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AASECT Requirements for Sex Therapist Certification

The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) has established that the following education and experiential activities will meet the requirements for Sex Therapist Certification.

I. Membership in AASECT

The applicant may hold Professional, Retired, or Life Membership in AASECT.

II. AASECT Code of Conduct

The applicant will have read the AASECT Code of Conduct. By signing the certification application form, the applicant agrees to be bound by the AASECT Code of Conduct.

III. Academic and Professional Experience

The applicant will have earned an advanced clinical degree that included psychotherapy training from an accredited college or university and the following clinical experience. Only coursework from regionally accredited colleges or universities, nationally accredited, faith-based institutions, and/or AASECT sponsored or approved courses will be accepted to fulfill content requirements for certification.

This information can be found by searching a college or university’s website for “accreditation.”

Visit this link for more details on regional vs. national accreditation:

A. Master's degree plus two years of post-degree clinical experience.

- OR –

B. A Doctoral degree plus one year of post-degree clinical experience.

IV. Clinical Certification & Licensure

A. The applicant will hold a valid state regulatory license or certificate for the state in which the applicant practices, and be able to practice psychotherapy independently, in one of the following disciplines: psychology, medicine, social work, counseling, nursing, or marriage and family therapy. During the process of establishing the supervision contract, the supervisor is responsible for discussing licensing with the supervisee. In general, supervisees should know that if they are eligible for licensure and under contract for supervision, they should have the applicable state license. For those supervisees who are not yet licensed in their state, the supervisor's license will be sufficient.

B. Applicants from Canada, Israel, Mexico and Puerto Rico will document how their equivalent education meets or compares to the requirements for AASECT Certification.

V. Human Sexuality Education: Core Knowledge

The applicant will have completed a minimum of ninety (90) clock hours of academic coursework in sexuality education, covering general knowledge in the Core Knowledge areas listed below. Of these ninety (90) clock hours of Core Knowledge, seventy-five (75) hours may be earned through eLearning. Education should be from an accredited university or college, may include some AASECT CE credits, or be a combination of both academic coursework and AASECT CE credits.

When documenting the ninety (90) hours, it is expected that the applicant document at least three (3) clock hours per content area listed under Core Knowledge. [one (1) clock hour = sixty (60) minutes] The remaining hours can be spread as desired among the core areas, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one area. 

Coursework from accredited academic institutions will be accepted to fulfill content for AASECT Certification. AASECT sponsored or approved CE credit courses will also be accepted to fulfill content required for AASECT Certification. All other professional CE credit courses and/or trainings will count for one half (1/2) of full AASECT sponsored or approved courses/trainings. Acceptance of coursework, AASECT sponsored/approved CE credits or non-AASECT sponsored/approved CE credits is at the discretion of the AASECT Certification Committee member reviewers.

Note: For credits from AASECT sponsored or AASECT approved CE programs (one (1) CE = one (1) AASECT credit). For credits from non-AASECT sponsored or non-AASECT approved CE programs (two (2) CE credits = one (1) AASECT credit).

Core Knowledge Areas

All candidates must have knowledge of the following as they relate to sexual health and pleasure:

A. Ethics and ethical behavior.

B. Developmental sexuality from a bio-psycho-social perspective across the life course.

C. Socio-cultural, familial factors (e.g., ethnicity, culture, religion, spirituality, socioeconomic status, family values), in relation to sexual values and behaviors.

D. Issues related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity: heterosexuality; issues and themes impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual people; gender identity and expression.

E. Intimacy skills (e.g., social, emotional, sexual), intimate relationships, interpersonal relationships and family dynamics.

F. Diversities in sexual expression and lifestyles, including, but not limited to polyamory, swinging, BDSM and tantra.

G. Sexual and reproductive anatomy/physiology.*

H. Health/medical factors that may influence sexuality, including, but not limited to, illness, disability, drugs, mental health, conception, pregnancy, childbirth & pregnancy termination, contraception, fertility, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infection, other infections, sexual trauma, injury and safer sex practices.*

I. Range of sexual functioning and behavior, from optimal to problematic, including, but not limited to, common issues such as: desire discrepancy, lack of desire, difficulty achieving or maintaining arousal, sexual pain, penetration problems and difficulty with orgasm.

