About the Program

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 individuals within the above list who: are military veterans; identify as people of color; identify as LGBTQQAI, and/or serve marginalized or under-represented populations.

The Sex Therapy Certificate is the only sex therapy certification program offered for continuing education (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 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 Counselors, Educators 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.

The sex therapy certificate program is typically delivered through in-person instruction and online materials. Participants meet in San Francisco on 3 weekends (Friday through Sunday, and one weekend Thursday through Sunday) for 75 hours of in person training during the fall or spring, and conduct the remaining hours of learning online in a self-paced fashion for a total of 165 hours. Upon completion of the in-person weekends, students will have two years to complete their online coursework. 

75 Continuing Education Credits (CEs) Available 
• The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT licenses

• For questions about CE or receiving your Certificate of Attendance, contact CIIS Public Programs at publicprograms@ciis.edu

• LCSWs and MFTs from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board for approval.

Spring 2021 Sex Therapy Cohort Weekends

• March 5th - 7th
• April 16th - 18th
• May 20th - 23rd


Deposit: $200
- Applications will not be considered without deposit.
Early Application Discounts: $100 off before December 15th, 2020
Full Program Fee: $6,500

Payment and Cancelation Policies
A deposit of $200 is due at the time of application. If you are not accepted, or if you wish to cancel after the payment of the initial deposit, this fee will be refunded minus a $100 processing fee. After payment of the initial deposit of $200, payment of the remaining balance of $6,300 must be received by February 10th, 2021, to secure your space in the program. Payment plans are available and will be provided to accepted applicants. If a student withdraws before March 1st, 2021, fifty percent of the full fee ($3,250) will be due. The full fee of $6,500 is due if a student withdraws after March 1st, 2021.

Scholarship Application
CIIS Public Programs is offering the following scholarships for the Spring 2021 cohort:

  • BIPOC Scholarship: (1) full scholarship awarded to an applicant who identifies as Black, Indigenous, and/or person of color
  • Full Scholarship: (1) full scholarship
  • Partial Scholarships: (3+) partial scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each

To apply, please write a 1-2 page essay that describes your financial situation and why you are applying for a scholarship; why this certificate is important to you; and, how this training will benefit you and your community. Please indicate which scholarship(s) you are applying to.

CIIS Discount
All current and former CIIS students are eligible to receive a 20% discount ($1300) off the program fee.

Payment Plans
All accepted students will be eligible for payment plan options (one, two, or four installments) at no extra charge. For questions about fees and payment, including payment plans, please contact Kyle at kdemedio@ciis.edu or (415) 655-5561.

Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis until the Spring 2021 cohort is full. Applicants will be notified within one month of submitting their application.

Course Content

CIIS is an AASECT certified CEU provider. Our content is aligned to the A - Q core knowledge content and A - G training in sex therapy.

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.  Click here for class descriptions.

Format and Development of the Certificate

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.

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 in person activities as well as independent 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.  

What can I do with a certificate in Sex Therapy?

Three primary opportunities could await you as a certificate graduate:

•    You would become skilled in the complex assessment and treatment of the intersection between psychological, sexual and relational phenomena;

•    You would become competent in dialoguing and collaborating with a host of professionals to support your clients including pain specialists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, sexologists, sex surrogates, massage therapists, medical doctors, endocrinologists, sex educators, and others to address the needs of clients; and,

•   You would be poised to meet the unmet needs of the community.

What Are the Benefits of Attending the Sex Therapy Certificate Program?

By enrolling in this certificate program, you will:

•    Have a unique opportunity to train with a dynamic interdisciplinary team of sexuality experts.
•    Develop your clinical skills to an advanced level of expertise that integrates sexuality into your clinical practice, affirms diversity of sexual identities, develops competence and skill in addressing the intersection of relational issues and sexual ones and fosters embodied intimacy development through sexuality.
•    Enjoy the support & conviviality of a cohort of therapists, and professionals with whom you might consult or collaborate in the future.
•    Learn to be present to the ways in which you can more deeply understand your own sexuality and the sexualities of others and attitudes toward it.
•    Join an engaged & healing classroom atmosphere that nurtures our human capacity for curiosity, aliveness, well-being, affirmation & community.
•    Expand your scope of practice within your profession to include skills and insights from the certification training that would allow you to more ably help people navigate through intimacy and relationships.
•    Take advantage of applicable continuing education credits for this certificate.

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