Part one explained what those letters mean and how to obtain sex therapy certification. Part two will focus on how a certified sex therapist differs from a therapist with no additional training. (Please note that many therapists may be completing training for sex therapy, but cannot use the letters CST until they complete the requirements for certification.)
Again, no, I (or other sex therapists) do not engage in sexual relations with clients.
A certified sex therapist (or sex therapist under supervision/in training) has completed specific training with workshops and supervision devoted to sexuality including but not limited to:
- sexual orientation and behaviors
- medical conditions impacting sexuality
- ethical practices
- sexual functioning
- sexual practices and lifestyles
- sexual health
Next, we’ll look at tips on how to research and find a sex therapist.
Tips to Finding a Sex Therapist for YOU:
- Ask your doctor:
Many times, sex therapists will network with local doctors, and many doctors like referring patients to therapists. Medical doctors can treat medical problems, but they typically don’t the emotional or long-term effects of a medical condition. Also, many times, a suspected medical condition is really related to emotional health. In my own practice, I always rule out medical concerns before working with a new client. I gain written permission to speak to the client’s doctor or I review paperwork sent from the doctor. I want to ensure that all possible medical conditions have been addressed to ensure proper treatment planning of the client. For example, many times men will present with erectile concerns whether they cannot maintain or achieve an erection or there is trouble with orgasm. I need to ensure that all infections, medication side effects, other medical conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc) have been evaluated, treated and resolved. If the concern continues to persist, this indicates a behavioral or emotional cause that can be treated with therapy or other behavioral interventions.
- Ask your therapist friend/family member:
Although your friend or family member cannot provide you treatment, he or she can refer you to other therapist colleagues! One of my greatest compliments is when a therapist colleague refers a client to me. I know many therapists from various jobs, networking events, and professional organizations, but there are some therapists I will NOT refer clients or potential clients. On the other hand, there are many therapists whom I highly respect and will refer a friend, family member, or stranger to without hesitation!
- Search the Internet:
My first recommendation when using the Internet is The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT.org). This is the national organization listing certified sex therapists. As stated in part 1, not all qualified sex therapists are certified though they are in training. These therapists can be found through other websites that offer a broader search options like PsychologyToday.com. Again, sometimes the best referral is from someone you know who practices sex therapy or education and can provide you a list of two or three therapist to research.
- Ask for a complementary phone consultation:
One of my rules of thumb before scheduling to meet with a new client is arranging a brief and complementary phone consultation. I want to ensure I can provide the services a client is seeking and answer any other questions from a new client. On that note, INTERVIEW your potential therapist. Create 3-5 questions you would like to know about the therapist or the practice. I know it can feel embarrassing or uncomfortable disclosing personal information over the phone, but this helps the therapist begin to understand you. Use whatever words/slang/lingo that is comfortable for you. My job is to listen and understand what you are telling me. Don’t forget, I wouldn’t be a sex therapist if the ever-growing sex terminology made me uncomfortable.
Look out for part 3 of “You’re a Sex Therapist…” where I share how and why I became a sex therapist.