About the Program

The Sex Therapy Certificate (STC) program is offered three times a year: Spring, Summer, & Fall.

Spring Summer Fall
Applications open September to early January. Applications open February to April. Applications open May to July.
All synchronous teaching weekends online via Zoom. Two synchronous teaching weekends in-person at CIIS in San Francisco. Two weekends online via Zoom. All synchronous teaching weekends online via Zoom.

STC is delivered in two components: (1) live synchronous teaching weekends (2) self-paced online asynchronous learning. The live synchronous teaching weekends take place in-person at CIIS in San Francisco OR online via Zoom for a total of 75 hours. Teaching weekends are either fully in-person or fully online as indicated on the schedule; there are no hybrid opportunities (i.e. joining virtually to an in-person class).

Upon completion of the live synchronous weekends, students will receive a digital certificate of completion through Accredible, along with a BBS Continuing Education Certificate for completed hours upon request.

Students will have access to the online asynchronous material for one additional full year to complete at their own pace. This portion of the certificate is an additional and optional 90 hours and designed as a supplement for those students seeking AASECT certification. In total, our program consists of 75 synchronous and 90 asynchronous hours, for a total of 165 hours.

This certificate is designed as additional training for counseling professionals who are licensed, are license eligible, or who have completed their coursework to become license eligible. Types of professionals for whom this program applies include:

  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC)
  • Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) 
  • Clinical and Counseling Psychologists (PsyD)
  • Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (MD & NP)

Under specific circumstances, prospective medical and mental health professionals who are not yet licensed may apply if they have completed the great majority of their coursework and have secured a traineeship or internship for gaining training hours of counseling and psychotherapy and have plans to complete their coursework in parallel.

We especially encourage applications from people who identify as people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, militarily veterans, and/or those who serve marginalized and under-represented populations.

The Sex Therapy Certificate is the only sex therapy certification program offered for continuing education Credits (CEs) in San Francisco and is among one of the few offered on the West Coast. It is also one of the few programs offered by an accredited institution nationally. These courses are taught by faculty from CIIS' human sexuality doctoral program, doctoral level American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) certified sex educators and sex therapists, and clinical sexologists who are leaders in their respective professions and scholarly activities.  

CIIS' strengths and history of contributions in the fields of counseling psychology, integral health and integral pedagogy, and sexuality studies form the basis for our approach to the certificate. We strive to provide an integral view of the fields of sex therapy and sex education, including multiple perspectives and philosophies, rooted in a sex positive view and affirmation of the diversity of sexual practices, experiences, and identities of our communities and clients.

The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), is the leading organization providing professional criteria and certification requirements for the field of sex therapy, sex education and sex counseling. We have become an institutional CE provider aligning with their certification criteria. Sex therapists are licensed clinicians (LPCC, MSW, MFT, RN, PsyD) who have additional training in the assessment and treatment of sexuality.

AASECT sex therapy certification serves an unmet need for additional training and skills for addressing competently a wide range of concerns that often go unaddressed in psychotherapy, such as: arousal and desire concerns, desire discrepancies within a couple, difficulties with climax, emerging sexual identities, development of intimacy, open relationships and extra-marital affairs, diversity of sexual expression, cybersexuality, sexual trauma and rape, socio-cultural factors associated with sexuality, and painful sex. Currently, there are very few certified sex therapists in the nation; psychotherapists often treat couples and individuals who have these concerns but lack training, and the medical view of sexuality experiences and disorders is limited. Psychotherapists who have additional training would be poised to help couples and individuals to address these concerns within the context of psychotherapy in an integral fashion and/or as separate and specific concerns as sex therapists.

State Authorizations

Currently, we are not able to enroll certificate students from the following states due to state authorization requirements. If you are located in one of these states and would like to apply to our program, please sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page, as this policy is subject to change. Learn more information on CIIS & State Authorization.

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Continuing Education Credits (CEs) Available

This program meets the requirements for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and is approved for 165 CEs (75 In-Person & 90 Online). Completion of this program does not ensure or guarantee AASECT Certification. For further information please contact ce@aasect.org.

This program meets the requirements for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) and is approved for 75 CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT licenses. For questions about BBS CE credits, contact CIIS Public Programs at publicprograms@ciis.edu. Please note that LCSWs and MFTs from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board for approval.

AASECT Application Requirements

Upon completion of the certificate, participants will be eligible to conduct 300 hours of practical training in sex therapy in discussion with an AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor. AASECT requires 50 hours of supervision. CIIS faculty will help you select a supervisor in your area or with whom you agree to work via Skype. Thereafter, applicants send their documentation of coursework and supervised hours to AASECT as an application for certification.

CIIS will provide a packet of helpful materials to assist students in applying for AASECT certification,including a helpful breakdown of Core Knowledge Area requirements met for each hour of teaching and an application filled in with their specific cohort’s information to be used as a guide.

Certificate Development

The initial format of instruction was originally developed by Dr. Nicolle Zapien, former core faculty of the CIIS Human Sexuality department, certified sex therapist, and former Dean of the CIIS School of Professional Psychology and Health. Dr. Zapien collaborated with AASECT, many clinicians and sex therapists, sexologists, medical professionals in sexual medicine, online educators and sex educators in the development of the program.  

Zoe Sipe, MFT, CST (AASECT certified Sex Therapist) took over as program lead in 2017, and has continued to work with nationally recognized sex therapists and educators to refine program offerings. 

In 2023, Juan Camarena joined as program lead for our Summer cohorts, which offer in-person teaching weekends and a full BIPOC and/or gender diverse teaching team.

The current curriculum for each cohort is designed and delivered by the individual instructors for each course, partly guided by mapping their content to the AASECT core knowledge areas and clinical skills training areas.

The learning experience will consist of both live synchronous activities as well as independent asynchronous self-paced learning through our online CANVAS platform. Activities will include but are not limited to: lectures, small group discussion, large group discussion, and experiential learning (role-play, journaling, self-reflection, activities in the community, information gathering) as well as applied work in clinical and therapeutic settings. We aim to offer a professional context to develop competency in sexual knowledge, clinical assessment and treatment of sexuality concerns. 

Why join the Sex Therapy Certificate (STC)?

  • Complete all 165 educational hours required for the AASECT sex therapist application.
  • Integrate sexuality into your clinical practice and build clinical competence for addressing the intersection of relational and sexual issues.
  • Learn from a diverse range of instructors that come from a variety of backgrounds and specialties.
  • Receive support from STC staff in finding an appropriate AASECT-certified supervisor.
  • Build relationships with your cohort and join a growing community of sex therapists.

If you have additional questions contact us.

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