical Certified Sex Therapist first will conduct a thorough assessment of a client or couple and develop a treatment plan. A patient or client sees a Certified Sex Therapist on referral from another clinician, referral from an insurance company, or via the Certified Sex Therapist’s advertised services. The focus of therapy with the Certified Sex Therapist is almost always on a sexuality issue initially. However, the Therapist will be able to determine how much to focus on sexuality issues and when to focus on non-sexual issues. Sometimes a great deal of other work may need to be done, like treating depression or stabilizing the relationship, before the sexual concerns can be addressed.

12. What training or education is required to become a Certified Sex Therapist?
To become a Certified Sex Therapist, one must have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in a field leading to independent licensing or certification in a mental health profession that includes psychotherapy training. Among these degrees are nursing, social work, divinity, professional counseling, family and marriage therapy, psychiatry, and psychology. Many Certified Sex Therapists also choose to complete Doctoral Degrees in these or other fields as preparation for this profession.

Additionally, one must complete a number of qualifications for Certification by AASECT. In general, one needs a combination of (1) specialty education (a minimum of 90 hours) in core subject areas of Human Sexuality; (2) specialty training (a minimum of 60 hours) in Sex Therapy; (3) attendance in a Sexual Attitude Reassessment seminar (minimum 10 hours); (4) documentation of field experience and approved supervision (a minimum of 50 hours) in Sex Therapy; and (5) AASECT membership and adherence to the standards of AASECT Code of Ethics.

13. What courses should I take in college or graduate school to prepare for a career as an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist?
You should focus on courses that give you a broad basis in the humanities, in biological sciences, and in psychology and sociology. Obviously, if your school offers any courses about Human Sexuality or related topics (gender, relationships, etc.), take as many courses as you can.

In addition, you should learn as much as you can about your own self and your capacity to set aside your own judgments when responding to the needs of others. A Certified Sex Therapist is first and foremost a good psychotherapist, so you want to also take as many courses as possible which will help you become a psychotherapist.

14. Where do I get education and training in order to become a Certified Sex Therapist?
Some graduate education programs have correlated their programs of study with the AASECT standards and provide some of the training and experience necessary for certification.

Many potential Certified Sex Therapists obtain their specialty training through attendance at AASECT Conferences, AASECT Institutes, and other AASECT sponsored workshops offered in various locations.

15. Tell me more about supervision for Sex Therapy Certification.
Once you have attained some of the required academic and clinical practice criteria, you will need to obtain hours of supervised clinical practice offered by an AASECT Certified Supervisor of Sex Therapy. You will need a minimum of 50 hours of supervision, unless you have been a practicing clinician for at least 15 years. In that case, you will need only a minimum of 25 hours of supervision. You must have a signed contract, approved by AASECT, with a certified AASECT Supervisor of SexTherapy prior to counting the 50 hours.

16. How do I find an AASECT Certified Supervisor in my area?
Not all AASECT Certified Supervisors of Sex Therapy are listed on the website; however, as an AASECT member, you will have access to our Member Directory which does in fact list everyone. You will also have access to our Members Only Community Forum/Listserv  where you could ask for suggestions and help with locating a Supervisor. You may also do supervision via the telephone, internet, video, audio, or any other creative idea you can come up with.

17.  What do I need to know about submitting my application for AASECT Certification?
Please make all of your information as clear as possible for the Certification Committee Reviewers. This will facilitate the process of evaluating your candidacy, and you will get the results faster. Copies of all supporting documents will need to be attached to the application. We suggest that you include all syllabi related to your school coursework in Human Sexuality in your documentation (if you had any). If you wish for the Committee to review syllabi that included course material in Human Sexuality, when the course itself was of a broader category, you should highlight such related classes for the Committee’s oversight.

You will need to send the application and all supporting documents to the AASECT Headquarters Office, along with the application fee. The application needs to be legible, and completing and printing it directly from a computer is strongly preferred. When the AASECT Staff has received everything from you, the application will be referred to a Peer Committee for review and endorsement.

When you join AASECT you will have access to the resources of other members who may be available to mentor or advise you in your quest for Certification. You can check for a local contact person by clicking on your state on the site map.

