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The 5 Steps to Becoming an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

In 2015, the Northwest Institute on Intimacy was founded to make accessible cost-effective and time-efficient high-quality sexuality training and therapy in the Pacific Northwest. Their goal was to raise the bar in the fields of psychotherapy, which typically ignored sexuality and intimacy and to further the field of sex therapy, by training therapists to be sex-positive, comprehensively trained providers of the couples and individuals they serve in their office and through tele-health services.

There are many important reasons a therapist would want to get training in Sex Therapy, and NWIOI helps make the process succinct and clear. We will break down the AASECT certification process into 5 easy steps below.

Step 1: Enroll or have graduated from a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program, or another systems-based psychotherapy program.

If you are an MSW, psychologist or counselor don’t fret, you only need to complete additional training in couples therapy such as EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), David Schnarch’s Crucible Therapy or study The Gottman Method. MFT is the recommended path to get the most out of this, since much of your graduate training will simultaneously satisfy your AASECT educational requirements.

Step 2: Complete the first weekend of training by participating in the S.A.R. course (sexual attitude reassessment).

Many people think that you have to have a master’s degree before you can begin your AASECT educational training - but that is actually not the case! You can begin your AASECT coursework prior to posting your masters/PhD or getting your license.

The Northwest Institute on Intimacy provides a SAR each June. In 2020, we moved the course online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, we may provide this course in person dependent upon state guidelines. This course provides 21 CEU’s.

NWIOI will hold our SAR in June 2021. Dates TBD.

Step 3: Complete a weeklong intensive training by taking the Advanced Course in Clinical Sexology. 

Each November, NWIOI holds a weeklong intensive in Clinical Sexology. This course deeply explores many different aspects of human sexuality, evidence-based treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions, and provides you with a community of like-minded, sex positive therapists, and other clinicians.

Due to the pandemic, this course will be held online this year from November 9-13, 2020. We are inviting any therapist who takes this intensive, the chance to return for a refresher when we hold the course in person any year until 2023, at no cost.

For more information and to sign up visit:

NWIOI is committed to supporting clinicians, educators, counselors, and healers who identify as people of color by providing an award towards tuition for our courses.

We are extending an $700 award for our upcoming Advanced Course to all BIPOC who apply and would like to attend this virtual training and are in the process of adjusting this award for all our other courses as well.

This course provides 46 CEUs (this is a semester course in 5 days with some coursework occuring the month prior and following the in-class activity)

Step 4: Complete 50 hours of post-graduate supervision and 300 client contact hours of sex therapy casework.

This is broken in two – 50% individual supervision/50% group supervision. Group supervision occurs in small groups of 2-4 people, and individual supervision is one on one with your supervisor. These 50 hours can occur in as little as 18 months. This supervision will be overseeing the required 300 hours of sex therapy. Supervision can occur in person, but often occurs on zoom.

The Institute offers supervision with our medical director, Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD.  There are other supervisors in AASECT as well. If you are an LMHCA or LMFTA, Dr. Sellers is an AAMFT approved supervisor as well as an AASECT approved supervisor. This means that ALL of your cases for state licensure and AASECT certification can be supervised at the same time, allowing you to count each hour of supervision for BOTH your state requirement and your AASECT requirement - that's TWO HOURS OF SUPERVISION FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!

Step 5: Once you have your license (your associates license counts!), and you have chosen an AASECT supervisor, if you're in the Seattle area, you can join NWIOI's community of Certified Integrated Intimacy Practitioners (CIIPs). As a CIIP, you can list your practice our our website, receive free referrals, free training opportunities, free marketing of your events on our calendar and social media, and belong to an incredible community practitioners.

You are on a career path that sets your couples up for holistic, bio/psycho/social/spiritual/sexual care. At the Institute, we call a person with this extensive training, a Certified Integrated Intimacy Practitioner (CIIP). For those that are interested in becoming a CIIP™ you would need to take one additional spirituality CEU which is available online in our Hebrew Mystic Sexuality Training. This course functions as your “elective” in your training where you choose additional training in the integration of spirituality and sexuality to round out your expertise.

There are less than 5% of therapists in the country with this level of comprehensive training. This is an elite group, and one that we want to continue to expand, because ALL CLIENTS come to you with all of these aspects of themselves affected by life’s stresses and hardships.

They expect and deserve someone with this level of training. We hope through our training and community, that we will continue to raise the level of care folks can expect to find to support their bio/psycho/social/sexual/spiritual health and wellness.

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