6 Sexology Credentials You Need to Know About

When you dedicate your professional life to working with human sexuality, you know from the beginning that you are working with a lightning rod topic. Have you ever been at a party, and someone casually asks you what you do? When you answer that you are a sex educator, a sex coach, a sex therapist, have you noticed how ears perk up around the room? People are fascinated, and people are opinionated. Like everything to do with the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, everyone has an opinion, and their own private battles, with sex.

We’re also still in the formative stages of an emerging trend — we’re seeing today the explosion in sex related information becoming available to the public at large. We’re seeing a proliferation of helping professionals specializing in sexual concerns. We’re seeing more people undertaking study of sexology in depth and building their knowledge beyond their own experience. Never before has the science of sexology and the knowledge it produces been more available to more people.

This is an extremely positive development. It means that people no longer need to suffer in silence alone. With the Internet in more homes around the world every year, even proximity is no longer a factor — people can access expert advice from professionals worldwide from the comfort of their own homes.

The other side of this coin, though, is that in this field terms are generally not regulated and standards of education vary. This means that, currently, anyone can call themselves a sex educator, a sex coach, or even a sex therapist. What we see now is highly educated and well trained professionals, mixed together under the same professional designators as pick-up artists and folks that have watched a couple of TED talks and decided that they are a sex expert.

This means that, if you are a human sexuality professional, there has never been a more important time to have credentials. You have invested a lot of time and money to develop competency in understanding sexual concerns and working with clients, and you have every right to want to set yourself apart from those that have not. It is therefore essential that you are aware of the sexology credentials available today, and have the information you need to decide which credentials are appropriate for you.

Here is an overview of 6 important sexology credentials available to human sexuality professionals today:

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) Certification

AASECT certification has become the most recognized sexology certification worldwide. Four levels of certification are offered — Certified Sexuality Educator, Certified Sexuality Counselor, Certified Sex Therapist, and Supervisor. AASECT has earned this status through the rigor and standards set by their certification process, and this is one credential that all professional sexologists should consider if it is appropriate for them.

To become AASECT certified, all levels of certification require the following:

  • Membership in AASECT and agreement with their Code of Ethics
  • Documented academic and relevant professional experience
  • 90 hours of study in the core knowledge of human sexuality
  • 60 hours of specialist training in Sexuality Education, Counseling, or Sex Therapy
  • 10 hours of Sexual Attitude Reassessment & Restructuring (SAR) training
  • 100–300 hours of supervised clinical practice

For many human sexuality professionals that do not work as sexuality counselors or sex therapists, AASECT Sexuality Educator certification is one way to demonstrate significant professional achievement. Certified Sexuality Educators often work as sex coaches, sex bloggers, pleasure product professionals, workshop leaders, and even as clergy, in addition to work in the classroom.

To learn more, and to begin your application for AASECT certification, check out their Certification Overview today.

The American College of Sexologists (ACS) Certification

The American College of Sexologists offers a variety of certifications, depending on an individual’s specific training and area of specialization. Board certification is available for Sexologists, which requires a doctoral or terminal degree from an accredited or approved institution of higher learning. ACS certification is also available for Sex Educators, Somatic Sexuality Specialists, and Sexual Health Specialists, among others.

One of the real strengths of ACS certification is the multiple different pathways to certified status. In this respect, ACS recognizes the many routes to professional competence and practice in the varied specialisms within sexology.

To become ACS certified, all levels of certification require one of the following, plus the submission of a complete application:

  • Transcript, Diploma or Certificate of Graduation from an Academic Program focused on the study of one of the certification areas (to be approved by the ACS Board of Examiners); or
  • Transcript(s) documenting 300 hours of academic training related to the field of Sexology, Sex Education, Erotology, Somatic Sexuality, Tantra & Spirituality, Alternative Lifestyles, Adult Toys & Novelties, and Erotic Filmography; or
  • Documentation of two years of full-time work as a Sexologist, Sex Educator, Academician or Researcher in the field of one of the certification areas; or
  • Life experiences such as filmmaking, author of books, blogs, articles, adult toy retailers, pleasure party consultant and entrepreneurial endeavors. (Eligibility for academic credit based on life experience will be determined at the discretion of the ACS)

Following 9 years of membership in good standing, ACS certified members can apply for a Diplomatic Membership, an advanced level of certification that demonstrates professional commitment to the field of sexology and wellbeing. This requires documentation of work and accomplishments in the field since original certification. Diplomates of the ACS are able to use “DACS” following their name to signify Diplomatic status.

World Association of Sex Coaches (WASC) Certification

The World Association of Sex Coaches (WASC) is the premier certifying body for sex coaches worldwide. The World Association of Sex Coaches is unique, and is the first organization to certify sex coaching as its own profession. Sex coaches are sexologists that work with clients using a coaching modality, rather than a therapy or counseling modality. The term sex coach is unregulated, meaning that anyone can call themselves a sex coach. The profession, however, demands a high standard of knowledge and experience of both sexology and coaching. WASC was established to address this issue and begin assuring professional standards globally.