18.  What about Sex Therapist Certification under ‘special circumstances’?
If you are a highly experienced therapist, you may qualify to apply for AASECT Certification under ‘special circumstances.’ If you have been practicing sex therapy for 15 or more years, and you are recognized by your peers locally, regionally, and/or nationally as a highly competent Sex Therapist, you may be eligible for this expedited certification process: Sex Therapist Certification Under Special Circumstances Requirements.

19. How often and what do I need to know about renewing my AASECT Certification?
Certification by AASECT is an honor and a privilege. You will be required to renew your AASECT Certification every 3 years after you were first certified. In order to renew, you will have to show continuous membership with AASECT and a minimum of 20 Continuing Education Credits every renewal period of 3 years. The credential of AASECT Certified Sex Therapist is respected by the public and helps to ensure the highest quality of practice in the field of Sex Therapy.

20. What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful as an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist?
An AASECT Certified Sex Therapist needs to feel comfortable with one’s own sexuality and have enough experience in the field of mental health to be able to respond to a wide variety of sexual and non-sexual mental health issues. It is important to keep an open mind and avoid judgments. The AASECT Certified Sex Therapist should be up-to-date on the current treatment modalities and research related to Sex Therapy and seek help and supervision when needed. If the Sex Therapist has had traumatic experiences in the past, these should be dealt with before attempting to help others with similar problems. A Certified Sex Therapist has a good understanding of their own values and is able to understand and respect the values of their clients, even when the values are not the same; moreover, he/she also follows the ethics of their profession.

21. What part of being a certified sex therapist is the most satisfying?
The most satisfying experience is when a person really wants to change something that is happening, like being non-orgasmic, and the person is eager for guidance and takes responsibility to follow through with the suggestions given.

22. What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible about becoming a certified sex therapist?
Any entry-level job that gives you opportunities to treat a wide variety of mental and physical health problems would be ideal for learning.  While you are still in school it is also very valuable to get experience working in student health centers, family planning organizations, support organizations for sexual assault, rape, HIV-AIDS, other STD-type clinics, and crisis support centers.

23. What opportunities for advancement are there as a certified sex therapist?
Opportunities for advancement depend on the setting where you work and the kind of background you bring to the situation.  Some Certified Sex Therapists have had opportunities to start a sexual health clinic at a major teaching university and to teach medical, nursing, and other students.  Other Certified Sex Therapists have opened their own clinics, written famous books, and become spokespersons for new products.  Some Certified Sex Therapists write articles for professional journals, for popular magazines, and for newspaper columns.  One of the most direct opportunities for advancement might be in an academic setting, with research and writing as the measurable criteria.  For the entrepreneur, private practice has many benefits.

24. What is the difference between a Certified Sex Therapist and a Diplomate of Sex Therapy?
In 2001, AASECT decided to accept professionals’ requests to lower the strenuous requirements for certification as Sex Therapists.  The new requirements ask for a minimum of 50 hours of supervision instead of 100 hours.  The new requirements also ask for a minimum of 60 hours of training in sex therapy instead of 90 hours.  The title Diplomate of Sex Therapy was thus established by AASECT to recognize those Certified Sex Therapists who were certified under the old, strenuous guidelines, and AASECT grandfathered them into a Diplomate in Sex therapy status.  In general, the practice of sex therapy by either a Certified Sex Therapist or a Diplomate is quite similar.

25. What is the difference between a Certified Sexuality Counselor and a Certified Sex Therapist?
AASECT certified sex therapists are mental health professionals, trained to provide in-depth psychotherapy, who have specialized in treating clients with sexual issues and concerns. They are either licensed, or in the absence of available licensure, certified, registered, or clinical members of a national psychotherapy organization.

Sex counselors represent a variety of professions, ranging from medicine to the clergy. Examples of sex 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. Sex counseling is generally short term and client centered, focusing on the immediate concern or problem.

Sex therapists work with simple sexual concerns also, but in addition, where appropriate, are prepared to provide comprehensive and intensive psychotherapy over an extended period of time in more complex cases. AASECT requires sex counselors and therapists to fulfill specific and rigorous training requirements in order to become certified.
Using the below P-LI-SS-IT* model for Sexual Counseling, sex counselors are trained to perform the initial three steps (P-LI-SS), while sex therapists can provide all four (P-LI-SS-IT).