J. Sexual exploitation, including sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

K. Cyber sexuality and social media.*

L. Substance use/abuse and sexuality.*

M. Pleasure enhancement skills.

N. Learning theory and its application.

O. Professional communication and personal reflection skills.

P. History of the discipline of sex research, theory, education, counseling and therapy.

Q. Principles of sexuality research and research methods.

*Please note: Sections G,H,K,L are time sensitive and should have reasonable up to date information and training. 

*Please note: Beginning 1 April 2022, the Board recognizes and rewards AASECT’s countless volunteers for their work, without which AASECT could not serve its members at the current standard of quality. To these ends, Committee Chairs for Certification, Communication, Treasurer , PESC, PRMA, Outreach, Personnel, Bylaws, Ethics, Nominating, VP of Membership and Strategic Plan, may award up to 5 credits total every two years for leadership, service, or organizational support on an AASECT-approved/sponsored committee, task force, national conference, open house, etc.  In the future, a rubric from the PESC might recognize additional service outside of AASECT to benefit the educational, counseling, and therapy needs of our global community. Regardless of how many volunteer credits AASECT’s members might earn, they may use only 5 of those towards initial certification. This is not to limit their volunteer opportunities by any means, but rather to encourage a more robust experience on the path to certification.

VI. Sex Therapy Training

The applicant will have completed a minimum of sixty (60) clock hours of training in how to effectively carry out (do) sex therapy with patients/clients whose diagnoses include the ‘Psychosexual Disorders’ described in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. 

For applications submitted after July 1, 2018 it is required that all 30 in-person hours (non e-learning) must be completed through an academic (college or university) program in sex therapy, a comprehensive sex therapy program or AASECT approved sex therapy training.

Sex therapy training must involve the learning of specific sex therapy techniques and interventions, not just theory. The training may be achieved through attending a specific sex therapy training program, taking graduate level academic courses that are specific to sex therapy techniques or by attending AASECT workshops which outline specific sex therapy techniques and how those may be applied to working with individuals and couples.  As an example: you might attend a workshop on Sensate Focus and learn the theory of this particular therapeutic technique. An additional workshop would be required on how to present this technique, what kind of language to use, how to time and pace the specific assignments, and in which order the assignments are given. Additionally, you would learn how to deal with clients who resist doing the assignments, how to help them deal with being blocked and how to deal with couples where one wants to do the assignments and the other partner does not.

Special exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis, but the applicant must work with their supervisor and obtain pre-approval from the AASECT Certification Committee prior to beginning the training if it does not meet the criteria listed above. 

Applicants must document at least three (3) hours in each content area listed below, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one content area of A – F below:

A. Theory and methods of sex-related psychotherapy, including several different models.

B. Techniques of sex-related assessment and diagnosis of the ‘Psychosexual Disorders’ described in the current edition of the DSM.

C. Theory and methods of approach to intervention in relationship systems experiencing sex and intimacy problems. Therapists with no documented graduate or post graduate training in couples counseling must acquire 16 hours of couples counseling training as part of the 60 hours of Sex Therapy Training (Section VI).  Couples therapy is psychotherapy which focuses on the couple and views the couple as the client. Clinical skills such as: attending to the interaction with each partner, knowing the power dynamic/ struggle that may occur, teaching effective, authentic communication, understanding and bringing awareness to deeper, hidden unmet needs and childhood wounds, psycho education of couples skill such as active listening, validation, empathy, asking for what they want and need, and negotiating differences are imperative. Suggested options to gain couples therapy skills and training are: Imago Relational Therapy, Gottman, Schnarch, Bader & Pearson, and Emotional Focused Therapy as possible examples.** This training may be done online. 

