Sexuality Counselor Requirements
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) has established that the following education and experiential activities will meet the requirements for Sexuality Counselor Certification.
I. Membership in AASECT
The applicant may hold Professional, Retired, or Life Membership in AASECT.
II. AASECT Code of Ethics
III. Academic and Professional Experience
The applicant will have earned an academic degree in a human service program from an accredited college or university recognized by the Council on Post-secondary Accreditation and acquired professional experience as follows. Only coursework from accredited institutions and/or AASECT sponsored or approved courses will be accepted to fulfill content requirements for certification.
A. A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree plus three years of professional counseling experience. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours of professional sexuality counseling experience (cumulative), in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
- OR -
B. Master’s degree plus two years of professional counseling experience. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours of professional sexuality counseling experience (cumulative), in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
- OR -
C. Doctoral degree plus two years of professional counseling experience. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours of professional sexuality counseling experience (cumulative), in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
D. Applicants from outside the United States must document equivalent certification of training experience. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours of professional sexuality counseling experience (cumulative), in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
IV. General Eligibility
A. No clinical certification is required.
B. Applicants with a Master’s or Doctoral degree who hold valid state regulatory licenses or certificates in a discipline that provides psychotherapy will not be eligible for AASECT Sexuality Counselor Certification but are encouraged to apply for AASECT Sex Therapist 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 the 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. Knowledge of professional communication skills used with clients, students and colleagues.
P. History of the discipline of sex research, theory, education, counseling and therapy.
Q. Principles of sexuality research and research methods.
It is expected that the applicant document at least three (3) clock hours [one (1) clock hour = sixty (60) minutes] per content area listed above (A-Q). The remaining hours can be spread as desired amongst the seventeen (17) core areas, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one area.
Education should be from an accredited university or college, may include some AASECT CE credits, or be a combination of both.
VI. Sexuality Counseling Training
The applicant shall have completed a minimum of sixty (60) clock hours of training in how to effectively carry out (do) counseling with patients/clients/couples/families/groups. Of these sixty (60) hours of specialty training in sexuality counseling, thirty (30) hours may be earned through eLearning. The remaining thirty (30) hours (non-eLearning) must be in-person learning. (Synchronous eLearning does not apply for these remaining thirty (30) hours.)
A portion of these hours in sexuality counseling training may be in general counseling (e.g., undergraduate or graduate courses in theory and methods of counseling), but at least thirty (30) hours must be in sexuality counseling. Sexuality counseling training may have been obtained through academic (college or university) credit courses, workshops or practicum experiences.
Applicants are required to document at least three (3) hours in each content area listed below, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one content area A – F below.
Sexuality counseling training is to include but not be limited to the following:
A. Theory and methods of personal/individual counseling.
B. Theory and methods of sexuality counseling approaches to specific populations (e.g., youth, older adult, couples, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, ethnic/ cultural/ faith-based populations).
C. Theory and methods of different approaches to intervention in relationship systems.
D. Theory and methods of decision-making concerning sexually related medical interventions.
E. Ethical issues in sexuality counseling.
F. Theory and practice of consultation, collaboration, and referral.
Note: The difference between the requirements in 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 sexuality counseling. 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 ten (10) clock hours of structured group experience in which the major focus is on 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)]. The applicant must have been an attendee in the SAR and not been functioning as facilitator or co-facilitator in any capacity.
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.
It is strongly preferred that the SAR be AASECT sponsored or approved. The applicant will submit, in English, a one-page comprehensive statement of his/her professional philosophy and goals of sexuality education, including how the SAR affected that philosophy.
VIII. Clinical Experience, Field Work, or Practicum Training Experience
Supervised sexuality counseling experience is the crux of certification. It is the counseling milieu where competence is demonstrated. The applicant shall have completed a minimum of providing one hundred (100) hours of supervised sexuality counseling. Sexuality Counseling shall have been conducted in one or more various settings such as the following: medical offices and clinics, human service agencies, community and public health clinics, family planning centers, rape crisis centers, college and universities, schools, professional schools and religious institutions. This experience will have included observation, demonstrations of counseling techniques, role-playing and the development of communication skills. The applicant will have been exposed to a variety of human sexuality issues. This supervised experience may have been obtained prior to or following the receipt of the terminal degree.
The applicant will be an AASECT member in good standing before starting supervision.
