How to Become a Sex Educator, Therapist, Researcher or Sexologist

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 16:22
Submitted by Betty Dodson

The most common course for entering the field of sexuality is usually the study of psychology. However, many sex researchers, educators, therapists and sexologists have had backgrounds in medicine, sociology and nursing to name a few. One of our best sex researchers Alfred Kinsey was an entomologist studying gall wasps.

Alex Comfort the author of The Joy of Sex was a zoologist. Some sex educators have studied Eastern teachings of Tanta and Taoist religions or they began their careers working in sex stores or had backgrounds in the Adult Industry. My schooling was the study of fine art. So there are many paths to become involved in the field of human sexuality.

Earning a degree in psychology and getting certified as a sex therapist can be beneficial but also restrictive if you want to stray from the traditional path. In my opinion, words alone won’t solve the problem of teaching sexual skills. We learn how to dance by dancing. As an artist, I learned how to draw by drawing. My Ph.D. in clinical sexology came from The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco (IASHS), a private school offering advanced degrees in Sexuality.

I was in my early sixties when I got my degree. It was based upon my twenty years of field work with the masturbation workshops I ran for women, a book I’d written on female masturbation and a video documentary I produced based upon the workshops. All of that happened long before I had any credentials as a sexuality educator. I was simply a brazen feminist determined to change how society viewed female sexuality by liberating masturbation. It was a humorous statement I often made . . ."I'm going to award myself a Ph.D. in masturbation!

What I like best about the field of sexology is that it’s considered descriptive, not prescriptive: It attempts to document reality, not to prescribe what behavior is suitable, ethical, or moral. I have never wanted to be a licensed sex therapist as it would actually prohibit hands-on Sex Coaching. Any therapist that physically touches a client can lose her license. That law and the litigious nature of many have kept people fearful of including touch in the therapeutic process. Personally I feel touch becomes essential for sexual healing.

The one exception to the no-touch rule is the use of a surrogate partner under the supervision of a licensed therapist certified by AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists). Surrogacy is primarily done with a woman trained to work with a male client in tandem with his therapist. Due to our sexual double standard, there are very few male surrogate partners for women. In a sense, the way I teach masturbation skills to individual women could be seen as a form of surrogacy. Except I teach my client how to have sex with herself. Once she learns about her own sexual responses, she can share that information with her partner(s). To date, there has been no precedent established for the practice of surrogacy or Sex Coaching, so they still remain in gray areas.

Recently Widener University in PA has a new Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Human Sexuality. This decision returns the Ph.D. degree program in Human Sexuality that started at the University of Pennsylvania 35 years ago. The University of Minnesota also has an excellent program that offers advanced degrees. For more educational opportunities, check out Quad S, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Just recently, a new venue for the study of sexuality opened up in Hartford CT. Institute for Sexuality Education, Enrichment, and Enlightenment. (ISEEE)

As you continue your schooling, hopefully you will also focus on enjoying your own sexuality. I believe experience has been one of my best teachers. I encourage everyone who has a desire to become a sex educator to do so. An important part of our planets future will depend upon educating people about the pleasurable aspects of human sexuality in addition to the mechanics of pro-creation.

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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Sexology courses

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 21:26
Emily (not verified)

In Australia, Curtin University in WA offers three undergrad classes in Sexology (as well as masters and doctorates). I did the first undergrad class last year, and it was the best class I have ever taken. Sexology is a great area of study because it is so versatile, it covers so much and whatever background you have, it can be applied.

Thank you for the

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 22:25
Palesa (not verified)

Thank you for the information. The site is under construction, so the link is not working. The homepage is accessible.

Thanks Betty

JoshSharp's picture
Wed, 01/26/2011 - 10:39

Thanks for the info Betty.  I too have wondered this question to myself.  I think my passion on this subject is mostly born out of the observance of the good that can come to those lives that explore sexual healing.  Mine and my wife's lives have been transformed and continue toward peace and joy.  I think/feel that I'd love to share that with as many people as will be willing to work for liberation.  I have been on the fence about getting credentials, or if they are neccesary.  This post was helpful.

I love you all.  Keep up the good work.  May you all experience Light in your lives.

I was waiting for an article

Wed, 01/26/2011 - 11:59
Christina Cicchelli (not verified)

I was waiting for an article like this from you ;) My memory's hazy but I remembered you were talking to me about your work experience so it's awesome to see all of that wonderful advice and shared knowledge expanded here.
I'm actually going back to school for forensic psychology to complete my bachelors and masters, then my phd. My hope is to expand upon these credentials to serve the criminal court system but also to provide counseling, especially when it comes to sex addiction and compulsive behaviors :) So it's certainly a very different approach from that of a sex therapist or sexologist or surrogate. That said, the latter three also work on different levels too. But overall these professions are at work (or at least supposed to be) to achieve a greater good when it comes to sexuality, and their different functions can all help to educate and encourage healthier sexual lifestyles and choices.
I have a question: Hypothetically, Betty, if therapists were free to use healing touch without fear of losing their license, how would you see this changing the relationship between the therapist and the patient? Do you believe that this type of openness could lead to better (or worse) sessions between a therapist and her client?

Hey Chris

Betty Dodson's picture
Wed, 01/26/2011 - 12:45

Adding touch would not be good in all situations, so it would depend on the therapist and the client. The no touch rule happened back in the sixties (I believe) following a series of women being seduced by their male therapists. There is always going to be some jerk who can't keep it in his pants, but I think it's over kill now.

Personally I believe some therapists create a dependency on the part of the client instead of releasing out into the world. Maybe it doesn't happen that much these days, but back in the 50's and 60's I had friends in therapy for 10 and 15 years. Most of us just need an committed listener to hear us so we can figure things out for ourselves. When it comes to sex, I feel "talk teach" is often inadequate. That's why so many therapists send a client to see me or recommend a workshop that includes some form of touching. Good luck on your formal education to get credentials. Your experience gives you a wealth of knowledge.

Having good, great, sex

Wed, 01/26/2011 - 22:06
lsjbaby (not verified)

Having good, great, sex requires a lot more than genitals and an instruction manual -- even a vibe.
Those who treat people for inhibition to have sex, to love, to orgasm, have to treat the whole individual.  If we can't touch, learning a skill or using  a toy, won't ultimately cure the problem. 
We, who teach, look for a combination of the practical and the psychological, philosophical.  
If there is the financial capability to employ a mind coach and a body coach, yay.But then, if the mind coach and the body coach, don't share and work together -- no lasting peace, in my opinion anyway.
If you need to learn a sexual skill, like orgasm, read Betty's book -- best guide there is. If you need to be sexually skilled with a partner and can't -- see a good therapist

A sexologist learns about the history of sex and sexuality. A sex therapist gives homework assignments to deal with specific dysfunctions. A marital and sex therapist coordinates the two sides of the problem.
The homework may be on target but doesn't get done if the work on early childhood experiences and imprinting is not also explored.
I didn't do all this education for nothing.  There is no simple answer. I say don't look for the short cuts in your training. Do it all. Otherwise, don't play with people's insecurities and suffering.

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