D. Theory and method of approach to medical intervention in the evaluation and treatment of psychosexual disorders.**

E. Principles of consultation, collaboration, and referral.

F. Ethical decision-making and best practice.

** Please note: Sections C & D are time sensitive and should have reasonable up to date information and training.

Note: The difference between the requirements V and VI is that the education requirements in V are directed at general knowledge about human sexuality, while the training requirements in VI are directed at specific skills in sex therapy. The two categories of requirements are sufficiently different; therefore, documentation is necessary in each.

VII. Attitudes and Values Training Experience

The applicant will have participated in a minimum of fourteen (14) clock hours of structured group experience consisting of a process-oriented exploration of the applicant's own feelings, attitudes, values, and beliefs regarding human sexuality and sexual behavior [e.g., a Sexuality Attitude Reassessment (SAR)]. Such training may not be personal psychotherapy or an academic experience in which the primary emphasis is on cognitive information. It is strongly recommended that this experience occur early in the applicant's training to be most beneficial. The applicant must have been an attendee in the SAR and not been functioning as a facilitator or co-facilitator in any capacity. The SAR requirement can be fulfilled either virtually or in-person. 

The SAR must be AASECT sponsored or approved.  Each SAR leader must document the name of the SAR participant's AASECT Certified Supervisor if the SAR participant has one at the time of attendance at the SAR workshop.

The applicant will submit, in English, a one page comprehensive statement of his/her professional philosophy and goals of sex therapy, including how the SAR affected that philosophy.

VIII. Clinical Experience, Field Work, Internship or Professional Training Experience

Effective as of January 1, 2015, the applicant will have completed a minimum of providing three hundred (300) hours of AASECT supervised clinical treatment of patients/clients who present with sexual concerns. Clinical experience will include, but is not be limited to, the diagnosis and treatment of psychosexual dysfunctions (diagnoses included in the ‘Psychosexual Disorders’ of the current edition of the DSM). It is expected that the applicant will function as the sole or primary therapist with patients/clients. This clinical experience will have exposed the applicant to a variety of the listed psychosexual disorders and will have included therapy with patients/clients of both genders and with couples. This supervised experience must be started only after the applicant is enrolled in graduate school.

Note: Supervised clinical work is the crux of AASECT Certification. It is in the therapy milieu in which competency is demonstrated.

IX. Supervision

The applicant shall have completed a minimum of fifty (50) hours of supervision with an AASECT Certified Supervisor of Sex Therapy.Of those, 20 hours of individual supervision must be completed with a Primary Supervisor. 

Individuals beginning supervision toward AASECT Sex Therapy Certification must be members of the organization at the time the supervision contract begins.

All supervisors must have a signed supervision contract in place prior to commencing individual or group supervision. All contracts should follow the format presented under AASECT Guidelines for Supervision and include all the documents required for contract.

Supervision hours accrued prior to or without a contract will NOT count toward certification. Applicants who do not have signed supervision contracts will have their applications rejected.

The goal of supervision will have been directed toward the improvement of professionalism by emphasis upon the enhancement of clinical skills and the continuation of the educative process. The presentation of sex-related case materials utilizing direct observation or audio/video is encouraged. Cases selected for supervision should be, as much as possible, followed from the beginning to the end of the clinical process.

Supervision can take place in either an individual or group context, with group supervision accounting for no more than 50% of the supervision hours. Individual supervision means one-to-one supervision.

Group supervision, to be most effective, should contain no more than four (4) supervisees per individual supervisor and, where possible, should be extended beyond one (1) hour. If two (2) supervisors meet together to do group supervision, they may have five (5) - eight (8) supervisees in the group. Group supervision must provide the equivalent of 30 minutes per individual in the group. Therefore a group with two (2) individuals can be no shorter than one (1) hour. A group with three (3) individuals can be no shorter than 90 minutes. And a group with four (4) individuals can be no shorter than two (2) hours.

Supervision must occur over a period of no less than eighteen (18) months.. Total hours per month may not exceed six (6) hours.

