Sex Advice

Dear Dr. Locker: How can someone find and choose a sex therapist?

Answer from Dr. Locker


Choosing the best therapist for you is about choosing someone you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you. There are some things that you should always look for. You should choose a sex therapist who:

* is trained specifically in sex therapy (not just marital therapy, family therapy or general therapy)

* is certified in sex therapy by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists

* has a Ph.D. in sex therapy or a closely related field from a nationally accredited university, or has an MD (I will explain this more later)

* has an established practice, and has been seeing sex therapy clients for years

* does NOT go on television or radio on a regular basis, and does not primarily write books. Even if a sex therapist on the Today show, or a sex therapist on Oprah seems appealing, please realize that that person is not someone who should be your sex therapist. This is not a dedicated full time sex therapist. You should go to an actual full time therapist only

* is open to talking with you on the phone the first time you call, and will describe to you what to expect during your first session

Each session usually is between 45 minutes and 1 hour long. Most often, people see a sex therapist once a week, yet you may require more frequent or less frequent visits, depending on your situation. Sex therapy may last for weeks, or months, or years; this also depends on the situations presented. Fees for sex therapy are usually around $150 per hour, yet may be as low as $50 per hour, or as high as $350 per hour. It depends on the therapist and the location. Your health insurance may or may not cover sex therapy, depending on your policy. If your insurance does not cover, some sex therapists may reduced their rates for people who do not have the means to pay, so always ask if their rates are "negotiable" or "on a sliding scale."

Most importantly, find a sex therapist you are comfortable talking with. You will be discussing intimate details of your life, so you should feel as if you trust the sex therapist, and can open up to him or her.


For referrals to sex therapists in your area, go to the web site for the American Association of Sex Educators Counselors and Therapists. This is the organization that certifies sex therapists. The site is: From the main page, click on "For the Public". Then click on "Locate a Professional". Then click on your state on the map or list show. Then when you see the list of names of people on the left and their occupation on the right-- make sure that you choose a sex THERAPIST (not a sex counselor, not a sex educator).

Also, only choose someone who has an MD (a medical doctor or psychiatrist who is a sex therapist) or Ph.D. from a nationally accredited university (someone who is a psychotherapist, clinical psychologist, or therapist). In my opinion, you should not choose someone whose Ph.D. is from a locally accredited, or non-accredited institution, such as the "Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality" or "Maimonides American Academy of Clinical Sexologists" or "Newport University". These are NOT nationally accredited Ph.D. programs. Those are private nontraditional programs that may be accredited locally or on a state level, but not nationally. You should only choose a therapist who has an MD or Ph.D. from a nationally accredited university. (There are hundreds of nationally accredited universities, but just to give you examples of what I mean by "nationally accredited university" some examples include: New York University, University of California at San Diego, Harvard University, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, Teachers College, Columbia University... you get the idea.)

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