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Certification by AASECT as a sexuality educator, sexuality counselor or sex therapist is a crucial step in one's professional advancement, demonstrating to all that stringent requirements for training and experience have been met. AASECT offers certification of sexual health practitioners in four categories: sexuality educator, sexuality counselor, sex therapist and supervisor. For the vast majority of professionals in healthcare and human services, certification is a prerequisite to practice. AASECT credentials sexual health professionals on the basis of rigorous standards for academic preparation, supervised training and consultation, field-related experience and applied skills.
Requirements such as academic degrees, specific core subject areas and clock hours of education and field-related experience and training are identified for each category of certification. Field experience and practical application of skills and competencies carried out under trained and approved supervision or consultation are crucial aspects of certification.
Applicants must substantiate completion of certification requirements with academic transcripts and other formal documentation, and must also undergo peer review of their credentials.
Certification by AASECT "Under Special Circumstances" provides a mechanism for established professionals in the fields of sexuality education, sexuality counseling and sex therapy to be certified on the basis of their professional experience.
Sex education, sexuality counseling and sex therapy are separate disciplines, not levels of expertise within one discipline or field. When considering which certification for which you wish to apply, you should consider your existing field of expertise and work. Are you primarily an educator, perhaps leading workshops, teaching classes, or organizing and facilitating seminars? Are you primarily a counselor, perhaps working in a clinical or medical setting, giving specific suggestions and advice? Are you primarily a therapist, working with people in individual, partners or family sessions on various sex-related issues? Each of these disciplines requires its own set of skills and knowledge. Use these questions to guide you in your choice of application, or ask a Certified Supervisor, perhaps one that you hope to have as your supervisor, for help with this decision.
AASECT Certified Sexuality Educators teach and train about a range of topics, including but not limited to sexual health; sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology; family planning, contraception, and pregnancy/childbirth; sexually transmitted infections; gender identity and roles; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues; sexual function and dysfunction; sexual pleasure; sexual variation; sexuality and disability; sexuality and chronic illness; sexual development across the lifespan; sexual abuse, assault, and coercion; and sexuality across cultures. Sexuality educators may teach in the classroom at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels. They may also provide education for groups of children, adolescents, or adults, training for professionals, and outreach and education in community-based, healthcare, corporate, and faith-based settings. Sexuality educators also may design and conduct workshops, courses, and seminars; contribute to the sexuality education literature, develop curriculum; plan and administer programs; deliver lectures and provide one-on-one client education sessions.
AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselors represent a variety of professions, ranging from medicine to the clergy. Examples of sexuality 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. Sexuality counseling is generally short term and client centered, focusing on the immediate concern or problem.
AASECT Certified Sex Therapists are licensed mental health professionals, trained to assess, diagnose, and provide in-depth psychotherapy, who have specialized in treating clients with sexual issues and concerns. In the absence of available licensure, they are certified, registered, or clinical members of a national psychotherapy organization. Sex therapists work with sexual concerns, including, but not limited to: sexual function and dysfunction; sexual pleasure; sexual variation; sexuality and disability; sexuality and chronic illness; sexual development across the lifespan; sexual abuse, assault, and coercion; and sexuality across cultures, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. In addition, where appropriate, are prepared to provide comprehensive and intensive psychotherapy over an extended period of time in more complex cases.
Using the P-LI-SS-IT* model for Sexuality Counseling, sexuality counselors are trained to perform the initial three steps (P-LI-SS), while sex therapists can provide all four steps (P-LI-SS-IT).
The P-LI-SS-IT Model for Sexuality 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.
Sexuality 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)
Academic qualifications for certifications for Sexuality Educator and Sexuality Counselor have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree. Those pursuing certification as a Sex Therapist require, at minimum, a Master’s Degree in a clinical specialty that includes psychotherapy training. All of these degrees must be awarded by accredited colleges or universities. In addition to the academic requirements, professional experience, supervision, and academic (credit bearing) coursework specific to the field (sexuality, as well as education, counseling, and/or therapy) must be officially documented. Finally, all candidates MUST be supervised by AASECT certified professionals for the indicated number of hours. The specific coursework and supervision are clearly detailed on our website. Pursuit of more than one certification requires supervision and coursework in each.
AASECT cannot recommend any specific academic programs; however, candidates are encouraged to pursue one that is accredited. The following website may be helpful in your search:
AASECT does not provide student visas nor funding to international applicants.
What is Expected of AASECT Certified Professionals? Review details of the Professional Conduct Guidelines below:
AASECT Professional Conduct Guidelines
To acquire, maintain or renew AASECT Certification, the certified member is required:
1. To maintain membership with AASECT as defined in Article III, Section B, of the AASECT Bylaws at http://aasect.org/bylaws, including continuing education (CE) as required.
2. To adhere to the AASECT Code of Ethics posted at http://www.aasect.org/code-ethics.
*Vision of Sexual Health
*AASECT Policy on Touch
3. To be licensed or credentialed in the state of practice as mandated by law and be knowledgeable and aware of the limitations of such licensure or credential.
4. To respond to and provide full and accurate information about pending or actual actions against any license or credential or surrender of a license or credential, that serves as a partial condition for certification.
5. To truthfully, accurately and completely respond to any and all questions on initial and renewal applications.
6. To remain current on new developments in the field of sexuality and sexuality counseling.
7. To earn a minimum of twenty (20) AASECT CE Credits every three (3) years for AASECT Certification Renewal.
The AASECT website and other appropriate documents state clearly what conditions are expected of a certificate holder to earn or retain said certificate, and what procedures may be
followed if a client/patient or other individual feels that the standards of AASECT may have been violated. Bylaws, Code of Ethics and AASECT Certification Renewal Policies
NOTE: AASECT Supervisor status pertains solely to the supervision process of those seeking AASECT Certification status as a Sexuality Educator, Sexuality Counselor, Sex Therapist or
Practitioner Supervisor. AASECT does not condone or encourage anyone to provide supervision that is beyond the scope or jurisdiction of their professional license or credentials. Each person
who does supervision is responsible for knowing the limitations of their license and/or credentials.