CST Sex Therapist Training and Use of Supervisor: We acknowledge that some of supervision may include some didactic training. We continue to support that concept. However, if you have the need, you can complete additional hours of supervision (maximum of five) to meet the requirements in section VI Sex Therapy Training. 

Please note:

A signed Supervision contract must be in place prior to completing these additional hours of supervision.

These five (5) additional supervision hours can be counted toward meeting the requirement of the 60 hours of Sex Therapy Training.

These five (5) hours cannot be double counted toward the 50 hours of Supervision required in section IX.

An applicant with a minimum of ten (10) years of post-degree clinical experience providing sex therapy for an average of 20 hours per week (including working with couples), will require twenty-five (25) hours of supervision (50% percent of which is individual supervision) and an endorsement of clinical skill history by an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. The 18-month minimum length of supervision still applies.

The candidate will need to document the work they have done with specific DSM / ICD-10 Diagnoses. This also includes writing a summary of their work to date that includes;

•       Statement on the theoretical orientation on the sex therapy you have been practicing
•       The types of couples therapy they have been trained in;
•       The location of the therapy they have provided e.g., in person, in a clinic, in private practice, telehealth (Not text based and where they hold licensure)
•       The types of client cases (including sex therapy specific cases treated)
•       Teaching or lecturing experience (if any)
•       Training received that allows them to provide these services (I.e. sex therapy programs, combination of CE trainings, university courses, etc.)
•       Membership in other professional organizations (Sexuality organizations, etc.)
•       Other types of cases they have worked with that fall under the sex therapy categories;
•       Survivors of Sexual Trauma,
•       Out-of-Control Sexual Behaviors,
•       and issues in the LGBTQ Community.

Endorsement letters that are submitted with the application must state knowledge of the 10 years of sex therapy.

Questions about supervision arrangements should be directed to the Practitioner Supervisor Certification Committee Chair via the AASECT office. The following examples do not meet the supervision requirements:

A. Personal psychotherapy or counseling.

B. A process that is primarily didactic, such as a workshop or seminar, in which the primary focus is teaching rather than the raw data of the supervisee's clinical practice.

C. Management and/or administrative meetings with an organizational director or executive.

D. Peer supervision.

E. Co-therapist supervision.

F. Supervision from a family member or significant other person.

G. Supervision from a colleague with whom one is involved in a partnership.

X. Application and Approval Process


It is preferred that complete applications with all supporting documentation be emailed to with a maximum of two PDF attachments. If email is not an option, please mail to the office at 35 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 850, Chicago, IL 60601. Mailed applications must be submitted with no staples, page protectors, tabs, binders, brochures, books or notebooks. Each page of the application should be an 8 ½ X 11 piece of paper (one-sided). It is recommended that you keep a copy of the complete application for your records. 

In addition to the appropriate application fee ($300), which is non-refundable, the candidate will submit:

A. Completed formal AASECT Sex Therapist Certification Application, signed and dated.

B. Copy of official transcript. Transcript may be scanned into the application and does not need to be sealed envelope (Item III).

C. Copy of license, certification, or proof of membership in one (1) of the approved disciplines or professional organizations (Item IV).

D. Official transcripts, attendance certificates, syllabi, etc., documenting ninety (90) hours of education in the designated Core Knowledge areas of human sexuality (Item V).

E. Official transcripts, attendance certificates, syllabi and other credible evidence documenting sixty (60) hours of training in sex therapy that includes the designated areas of focus (Item VI).

F. Official documentation of participation in a structured group experience focusing on sexual attitudes and values e.g., a SAR (Item VII).

G. Endorsement form letter(s) from supervisor(s) certifying a minimum of three hundred (300) hours of clinical experience providing services as the sole or primary therapist for patients/clients with diagnosed ‘Psychosexual Disorders’ as determined by the current DSM.

H. Endorsements must be received from the following persons on the appropriate forms:

1. An AASECT Certified Supervisor of Sex Therapy attesting to the applicant's supervised clinical work. A letter of endorsement from the Primary Supervisor should accompany the Endorsement form included in the application. 

