An American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) certified sex therapist and couples counselor is the most qualified to help you solve sexual problems and to fine-tune sex and relationship issues. Certified sex and intimacy coaches are trained to help with communication and fine-tuning, but they are sometimes trying to do sex therapy in the guise of sex coaching.

This does not mean sex coaches are insincere. It means that we all need to realize our limitations and our strengths. Some sex therapists are highly skilled at fine-tuning couples and fixing communication issues, while others are not as qualified.

Sex coaching is sometimes an end run around rigorous preparation to be a sex therapist or a sex counselor. Sex coaches are often sex positive. Some sex therapists—but by no means all–are sex positive. AASECT certified sex therapists have completed academic course requirements in every area of human sexuality, and they have had extensive supervision with a highly skilled supervisor.

Sex coaches are paraprofessionals. Because coaches are not licensed, health insurance cannot be billed, and the client is entirely out of pocket. In most states, obtaining malpractice insurance is not feasible without a license. Some sex coaches have a background in sexology (including sex research and the history of studying and educating about sex), but they are often not sexologists with a graduate degree. Some call themselves sex educators, but even AASECT certified sex educators are not qualified to do sex counseling or therapy.

AASECT also certifies sex counselors, but they have less rigorous training than an AASECT sex therapist. The academic qualifications and courses are not as demanding as with a certified sex therapist, who has in depth training to deal with sex from a psychotherapist perspective, rather than an on the surface counseling point of view. Therapists and counselors typically have a more thorough background in sexology than a sex coach.

hand holding a whistleIn most states anyone can call themselves a sex therapist or a sex or intimacy coach, but this means nothing. Some who call themselves sex coaches do sexological bodywork (hands on sensual touching along with information about sex and the body), which can be a helpful compliment to informed sex therapy.

It is difficult for a potential client to ascertain who is truly qualified to help with sexual problems. Some sex coaches have attractive websites, but this does not mean they are able to comprehensively assist with sexual and relationship concerns. Some claim to refer out to sex therapists when they are not prepared to deal with sexual problems, but these are muddy waters.

It is hard to imagine a coach referring out when a client has performance anxiety and erection difficulties, lack of orgasm or low desire. Some claim to solve these concerns on their websites, but they require medical knowledge and couples counseling skills to do so. The coach would not have a business if they frequently referred out for these and other sexual problems.

Sex coaches often charge as much or more than a certified sex therapist. Coaches certified by Sex Coach U. are more skilled than a person with essentially no training or supervision. There is some merit to supporting certified sex coaching and sex therapy, but the complexity of presenting problems supports the argument that people with sexual and relationship issues are best served by a professional who has comprehensive course work and supervision to do couples counseling and sex therapy.