You have two paths to becoming a World Association of Sex Coaches certified sex coach:

  • Receive a comprehensive foundational training in sex coaching as its own profession. Currently, the only WASC approved training provider for comprehensive sex coach training is Sex Coach University.
  • If you have already received training in sexology and coaching separately, you can apply for WASC certification. You must complete the application form, as well as a brief application interview with a member of WASC staff.

Recognizing that sex coaching is a new profession, and the many pathways to sex coach training, the key criteria considered for WASC certification are:

  • Overall educational attainment
  • Sexology knowledge & training, including hours of training
  • Coaching knowledge & training, including hours of training and a supervised practicum
  • Sexual Attitude Reassessment & Restructuring (SAR) training
  • Personal commitment to and passion for the profession
  • Commitment to the WASC Code of Ethics

The World Association of Sex Coaches, in addition to certifying sex coaches, also welcomes the membership of sex therapists, sex counselors, sex educators, and allied professionals who embrace the Association’s Code of Ethics. Find out more about how to apply for WASC certification today.

Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) Designation

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) formed in 1997 with the aim of fighting for sexual freedom and privacy rights for adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior. Today, NCSF has over 50 Coalition Partners, over 100 Supporting Members, and over the years has formed alliances with other organizations that defend sexual freedom rights, including the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators, Councelors, and Therapists (AASECT), Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others.

A key program of the NCSF since 2005 has been maintaining an online directory of Kink Aware Professionals. While sexologists and sexuality professionals are listed, the directory includes an incredible diversity of professionals — from accountants to doctors to realtors. The Kink Aware Professional designation signals to clients that a professional is accepting of diverse sexualities, forms of sexual expression, and sexual communities. The Kink Aware Professionals directory has grown to include over 800 professionals in the United States, Canada, and worldwide.

To receive the Kink Aware Professional designation, the following is required:

Once listed, Kink Aware Professionals can display on their own websites this status and membership, to show clearly their acceptance of diversity.

Association of Somatic & Integrative Sexologists (ASIS) Certification

The Association of Somatic and Integrative Sexologists (ASIS) was formed to build awareness about the profession of somatic sexology, and to provide professional criteria for practitioners working in the field. Somatic sexologists embrace and support healing touch in a practitioner’s clinical work, which is a sensitive topic among sexologists and cause for much debate. Some certifying organizations in sexology, including AASECT, do not allow touch in their Code of Ethics. However, you do not need to practice touch as part of your clinical work in order to receive ASIS certification — talk only professionals are accepted, too.

Uniquely, a key benefit to ASIS certification and membership, for members based in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and most of Europe, is access to specially tailored insurance. Insurance is available to Professional Members of ASIS, and offers coverage worldwide, excluding the USA and Canada.

Each application for membership in ASIS is viewed as a whole and taken on its own merits.

Generally, to receive ASIS certification as a Professional Member, you must:

  • Complete a foundational training program from the list of recognized programs, though other qualifications will be considered, too
  • Commit to the Aims and Objectives of ASIS and follow the ASIS Code of Conduct
  • Work with clients on issues related to sex and intimacy, and recognise the holistic nature of your work
  • Join an “ASIS Circle” to offer and receive peer group support
  • If required, offer mediation support to the ASIS Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure

ASIS states that it “is dedicated to enhancing people’s lives through supporting individuals to achieve their full potential of sexual embodiment.” You can begin the process toward ASIS certification by applying on the ASIS website.

American Board of Sexology (ABS) Diplomate Status

The American Board of Sexology was founded in 1986, and includes among its membership (past and present) many of the world’s leading sexologists. Some of the first sexologists to receive board certification included Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Dr. William Masters, Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan, and Dr. Albert Ellis. A key aim of ABS was to make the certification of sexologists less subjective, making decisions instead by following a set process to evaluate candidates. A critical component of successful ABS certification is educational and professional attainment.

ABS certification results in having Diplomate status with the Board. To be certified as a Diplomate, you must:

  • Hold a doctoral or terminal degree in your chosen field from an accredited or approved institution
  • Complete 120 hours of core clinical courses
  • Complete 1 year of professional work and 50 hours of supervision
  • Receive 2 endorsements from current diplomates
  • Pass an examination based on the text An Outline of Sexology: A Core Curriculum

Certification must be renewed every 3 years. To begin the process of ABS certification, begin by getting a copy of the application form.

Only you can decide on the mix of certifications and designations most appropriate to your clinical work, your clients, and your career. What is becoming more clear for all human sexuality professionals is that our once small community of sexologists is beginning to expand at an astonishing rate. It is now more important than ever to claim the value of your education, training, and experience.

Together, competent sexuality professionals around the world will continue to have a lasting impact on client lives, and in protecting and preserving the sexual rights of people worldwide. Let’s take a stand for competency and standards in our field!

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.