Originally published in April 2020, updated February 2021
When we look at the field of sex coaching, we’re really looking at two distinct industries or professions: clinical sexology and coaching. Did you know neither of these requires licensure to practice, and both are unregulated industries globally? That opens the door to practices that may be inappropriate, unethical, or ignorant. There is no oversight to protect consumers.
When the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco was founded, a key focus was the protection of consumers. They even obtained their authorization from the Bureau of Consumer Affairs, rather than the California Department of Education. Their focal point was always the protection of consumers as the ultimate outcome and goal.
As a pioneer of sex coaching and a thought leader in sexology, I see the marketplace as a dangerous climate for consumers. Worldwide, anyone can merely hang a shingle or make a claim as a sex coach and/or a sexologist and be working with real live people, with no solid training from reputable institutions, and no certification attesting to their knowledge or skills.
Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware
There are a huge number of untrained (or under-trained) and unqualified sex coaches in the world. Some are frauds, some are scams, but many consider themselves experts for various reasons: Bloggers, writers, people who have had numerous sexual partners, those who have worked in the adult industry, and people who have overcome negative wounding to their erotic core. Because of their experiences, they confidently believe they’re capable of assisting others.
“Just because you’re a victim doesn’t make you an expert,” said Dr. Marty Klein, during his keynote address at a national sexuality conference a few years ago. I agree with him. While it is courageous and commendable to want to use your experience as a way to help others, it’s important to remember this.
Let’s face it: Sexuality is layered, complex, and deep. It goes to the essential fabric of what it means to be human and is foundational and essential to humanity. Using the MEBES© model I developed, I train people to address the whole person, which means applying systems, models, and frameworks of effectiveness. It takes knowledge, skills, and practice, as well as supervised expertise, to work with real people as clients, addressing their sexual needs.
In my work, one of my goals is to avert the “Humpty Dumpty Effect.” It’s one of my pet peeves and driving forces in teaching people at Sex Coach U and other live trainings. As professionals working with clients and consumers, I believe we should always avoid committing the crime of opening someone up without having the wherewithal to help put them back together when they fall apart.
Do you see how problematic and potentially damaging it can be when someone claiming to be a “sex coach” doesn’t have appropriate, comprehensive training and the credentials that attest to that qualification?
Recently, I spoke with Sarah Martin, Executive Director of the World Association of Sex Coaches, about the importance of getting the right credentials. Watch our conversation below.
What Credentials Can Sex Coaches Obtain?
There are different kinds of credentials you can earn. They can be as simple as certification in coaching, sexological bodywork, or another relevant practice in the broad realm of sexuality.
There are academic credentials (college degree, or advanced degree in a relevant field, such as family therapy, or a PhD or EdD in a relevant field, education that specializes in sexuality curriculum, or PsyD in Sexology).
Many sex coaches have medical degrees (RN, Naturopathic Doctor, MD, DO, acupuncturist, chiropractor or other allied professionals that have credentials if not licensure).
Others have achieved a variety of business degrees or certifications.
Primarily, we’re looking at organizational certifications. These are a natural next step in your ongoing sex coach training and a fantastic way to add credibility in the earlier stages of your career.
Every graduate of Sex Coach U is automatically eligible to become a member of the World Association of Sex Coaches (WASC), which also includes allied sex professionals who pass rigorous standards.
SCU graduates are automatically eligible to become certified as Clinical Sexologists by the American College of Sexologists International (ACS or ACSI).
These two credentials (from WASC and ACS) attest you have acquired what you need to know to do this work and you have met their global standards of practice. This alone gives you more credibility than many practicing individuals will ever seek out.
Other organizations a sex coach might consider joining and/or getting certified by include the American Board of Sexology, which used to have equivalent value to the American College of Sexologists, but has waned in its recognition over the past several years.
Another prominent organization in the field is, of course, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), which has extremely rigorous standards for the certification of educators, counselors, and therapists working in the broad field of sexology.
AASECT certification is restricted to United States citizens. However, Sex Coach U is a global organization with students and graduates in over 72 countries and counting.
Therefore, we are proud to be recognized as an organizational member of the World Association of Sexual Health (WAS). As an enrolled student or graduate, you become a member of this incredible international organization under our membership umbrella.
You may still apply for AASECT certification, but you’ll need to consult them about their requirements and whether or not your studies at Sex Coach U will qualify. We do not guarantee AASECT certification will be granted as a result of completion of the Core Certified Sex Coach™ training program.
AASECT certification is awarded on a case-by-case basis, according to a candidate’s background and whether they meet the highly-rigorous AASECT criteria. Learn more here.
Sex Coach U graduates also qualify for fast-tracked membership in the Association of Somatic and Integrative Sexologists (ASIS).
In addition, there are other organizations for which SCU graduates may wish to apply for membership. Becoming a member of one of these organizations means that you meet their standards, so membership confers a credential that can round out your resume and illustrate your expertise.
Each of the following organizations for sexuality professionals has their own qualification standards that Sex Coach U graduates may or may not be able to achieve from our training alone. These include:
- The Somatic Sex Educators Association (SSEA)
- The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS, also called “Quad S”)
- The Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR)
- The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
- The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM)
Sex coaches who integrate and embrace bodywork in their practice may also want to obtain credentals from organizations such as the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA), the Institute for Mind Body Therapy, or the Association of Certified Sexological Bodyworkers (ACSB).
Credentialing Bodies Require Ethical Practice
Earning a certification not only attests to your knowledge and skills, but it also affirms that you practice ethically.
At Sex Coach U, we employ a Triadic Training Model, where we train, certify and credential you in the three key areas of clinical sexology, coactive coaching, and our Integrated Sex Coaching courses, which synthesize and extend what you learn in the sexology and coaching courses. Our program also includes an in-depth business and marketing success component, specifically designed to help sex coaches develop and maintain a sex positive business in this sex negative world. This approach ensures you are fully prepared to serve your client population AND to thrive in business as soon as you graduate.
Integral to our approach is a commitment to ethical practice. We uphold the ethical standards cited on our website. And we require a course on ethical standards of practice in sex coaching as part of our core curriculum.
We also take great pride in upholding our core values: authenticity, professionalism, diversity, a service orientation, integrity, a comprehensive approach, a sexological perspective, sustainability of the profession, durability of our mission, and global cross-cultural reach.
In summary, credentials do matter. You owe it to your target audience and to consumers in general to be qualified, prepared, ethical, well trained, well positioned, to be of the highest service possible to contribute to the sexual healing of the whole world that needs us now more than ever.