Sexology is the scientific study of sexual interests, behavior, and function. It is specifically a field of the research-based sciences; as such, sexology is distinct from the more general study of sexuality which may or may not incorporate explicitly scientific research methods.
In modern sexology, researchers apply tools from several academic fields, including biology, medicine, psychology, statistics, epidemiology, sociology, anthropology, and criminology. Sexology studies sexual development and the development of sexual relationships as well as the mechanics of sexual intercourse.
It also documents the sexualities of special groups, such as the disabled, child development, adolescents, and the elderly. Sexologists study sexual dysfunctions, disorders, and variations, including such widely varying topics as erectile dysfunction, transgenderism, and sexual orientation.
What is a sexologist?
A sexologist is engaged in the scientific study of sex and is interested in understanding what people do sexually and how they feel about what they do. A sexologist learns about the broad spectrum of human sexual behavior and the many factors that influence people's behavior and feelings about their sexuality.
What is a clinical sexologist?
A clinical sexologist is a sexologist who offers sex counseling to help people understand and accept themselves as sexual beings and meet their sexual goals. Sexologists are sex-positive and maintain a broad perspective by taking factors such as biological, psychological, sociological, anthropological and historical into consideration when addressing sexual issues. They use an educational approach to help clients meet their goals and are nonjudgmental, which means that they do not have any preconceptions of what a client’s sexuality “should” look like.
How does a clinical sexologist work?
Clinical sexologists facilitate clients’ sexual growth by helping them to identify their sexual goals and by offering education, resources, tools and techniques to help them meet those goals and ultimately manage their own sexual growth. The process entails the following steps:
This is considered “brief therapy,” which is and goal-oriented counseling. If sexual difficulties appear to be rooted in deeper issues that require intensive therapy, a practitioner will refer clients to a therapist. If he or she feels that a client requires medical attention before or during work with a clinical sexologist, the practitioner will do his or her best to provide a referral.
I offer sex education and sexual enrichment programs for individuals and couples who want to improve or enhance their sexual relationships. Some common goals include recapturing lost sensuality; adjusting sexually to life changes such as health challenges, menopause, change in relationship status, or motherhood; and becoming comfortable with one's own or a partner's sexuality.
What kind of training do you have?
Sexology is currently an unregulated field, which means that people can call themselves sexologists without earning credentials in the field. When searching for a sex counselor, it is important to ask what kind of training a practitioner has in the area of human sexuality. Board certification by the American College of Sexologists or the American Board of Sexologists is one indication that a practitioner has completed a course of study in human sexuality that includes an experiential component.
I have a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality with an emphasis on Clinical Sexology as well as a Masters Degree in Public Health from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS). I am board certified by the American College of Sexologists (ACS).
My training consisted of studying the many facets of human sexual behavior and participating in experiential courses to learn about my own beliefs and feelings about those behaviors. This training has prepared me to work with a broad range of sexual issues and the awareness gained by experiential courses enables me to confront my personal biases in order to maintain a nonjudgmental space for clients. My doctoral research explored the relationship between participants in the online fetish community. For additional biographical information, please visit the About the Founder page.
How does clinical sexology differ from sex therapy? How do I choose a practitioner?
Like sexology, the sex therapy field is unregulated in all states except Florida, which means that people who have licenses to practice therapy can call themselves sex therapists without additional training in the area of human sexuality. Those who have substantial training in the field often seek certification by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
A sex therapist is trained in psychology and may have taken few or many courses in human sexuality; a qualified sexologist has taken many courses in human sexuality and views sexual behavior from a biological, psychological and sociological perspective. Sexological training alone does not qualify someone to practice intensive therapy and psychological training alone does not qualify someone to practice sex counseling.
Techniques used by clinical sexologists and sex therapists can be similar, but sex therapists are therapists first, which means their approach to addressing sexual issues can be very different. To determine if someone is qualified to help you with your sexual concerns, ask about their training and approach to treating sexual concerns and ensure it is empowering, non-judgmental and sex-positive.
The ethical guidelines I follow are based on the belief that sexual rights are human rights.
1. The freedom of any sexual thought, fantasy or desire.
2. The right to sexual entertainment, freely available in the marketplace, including sexually explicit materials dealing with the full range of sexual behavior.
3. The right not to be exposed to sexual material or behavior.
4. The right to sexual self-determination.
5. The right to seek out and engage in consensual sexual activity.
6. The right to engage in sexual acts or activities of any kind whatsoever, providing they do not involve nonconsensual acts, violence, constraint, coercion or fraud.
7. The right to be free of persecution, condemnation, discrimination, or societal intervention in private sexual behavior.
8. The recognition by society that every person, partnered or unpartnered, has the right to the pursuit of a satisfying consensual sociosexual life free from political, legal or religious interference and that there need to be mechanisms in society where the opportunities of sociosexual activities are available to the following: disabled persons; chronically ill persons; those incarcerated in prisons, hospitals or institutions; those disadvantaged because of age, lack of physical attractiveness, or lack of social skills; and the poor and the lonely.
9. The basic right of all persons who are sexually dysfunc-tional to have available nonjudgmental sexual health care.
10. The right to control conception.