A lot of people that reach out to us want to know the differences between sex therapy and traditional therapy or counseling. To most consumers there doesn't appear to be a difference at all. However, this is not the case. There are many distinguishing characteristics that are important for consumers to consider when deciding on a therapist. A more extensive explanation has been provided in one of our blog posts entitled "What are the Differences Between Sex Therapy and Traditional Therapy?"
Sex therapists first need education and experience with couples therapy. One cannot do adequate sex therapy without such a building block as a lot of sex therapy is relational in nature. This can be done through formal education during graduate school or informally through advanced training, conferences, independent reading and on-site clinical experience and supervision. Graduate programs that focus on couples therapy are well suited to provide this requisite building block for a sex therapist. If no formal experience is obtain, on-site clinical experience is vital as this is where couples therapy theory and training are put into action. Many couples therapy cases are required. Additionally, there needs to be supervision from a well trained and seasoned couples therapist.
In addition to this couples therapy building block, a sex therapist must obtain a certain level of preliminary education, clinical experience, and supervision of sex therapy. The therapist can gain this preliminary building block during graduate school, however most graduate programs are not designed for such. The sex therapist in training could also gain this preliminary building block through advanced training, conferences, independent reading and on-site clinical experience and supervision. However, it is imperative that the on-site experience provides adequate sex therapy cases, education, and supervision. Most clinics are not designed to do so and most supervisors are not trained in sex therapy.
Upon completion of these two aforementioned building blocks of couples therapy and preliminary sex therapy education, clinical experience, and supervision, the sex therapist is ready for their final and ongoing building block. This last building block is that of ongoing continuing sex therapy specific education, clinical work, and supervision/consultation. Sex therapists will make these an active part of their professional and clinical work.