Conventional Psychotherapy vs. a Certified Sex Therapist (CST)

Human sexuality is one of the most complex, interesting, and sometimes difficult parts of the human experience that can be an important reason to see a sex therapist. How we feel about our bodies, our connection with a romantic partner, and any past attachment wounds or experiences all play a profound role in our lives. If you are needing help processing emotions related to your sexuality, therapy can help tremendously.

What kind of professional should you seek out for these kinds of issues? A licensed psychotherapist can offer some insight into improving one’s sexual confidence, yet a Certified Sex Therapist (CST) has more specific training in helping individuals and couples identify and resolve a variety of sexual challenges.

So what is a CST exactly? A certified sex therapist is a psychotherapist who helps clients uncover, understand, and heal from problems related to sexuality. CSTs must complete 3000 hours of clinical work with 250 hours of supervision before being certified by the American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). This is akin to an MD who is trained in a specific field of medicine after residency.

What Does Counseling with a Certified Sex Therapist Look Like?

Going to “sex therapy” can seem intimidating or a little odd to those unfamiliar with the process, so it’s good to clear up any confusion or misunderstanding about what actually takes place. Working with a CST is strictly talk therapy in an office setting, and a CST will maintain professional boundaries at all times. Clients are often given “homework” in the form of take-home exercises to help increase their comfort level and strengthen their connection with a partner or one self.

Usually, initial counseling with a CST will involve the client(s) sharing their thoughts, fears, struggles, questions, and goals concerning their sexuality. From that point, the therapist will help the individual or couple explore certain aspects of sex that have been confusing or difficult. Due to the tender nature of the topic, a good CST will be sensitive to the clients’ feelings and comfort level even as they talk about things that can sometimes be uncomfortable.

The overarching goal of working with a certified sex therapy is for the individual(s) to understand that sexuality is part of the tapestry of the human psyche and not some separate aspect of it.