The P-LI-SS-IT model for Sexual Counseling:
Permission (P): The practitioner creates a climate of comfort and permission for clients to discuss sexual concerns, often introducing the topic of sexuality, thereby validating sexuality as a legitimate health issue.

Limited Information (LI): The practitioner addresses specific sexual concerns and attempts to correct myths and misinformation.

Specific suggestions (SS): The practitioner compiles a sexual history or profile of the client:
– 1. Defining the issues and concerns of the client.
– 2. Determining the course of how the issues have evolved over time.
– 3. Facilitating the client’s understanding of the main issues and providing options for resolution.
– 4. Assisting the client in formulating perceptions and ideas about sources of these concerns and developing realistic and appropriate goals and solution plans.

Intensive Therapy (IT): The practitioner provides specialized treatment in cases that are complicated by the coexistence of other complex life issues which may also include psychiatric diagnoses such as depression, anxiety disorders (including obsessive-compulsive disorder), personality disorders, or substance abuse, or by interpersonal or intrapersonal conflict.

Sex counselors are trained to identify situations that require intensive therapy and to make appropriate referrals.
(*Annon, JS (1976) Behavioral Treatment of Sexual Problems: Brief Therapy. Harper & Row, ISBN: 0-06-140265-6)

26. What is sex therapy?
Sex Therapy is a subspecialty of psychotherapy, focusing on the specific concerns related to human sexuality.  People of all ages, creeds, health status, ethnic backgrounds, whether partnered or single, may benefit from working with a psychotherapist who specializes in this area.  Certified Sex Therapists use specialized clinical skills and theoretical knowledge to help people solve their sexual concerns.

In most states and provinces, Sex Therapy is not a separately licensed or regulated profession, just as child psychotherapy or geriatric psychotherapy is not government regulated beyond granting the basic license to practice therapy.  To assure the public of highly qualified practitioners, AASECT provides voluntary certification to those therapists who have completed the rigorous certification process.  Only those therapists who have met these qualifications may designate themselves as “AASECT Certified Sex Therapists.”

27. What kinds of problems can benefit from Sex Therapy?
Typically people experiencing concerns about arousal, performance, or satisfaction are likely to benefit from Sex Therapy. Among these problems are decreased or increased desire for intimacy, or in the case of a couple, mismatched or discrepant desire or interest in sexual intimacy.  Both men and women can experience concerns about arousal and there are many causes and options for solving these problems.  At any age, performance or lovemaking skills can be of concern, just as can issues around orgasm and satisfaction.

Additionally concerns about sexual trauma in one’s background, medical conditions that affect one’s sexuality, sexual pain disorders, concerns about gender identity or sexual orientation, and issues around sexual compulsivity or addiction are frequent concerns that people discuss with a Certified Sex Therapist.

28. What happens in Sex Therapy?
The Sex Therapy process is very similar to that experienced with other mental health practitioners.  The Certified Sex Therapist will meet with the person as an individual or with a couple in an office setting where an extensive history of the concerns will be taken.  The Certified Sex Therapist will note both the psychological and the physical components and will establish one or more diagnoses.  After this, a treatment plan will be proposed, usually with your involvement in its development.  In some instances, the Certified Sex Therapist may work closely with the person’s physician, nurse, or other therapist or counselor to establish causes and remedies for the problems.

Depending on the diagnosis, the Certified Sex Therapist will educate the person or couple about the issue and about options for change.  This educational process may occur through suggested reading material, through watching educational audio-visual materials, through discussion with the therapist, through attending workshops, or all of these therapy processes.  Sometimes having more information will allow the problem to resolve.  Sometimes more specific or intensive therapy will be needed.

If more specific therapy is needed, the Certified Sex Therapist may suggest a regular schedule of office appointments.  Often, homework exercises to be practiced individually or as a couple in the privacy of one’s home between office appointments will be suggested.  The homework may be as general as communication exercises or as specific as actual sexual experiences, depending on the progress in therapy and the person’s level of comfort with accepting direction.

In no instances will a Certified Sex Therapist engage in any kind of sexual activity with a therapy patient/client, whether in the office or in any location.  To do so is a breach of ethics, and in some states and provinces is a crime.