Who does what ... and how? It can get confusing, So here's the 411.
For many years, I was a therapist who worked with individuals, couples, and even corporations, dealing with the myriad of problems that we humans face. Back then, I was what one might call a "generalist," although people with relationship and sexual issues somehow managed to make their way to my doorstep more often than not.
Maybe it was partly because I was already knowledgeable and interested in many facets of sexuality, and I was extremely non-judgmental. Perhaps it was also because I appeared frequently on talk-television where — surprise, surprise! — sex and love was a frequent focus. In any case, over time, and given the amount of attention I was paying to sex in my work, I decided that being comfortable with the topic and knowing a reasonable amount about it just wasn't good enough. 'Sex And The City' Helps Me Be A Better Therapist
I sought additional training in sex therapy, and was eventually certified as a sex therapist by the "gold standard" of credentialing authorities, The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). This was an important step for me, in no small part because I realized how much more I had needed to know all along. Consequently, I'm a bit of a cheerleader for advanced training in sex therapy for anyone working with couples, and certification for anyone who uses the term "sex therapist" as a description.
If you're considering counseling or therapy, you'll have a variety of professionals from which to choose, with a range of levels and types of training. If some aspect of your relationship is troubling you, or your sexual connection isn't quite what you'd like it to be, or you're feeling qualms about some of your own sexual desires, then it's important to know about the different types of sexuality and relationship experts available to help, and how they are similar or different from one another. 3 Simple Steps For Lasting Love
Let's start with the term "sex therapist," and what that means. In the very early days of the profession, sex therapists were primarily behavioral therapists who dealt with sexual problems by assigning clients exercises to bring about functional change. Those days of narrow focus and limited technique are long gone. 4 Things I've Learned From Being A Sex Therapist
Today, a credentialed sex therapist is a full-fledged and licensed psychotherapist with an MA, MSW or Ph.D. degree, usually in psychology, counseling, or social work. She or he has additional advanced training in sexology and wide-ranging sex therapy methods. It's this additional training — as well as a continuing education requirement — that really distinguishes a certified sex therapist from other therapists.
Yet, vestiges of those early days linger, and even some mental health professionals hold the mistaken notion that sex therapy addresses merely the functional part of sex — i.e., getting or keeping an erection, having an orgasm, lack of desire, pain with sex, etc.
Today, we know that it makes no sense to split-off body and psyche. Consider that our sexuality is connected to every aspect of who we are. It's informed by the culture we grew up in and the one we live in now; it's affected by the way we learned about sex and our first relationship experiences. 7 Ways To Make Your Love Life More Sensual
Our sexuality influences how we feel about our bodies, our physical health, our moods, and, of course, the satisfaction we find in our intimate relationships. A sex therapist has to be expert at working with all of the puzzle pieces in your life — emotional, mental and physiological; past, present, and future — in order to help you fit them all together.
Complicating matters is the fact that some practitioners use terms like "sex educator" or "sex coach" to describe themselves. So, you might wonder — what, exactly, is the difference between an educator, coach and therapist?
We can view the difference in terms of the amount and depth of training the individual has had, and the depth of emotion and history he or she is trained to explore with a client. Educators and coaches do not necessarily have advanced degrees, although some do. Typically, educators and coaches are able to offer explicit sex information, teach sex and communication skills, and provide suggestions for positive change, but they aren't meant to delve deeply into your emotional issues or relationship conflicts. Is Sex Therapy For You? [VIDEO]
By contrast, a sex therapist can work with you as intensely as needed, plus, do the same kinds of skills-building and educating as coaches. Consequently, some sex therapists identify their expertise by using both terms. In addition, because a sex therapist is usually an experienced couples' therapist first, clients needn't split time and funds between a "regular" couples counselor and a sex therapist.
A certified sex therapist is usually trained to handle all types of couple's concerns, sexual or otherwise, while a typical marital therapist is rarely equipped to do sex therapy. Unfortunately, many have little or no background in that area at all. 3 Ways To Attract Men If You Don’t Look Like A Model
So, if you're thinking about working with a couple's therapist or sex therapist, here's my advice:
- Be sure he or she is certified by AASECT or can demonstrate an equivalent level of training. Standards for AASECT Certification are available on their website at aasect.org.
- She or he should be someone you feel comfortable with. You'll be speaking in great detail about your most intimate experiences, so you want to feel accepted no matter how unusual you think your concerns may be. You want to feel that your therapist gets you. Especially if your sexual or relationship style is not mainstream or "vanilla," you'll want to be sure to work with someone who is accepting and knowledgeable about your lifestyle.
- Because any form of therapy creates a very unique relationship between therapist and client, impeccable skills are just the starting point. Sometimes, no matter how good a therapist looks on paper, the chemistry between you is just wrong. That's why it's so important that you trust your gut. There's no substitute for feeling safe enough to expose your deepest truths.
To Read Great Sex Advice: