I get many calls and emails from couples and individuals with sexual problems. Some have already gone to a “sex coach” or a “sex therapist” without real certifications and actual experience. Others have worked with a marriage or couples’ counselor, or a counselor who does not specialize in solving sexual dilemmas.

Still others have never approached any counselor or coach with their problem. They often comment that they do not know where to turn for professional help from a therapist who is qualified to help them.

Some have spent lots of time and money with a wide variety of counselors, coaches and therapists with no real help. If you Google sex therapy, you are likely to find AdWords which feature poorly prepared people who claim they can help you with sexual issues. Some of these ads include a real certified sex therapist with credentials that seem legit, but are not really appropriate or detailed.

Similarly, LinkedIn has a potpourri of people who claim to be sexual healers, sex coaches or sex therapists. Many do not even have websites, which is a red herring. Unfortunately, there are plenty of charlatans on the web who claim to be something they are not. They claim their unique approach will solve any sexual or relationship problem.

Choose a Therapist With a Background in Sexology

aasect logoI am not a negative person. I am an optimist, but I believe that no one should go beyond their scope of practice in any area of counseling. They should be licensed and credentialed. In the sex field, this means certification by The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), and it means additional background in sexology—the study of human sexuality.

There are other credentialing organizations, but AASECT is a must. Some call themselves Clinical Sexologists, and they often use this term as if it means they are certified sex therapists, which they are not. Being a sexologist is a plus, but it is also important to be a certified sex therapist.

There are too many people who call themselves sex therapists who are not being honest or precise. Many have a real interest in sex, and they feel their sexual experiences alone qualify them as sex experts, which is not the case. It of course is helpful if a therapist has had a great sex life, but far more is critical here. Some even call themselves “sexperts,” which means absolutely nothing.

A real sex expert has a background and training as a sexologist, and the person also has a license and legitimate certifications and experience. I would never advise anyone to see a sex therapist if they do not have a thorough website detailing their credentials, degrees and experience. It is not enough to be a marriage counselor or a social worker. There must be specific certifications in sex therapy, and hopefully in sexology.

Just because a therapist is listed on the Psychology Today website does not mean they are appropriately credentialed and experienced. It is critical to compare therapists by looking at their websites and calling them with any questions. In the end it helps to get a comfortable feeling from researching therapists and finally choosing the best option.

Besides professional licenses and certifications, it is important to locate a therapist who has a sense of humor, and who is evidence based, and who offers an actual treatment plan. It is also relevant to find a therapist who does not have a long waiting list and who is available in their office as well as online. No one should have to wait a long time to see a qualified therapist, but it is worth it to wait a week or two to find the best available therapist.

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