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  • Rachael Rainey (edited by Nicole Ananda)

Which Type of Sex Therapy Is For You?

"Love is the answer, but while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions." -- Woody Allen

lovers statue

Look up sex therapy online and a barrage of perplexing information will be readily available to confuse you. The goal today is to elucidate some common terms so that you can make educated decisions regarding your program of sexual health.

Sex Therapist

A sex therapist is a licensed mental health expert. To be a sex therapist, one needs to have a degree in psychotherapy, theology, social work, or medicine. A sex therapist may augment this training with additional sexuality training. Sex therapy can be a longer process where you dive into the childhood underpinnings of your emotional challenges around sex. It is often particularly helpful to those who have unresolved trauma or higher levels of dysfunction. Certified sex therapists do not have sexual contact with their clients.


Sexology is the scientific study of sex and sexuality, and the scientists who contribute to our knowledge in this field are known as sexologists. Sexologists are an incredibly diverse group of people who come from many different scientific backgrounds. Sexologists generally have a master's or doctoral degree, or some other type of advanced professional degree. While there are some training and certification programs available in sexology specifically, these are not absolutely essential to becoming a sexologist.

Sex Coach

A sex coach is a trained professional who helps people with sexual issues. However, anyone can call themselves a sex coach. They may or may not have credentials to back up that claim. There are two main types of sex coaching: talk and experiential. During talk coaching sessions, a sex coach will ask you about your challenges and goals. They will give you suggestions for improvement, as well as book and video recommendations. In experiential sex coaching, your sex coach will help you achieve your goals through hands-on practice in addition to talking. Sex coaches are not licensed therapists, and as such, should not offer psychological diagnosis or treatment plans.

Surrogate Partner

Surrogate partners are a type of experiential sex coach. Surrogate partners who are operating according to the ethical code of surrogate partner therapy will always work in partnership with a licensed therapist. Surrogate partners participate with the client in experiences that are designed to build client self-awareness and skills in the areas of physical and emotional intimacy. These therapeutic experiences include partner work in relaxation, effective communication, sensual and sexual touching, and social skills training. The involvement of a licensed and/or certified professional with an advanced degree is a cornerstone of this therapy process. Beware of any practitioner who calls him-/her-self a surrogate partner but does not work with a licensed clinician – these so-called surrogate partners are not working within the ethical codes of true surrogate partner therapy. The team therapist assists the client with emotional and cognitive issues, and helps the client process the work the s/he is doing with his/her surrogate partner. Sessions with the therapist are interwoven with the surrogate partner sessions in order to facilitate understanding and change. Because of its emphasis on both clinical therapy and hands-on experiential work, within a therapeutic framework, surrogate partner therapy is one of the most effective forms of sex therapy available.

At Ananda Integrative Healing Group, we practice our own exclusive method of surrogate partner therapy. It is conducted according to the ethical guidelines of true surrogate partner therapy, always in partnership with a licensed clinician. In addition to the traditional surrogate partner therapy protocol, we add elements of sex coaching and other transformational personal growth work – Reiki healing, spiritual guidance, somatic bodywork, Tantra, and hypnotherapy. Our unique integrative and holistic approach has resulted in unparalleled growth and transformation for hundreds of clients. We welcome the opportunity to help you take your sex life – and your whole life – to the next level!

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