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Career in Sexual Health

The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) counts among its membership a large variety of sexual health professionals. In addition to sexuality educators, sexuality counselors, and sex therapists, AASECT members also include physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, allied health professionals, clergy members, lawyers, sociologists, marriage and family counselors and therapists, family planning specialists and researchers, as well as students in relevant professional disciplines. What all of these individuals have in common is a shared interest in promoting an understanding of human sexuality and healthy sexual behavior.

If you yourself have been studying the subject of sexual health, and are still questioning where to go next within the field, allow this to be a quick primer on some of the more common career paths within the industry.

Educators. Sexual health educators are responsible for planning, organizing, and implementing sexual health education programs for various age groups. Educators may find themselves working within a traditional educational venue, such as a public or private high school or university. But those aren't the only options. Sex educators may also find themselves working:

• in a consulting capacity, for any number of corporations and/or organizations.
• as part of a government healthcare department.
• within a non-profit organization.
• at a sex shop.
• at a hospital or clinic.
• in another type of healthcare facility, such as a nursing home.
• as part of a community-based program focused on any number of sexual health-related issues, such as sexual orientation, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control options, abortion, sexual violence, reproduction, etc.
• via online education forums such as webinars, interactive websites, FAQs, etc.
• in  faith-based programs.
• as contributors to or authors of books or textbooks geared toward increasing general knowledge of sexual health information.
• as sex coaches.
• and the list goes on...

Counselors.  Sex counselors provide professional guidance to help clients resolve personal conflicts and emotional issues that may stem from struggles with sex and/or intimacy. In addition to private practice, counselors may also find themselves working:

• as advisors to patients in a healthcare setting.
• in private practice or members of a group practice.
• as consultants to health oriented websites.
• teaching at colleges and universities.
• etc.

Therapists. Though the words "counselor" and "therapist" are often used interchangeably among the general population, a sex therapist usually holds a mental health license in one of the  mental health disciplines. This includes insight-oriented and psychodynamic — as well as  prescriptive, often behavioral — solutions to problems with intimacy and sexuality. In addition to private practice, therapists may also find themselves working:

• as members of a healthcare team in a hospital or outpatient setting.
• in private practice or as members of a group practice.
• teaching in colleges and universities.
• writing books or textbooks geared toward increasing sexual health and information.
• as consultants to health oriented websites.
• etc.

Of course, in addition to the above career paths — all of which appear in the organization's name — one could also pursue a career as:
• a researcher, conducting sexuality research, at a place like the Kinsey Institute.
• a more general medical provider who also addresses sexual problems, or who specializes in performing gender reassignment surgeries or providing OB/GYN care.
• a minister or other member of the clergy who has a focus on helping people address the intersection of sexuality and spirituality.
• a lawyer, advocating for sexual rights with a group like the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, or the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, or a sexual health activist.
• an author, sex columnist, or journalist.

The possibilities are endless, and are only limited by your own imagination. Where do you see a void in the marketplace? What are you passionate about? Where do you see a population or community in need?