So what exactly do I do? This is the most common question I receive! Now, I can’t tell you what every sexologist does, but I can tell you what a typical day in my life looks like. Let’s start by breaking it down. A sexologist means a person who studies human sexuality and sexual behavior. Some may think that a sexologist and sex therapist are the same (which sometimes is true), but other sexologists work as researchers, educators, or public policy advocates.
How does someone become a sexologist?
What’s interesting about the field of sexology, is that there is no, one distinct path to getting there. They typically require an advanced degree like a master’s or doctoral degree in a field such as psychology, sociology, human sexuality, or other related fields). Some schools offer a degree in human sexuality specifically, but because there are so few, many sexologists have educational backgrounds in other disciplines, depending on their specific interest. There are also training and certification programs in sexology, specifically, but they are not essential in becoming or identifying as a sexologist. Also, though board certification is not required, some may seek additional certification through professional organizations. For myself, my educational background is in gender and sexuality studies and biology at the undergraduate level, marriage & family therapy and sex therapy at the graduate level, and human sexuality at the Ph.D. level.
What exactly do you do?
As mentioned above, there are many routes one can take as a sexologist, whether it be conducting research, providing therapy, sex education, or working with public policy. As a clinical sexologist, I work in a clinical setting, which means I perform sex therapy, assisting clients with a range of sexual concerns including sexual trauma recovery, mix-matched libidos, erection and ejaculation difficulties, painful sex, inability to orgasm, out of control sexual behaviors, lack of desire, and more. Some may think that this type of work includes physical contact from myself, but it does not. I may at times prescribe some type of physical homework, but there is generally no physical contact in sessions; however, I do emphasize strengthening the mind-body connection. Using a combination of talk therapy techniques, somatic methods, and psychoeducation about sex and anatomy, I work with individuals and couples to increase pleasure and become their ideal sexual selves. In addition, as a Ph.D. student, I engage in quite a bit of research in the field of human sexuality and offer sex education though my appearance in podcasts, university lectures, social media, and blog posts (like this one!)
Finding a sexologist
Unfortunately, these professional titles aren’t currently regulated, which means that anyone can call themself a sex therapist or sexologist. If you are in search of someone who is certified, you can check the listing at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) online directory.
Lastly, if you are interested in working with a sexologist, I encourage you to ask about their area of focus and their background or credentials. That way, you can make the most informed decision about who to trust with your sexual health.
About The Author
Holly Wood is a Dana Point based Sex Therapist, EMDR trained Trauma Specialist, and Clinical Sexologist specializing in trauma, sex, and intimacy concerns. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Sexuality from the California Institute of Integral Studies, focusing on sexual trauma and social justice. Holly is committed to sexual wellness by working with clients to get past their past and develop the necessary skills to achieve lifelong change for a more pleasurable and connected life.
“I am passionate about helping people achieve their goals and live happy, healthy, rewarding lives. I truly believe that trauma is the source of pathology, and that everyone has within them the capacity to heal. I work with couples and individuals to sort things out, let go of what does not serve them, and develop the necessary skills to achieve lifelong change to improve their quality of life. I believe that people deserve to create the life they truly want. Peaceful. Connected. Powerful. And Pleasurable.”
– Holly Wood, MS., LMFT
To find out more about her work or to schedule an appointment, check out more at https://www.hollywoodmft.com/
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