There are a lot of different terms out there for people who claim they can help you with sexual challenges or problems. There are sex therapists, coaches (life, intimacy, sex, relationship, dating, etc.), sexologists, Tantric dakas and dakinis, somatic sex educators, and sexological bodyworkers. These are just a few of the many terms that are out there. For the most part, many of these professions are unregulated. I love how Amy Marsh (EdD,DHS, CS, CI) put it in a recent article; "we inhabit a swirling internet world of “sexperts,” sexologists, sex therapists, romance advice divas, blissful tantrikas, and snarky bloggers – all jockeying for position like diphallic terata in a too small pair of shorts."
Some schools and training centers offer certification for completing their course of instruction. Some of these professions have professional associations that their practitioners can join. Some of these associations will have a code of ethics that denotes how their practitioners will work within that modality.
It is important when you are looking for a professional to help you with your sexual challenges or problems to Check Them Out Thoroughly!
This will protect you in the long run. Hiring someone who is not a good fit for you or is not qualified to help you could result in spending unnecessary time and money at a minimum and the risk of being traumatized in the process or even being physically harmed.
If you are not sure about their training, qualifications and experience….Ask Them Questions, for References, and for Testimonial sources. I will address experience in a follow-up posting because I have found there is so much variation in the field. (and it is not how many Facebook friends they have or blog posts they have written). For now, I’ll continue below with checking out one's training and qualifications.
Just as an example, I’d like to share about myself and Sexological Bodywork. I became interested in this field about eight years ago. I began a personal course of study to prepare myself for this work while I was working in another helping profession. Three years ago, I began taking different trainings to further prepare myself for the Sexological Bodywork training. Two years ago, I began the Sexological Bodywork training and upon completion I became a Certified Sexological Bodyworker. This profession is trademarked in the United States. There is a specific course of instruction to obtain this certification. There are currently six schools around the world offering this training. There are five professional organizations around the world that represent Certified Sexological Bodyworkers.
If you wanted to check me out further, you could ask which school I attended and what professional organizations I belong to. Next, you could do some research on those schools and professional organizations. You could also ask to see my certificates.
Somatic Sex Educator has over time become nearly synonymous with Certified Sexological Bodyworker. However, not every person calling themselves a Somatic Sex Educator has completed the certification process to also call themselves a Certified Sexological Bodyworker. So, if someone says they are a Somatic Sex Educator, you could verify their credentials by simply asking to see their certificate.
What a difference a word makes….
If they claim to be a Certified Somatic Sex Educator, they have completed additional training in a course of study that included coaching, teaching and mentoring Sexological Bodywork students. Even though it is only one word, this is a huge difference. Not only does it mean that they are qualified to teach somatic sex education topics, they have also received additional training and experience that enables them to help teach future teachers.