2. Two  professional colleagues who can comment on the applicant's professional responsibilities, professional ethics and overall ability as a sex therapist.

I.  Updated and complete curriculum vitae (CV).

The applicant should clearly mark each document in their application so that the document can easily be matched with the certification requirement to which it applies. All documentation will become the property of AASECT.


Upon receipt of a complete application package, AASECT will forward the application to the Sex Therapist Certification Committee for review. If the reviewers have questions or need additional information, the applicant will be contacted. When all criteria are met and approved by Committee, the applicant will receive notification of the approval.

XI. Miscellaneous

A. All certified members are required to comply with the ethical standards established by AASECT as expressed in the AASECT Code of Conduct.

B. Upon approval from the Sex Therapist Certification Committee, the successful applicant will receive a certificate in recognition of having met AASECT requirements for certification in the area of sex therapy. This certification will be subject to renewal every three (3) years with renewals following in three (3) year increments.

C. Each AASECT Certified Sex Therapist will be listed in the AASECT Membership Directory and will be eligible to receive referrals from the Headquarters Office and AASECT website.

D. Membership in AASECT will be maintained on an annual basis to retain the AASECT Certification status. If membership in AASECT lapses, certification will also lapse. (Click here to find the policy for re-instatement after certification lapse.)

What Counts as Credit Towards AASECT Certification?

The minimum requirements of education and training for Sex Therapist Certification are:

  • Fourteen (14) hours of SAR.*
  • Ninety (90) hours of Human Sexuality Core Knowledge**; seventy-five (75) of these ninety (90) hours can be via eLearning. 
  • Sixty (60) hours of training specific to sex therapy***; thirty (30) of these sixty (60) hours can be via eLearning.

*SAR (14 hours)

The SAR must be AASECT sponsored or approved.

**Human Sexuality Core Knowledge (90 hours)

It is preferred that the ninety (90) hours of human sexuality Core Knowledge be acquired via university or college coursework. Seventy-five (75) of these ninety (90) hours can be earned by eLearning.

***Training Specific to Sex Therapy (60 hours)

For applications submitted after July 1, 2018 it is required that all 30 in-person hours (non e-learning) must be completed through an academic (college or university) program in sex therapy, a comprehensive sex therapy program or AASECT approved sex therapy training.

Please Note:

Most individuals applying for initial certification will not have accomplished any of the items listed below. However, for those individuals who have done so, on a case-by-case basis, AASECT will consider accepting any of the following alternative mechanisms for meeting some of the ninety (90) hours of Core Knowledge.

  1. Publication of a sexually related book. The book must meet AASECT criteria as determined by the Certification Steering Committee. Each book = up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits, depending on the subject, content, and length of the book, as determined by the Certification Steering Committee. If there is more than one (1) book, each book has to be about a completely different sexual related topic.
  2. Publication of a paper in a professional journal or a chapter in a text book. The content must be about some aspect of human sexuality, and the journal or book must meet AASECT criteria as determined by the Certification Steering Committee. Each article or chapter = up to five (5) AASECT CE Credits. If there is more than one (1) paper or chapter, each of them has to be about a completely different aspect of the sexual related topic.
  3. Editing of collected works, books, or journals about sexually related issues. The Certification Steering Committee will determine if the edited work meets AASECT criteria. Each edited work = up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits. If there is more than one (1) edited work, each work has to be about a completely different sexual related topic.
  4. Master’s thesis about some aspect of human sexuality. Up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits.
  5. Doctoral dissertation about some aspect of human sexuality. Up to fifteen (15) AASECT CE Credits.
  6. Designing and conducting a sexually related training or sexually enrichment program for AASECT members (sponsored or approved by AASECT). Up to a maximum of fifteen (15) hours of presentation. 
  7. Designing and conducting a sexually related training or sexually enrichment program for a non-AASECT setting, or one not sponsored by AASECT. The Certification Steering Committee will determine whether the teaching experience meets AASECT criteria. Up to a maximum of ten (10) hours of presentation.