The applicant shall have completed a minimum of thirty (30) hours of supervision with an AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselor Supervisor or an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor. Minimum duration of supervision shall be twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months. Total number of supervision hours that will count towards certification will not exceed six (6) hours per month.
In order to open a file for the Sexuality Counselor Supervisee, a Supervision Contract outlining the plan for supervision and signed by both Supervisor and Supervisee, will be submitted to the AASECT office and approved by the Practitioner Supervisor Certification Committee PRIOR to commencement of individual or group supervision. Applicants whose Supervisor does not submit a Supervision Contract in advance to open a file will have their applications returned. Supervision hours accrued prior to or without a contract on file in the AASECT office will NOT count toward certification. Contracts are necessary for individual and for group supervision.
The supervisory process will have had continuity, and be a systematic learning experience. The goal of supervision will have been directed toward the further development of professionalism by the emphasis upon the enhancement of counseling skills and the continuation of the educative process. Supervision should also encourage the further development of the applicant's body of knowledge, community resources for information and referral networking, and experience in short term counseling.
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. The time that each group meets should be equivalent to one (1) hour per each supervisee. If there are four (4) supervisees, the group should then meet for four (4) hours, credited as GROUP supervision hours. If the group meets for three (3) hours with three (3) supervisees, each supervisee will be credited with three (3) hours of group supervision time. Supervision sessions are not permitted to last for more than four (4) hours per session.
The following DO NOT meet the Supervision requirements of AASECT:
A. Personal psychotherapy or counseling.
B. A process that is primarily didactic, such as a workshop or seminar, where teaching is focused on material other than the raw data of the supervisor'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.
Documents Required for a Contract: Guidelines for Supervision
X. Application Process and Approval Process
To submit by mail:
In addition to the appropriate application fee ($300), which is non-refundable, the candidate will submit one copy, in English, one-sided (no binding or staples) of the following:
A. Completed formal AASECT Sexuality Counselor Certification Application, signed and dated.
B. An official transcript from program(s) where degree(s) were earned (Item III).
C. Official transcripts, attendance certificates, syllabi, etc., documenting ninety (90) hours of education in the designated Core Knowledge areas of human sexuality (Item V).
D. Official transcripts, attendance certificates, syllabi and other credible evidence documenting sixty (60) hours of training in sexuality counseling that includes the designated areas of focus (Item VI).
E. Official documentation of participation in a structured group experience focusing on sexual attitudes and values e.g., a SAR (Item VII).
F. Endorsement form letter(s) from supervisor(s) certifying a minimum of one hundred (100) hours of sexuality counseling experience (Item VIII).
G. Endorsements must be received from the following persons on the appropriate forms:
1. An AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselor Supervisor or Sex Therapist Supervisor attesting to the applicant's supervised counseling experience.
2. A professional colleague who can comment on the applicant's professional responsibilities, professional ethics and overall ability as a sexuality counselor.
3. A character reference from someone outside the applicant's immediate work setting, from someone who has known the applicant for a minimum of two (2) or more years (example: former teacher, former employer or employee, clergy member, someone with whom the applicant has had a working relationship). Do not use family members or significant others, relatives, personal friends, business partners.
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 Sexuality Counselor 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.
A. All certified members are required to comply with the ethical standards established by AASECT as expressed in the AASECT Code of Ethics.
B. Upon approval from the Sexuality Counselor Certification Committee, the successful applicant will receive a certificate in recognition of having met AASECT requirements for certification in the area of Sexuality Counseling. This certificate will be subject to renewal every three (3) years, with renewals following in three (3) year increments.
C. Each AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselor 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 Sexuality Counselor Certification are:
• Ten (10) 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 Sexuality Counseling***; thirty (30) of these sixty (60) hours can be via eLearning.
*SAR (10 hours)
It is strongly preferred that the SAR 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 Sexuality Counseling (60 hours)
Sexuality counseling training may have been obtained through university/college credit courses, , workshops, practicum experiences. A minimum of sixty (60) clock hours is required of which thirty (30) hours can be through eLearning.
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.
- 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 book, each book has to be about a completely different sexual related topic.
- 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.
- 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.
- Master’s thesis about some aspect of human sexuality. Up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits.
- Doctoral dissertation about some aspect of human sexuality. Up to fifteen (15) AASECT CE Credits.
- 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.
- 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.