No, sex therapists do not touch patients, or demonstrate sexual techniques or positions.
So then, what is the role of a sex therapist?
What comes to mind when you first think of a sex therapist?
If it’s anything like the therapists in “Meet the Fockers”, “Grey’s Anatomy” or anything with “Goop” in the title…you may be mistaken for what a sex therapist truly is.
So what is a sex therapist?!
A sex therapist is a therapist.
They do not touch their patients.
They are trained in psychotherapy and must have at least a master’s degree in psychology, social work, or counseling.
They are not physicians or physiotherapists and therefore do not examine patients or provide treatment for the physical aspects of sexual dysfunction, as a medical professional would.
Sex therapists are trained to address the psychological, social, and relational aspects of sexuality and sexual functioning.
While sex therapists offer psychoeducation and behavioral tools, therapy often requires deeper processing of both individual and relational experiences, and as such, sex therapy is like any individual psychotherapy or couples therapy process.
Sexual issues exist in a context that requires the skill and training of a competent mental health professional. This context may include anxiety or depression, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, marital conflict, or unresolved trauma.
Certification by the ISST, the Israel Society for Sex Therapy, requires, in addition to the above, completing an approved Human Sexuality studies program, a clinical internship in a recognized sex therapy clinic, provision of 400 hours of therapy plus 200 hours of supervision, supervisors letters of recommendation and commitment to a strict code of ethics. AASECT, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, require similar stringent conditions for certification.
Unfortunately, there are many people who call themselves sex therapists who do not have this training.
Sexuality courses designed for premarital instructors, coaches, kallah teachers, rabbis or educators, are important and welcome but they do not produce sex therapists.
Alternative healers, bodyworkers, tantra practitioners, and yoga therapists may have much to offer, these are the type of practitioners depicted on TV, but they are not sex therapists, and they may or may not practice in accordance with a code of ethics.
Beware and be aware.