If you are looking at a career as a sex therapist or sex coach, it’s important to know the difference between the two pathways.
Both sex coaching and sex therapy are valuable professions that aim to help people improve their sexual experiences and overall well-being.
However, they have distinctly different approaches and scopes of practice. The decision to become a sex coach instead of a sex therapist depends on your personality, how long you want to study, and what kinds of clients you’d most like to help.
What Is the Difference Between Sex Coaching Vs Sex Therapy?
Sex therapy uses traditional therapeutic approaches, such as couples sensate focus homework or cognitive behavioral approaches to achieve its goals. Sex coaching, in contrast, can include more varied and cutting-edge interventions, like touch or spiritual sexual practices.
Additionally, sex therapy often focuses on alleviating medical or psychological dysfunctions, while sex coaching emphasizes empowerment, putting pleasure at the center of your life, and using sexual energy as fuel for daily satisfaction.
Some key differences include:
1. Years of Schooling
Sex Therapist: You need to first become a licensed mental health professional, such as a marriage and family therapist (MFT), psychologists, or clinical social worker (CSW). This means getting a master’s degree, completing hours, and taking a licensing exam. You’ll also need to complete your hours and do additional training in sexuality. It takes about 7 years of schooling and hours (4 undergrad and 2 graduate, plus hours and additional study).
Sex Coach: While anyone can call themselves a sex coach, to become a successful practitioner, be truly able to help your clients, and gain the trust of potential clients and referring colleagues, you need to take a sex coaching certification training. Not all programs are accredited – but those that are, require about a year and a half of study. Others can ready you to see clients in as little as 6 months.
2. Focus of Practice
Sex Therapist: The goal is generally to resolve issues like dysfunctions, sexual health concerns, and psychological or emotional aspects related to sexuality. You may see clients with erectile dysfunction, low desire, or performance and anxiety issues, and interventions start with the client’s history, mental health, and diagnoses. Sex therapists often work with clients who have more complex sexual issues and psychological barriers to intimacy.
Sex Coach: Your practice will focus on education, guidance, and empowerment rather than clinical therapy. Coaches assist individuals or couples in enhancing their sexual skills, communication, and overall satisfaction. As such, a sex coach can choose to focus on all sorts of different goals around sexual desire and expression. Sex coaches often work with clients who want to enhance their sexual experiences, explore their desires, and develop greater sexual confidence and fulfillment.
3. Types of Interventions
Sex Therapist: Licensing requirements put heavy restrictions on what a sex therapist is allowed to do in their practice. Thus, they are limited to diagnosing and treating mental health disorders related to sexual difficulties, and providing psychotherapy and counseling to help clients explore and address deeper emotional issues. They cannot touch their clients or exchange erotic energy, and must stick with talk, cognitive intervention, or non-touch-based somatic interventions.
Sex Coach: Coaches must abide by the laws in their state around sexual touch, but have much more leeway to use a variety of tools to help their clients. For example, a sex coach can go on a practice date with a client, or teach them how to give and receive more sensual touch. They can teach flirting and sexual communication in real time instead of having to give it as homework.
Reasons to Choose Sex Coaching:
- Focus on Positivity: Sex coaching often emphasizes a positive, growth-oriented approach, focusing on enhancing pleasure, communication, and intimacy rather than addressing dysfunction or pathology.
- Less Formal Education: Becoming a sex coach requires less formal education and licensing compared to becoming a licensed sex therapist, which can appeal to those seeking a more flexible career path.
- Exploring Non-Therapeutic Aspects: If you are interested in helping clients explore their fantasies and desires, embodiment, and sexual confidence without delving into mental health diagnoses, sex coaching might be a better fit.
- Versatility & Freedom: Sex coaches have the flexibility to work in various settings, such as one-on-one coaching, workshops, or online platforms, and are not limited to working with clients in the state they are living in. Also, because it is a newer profession, it is still possible to become a thought leader in the sex coaching realm.
Reasons to Choose Sex Therapy:
- Covered by Insurance: Only licensed therapists can be reimbursed by insurance. While insurance payments might be low, it gives clients who otherwise might not be able to afford you, access to your services.
- A Governing Body: You might feel more comfortable knowing there is a governing body and universal code of ethics. While some coaching schools have a code of ethics, there is no governmental agency in charge of monitoring graduates.
- Ability to Diagnose: If you want to better understand the DSM and use diagnosis as a guide to work with your clients, a graduate study in psychology will often include thorough training in mental health diagnostics.
Just know, though, that both professions play essential roles in promoting sexual well-being and can make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Interested to find out more about sex coach certification training? Join us for a free Somatica certification Q&A session!