Sexology is a fascinating field, with more and more mental health and academic professionals pursuing careers within this field. This article will define sexology, some history, how to become a sexologist, and more.
What is sexology?
Sexology is a branch of science that studies human sexuality and sexual behavior. According to Britannica, “sexology is an interdisciplinary science that focuses on diverse aspects of human sexual behaviour and sexuality, including sexual development, relationships, intercourse, sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted diseases, and pathologies such as child sexual abuse or sexual addiction.”
Those who study and practice this field are referred to as sexologists. Since it’s a clinical and scientific study, clinical sexologists are professional practitioners. In addition, sexologists can have careers in fields like public policy, research, and education.
There is a common misconception that sexologists are sex therapists. However, these two professions are different. For example, sexologists can choose to become sex therapists, where they can talk to patients about any issues. However, sexology is a broader term that researches human behavior and changes public policies, activism, and education.
What is some History of this Field?
Sexology dates back centuries to books about sexuality and love, like the Kama Sutra, the Ars Amatoria, and The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight. However, these texts are not technically used in a formal scientific or medical research setting.
In the late 1800s – despite the sexual repressive attitudes known to surface in the Victorian era – more liberal attitudes towards sexuality actually started to make itself known in England and Germany. For example, in 1886, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing published Psychopathia Sexualis, one of the most well-known works that defined sexology as a scientific discipline.
Within the next ten years, English medical doctor and sexologist Havelock Ellis questioned the sexual taboos of his time, especially masturbation and being gay. In his 1897 book Sexual Inversion, he described the sexual relationships of gay men, and it is considered to be the first objective study of its kind. He even coined the term homosexuality and did not label or view it as a crime or immoral.
Throughout future decades, many other scientists explored and studied human sexuality. Some notable names are Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Stekel, Ernst Grafenberg (who G-spot is named after), Alfred Kinsey, John Money, and the duo William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson (1925-2013).
Even though their works could be considered controversial, these practitioners made significant contributions to sexology.
What is Clinical Sexology, and What Do Clinical Sexologists Do?
Clinical Sexology is a mental health service providing sexual education, assessment, and treatment of sexual issues for adults and/or couples outside of a hospital setting. The clinical sexologist will implement various psychotherapeutic techniques to help clients with any type of concern. These concerns can include:
- Sexual dysfunction, including arousal and orgasm difficulties and desire discrepancies
- Atypical sexual interests
- Gender identity issues and transitioning
- Sexual orientation questions and concerns
The first step involves an assessment featuring an interview to understand better the issue and how it has affected a client’s relationship and daily functioning. Your partner may be asked to join any sessions or discussions if appropriate. After the issue is identified, a sexologist will ask about any psychosexual history, including:
- Early sexual experiences
- Important sources of information about their sexuality
- Past and current sexual behaviors and fantasies
- The satisfaction level in sexual relationships
- Information about sexual orientation and gender identity
- Any medical conditions and medications that may be getting in the way of sexual function
Sexologists will also help clients establish any therapeutic goals and create a treatment plan unique to the individual and their needs. This process will contain education about sexual health, sexual response, and more. It will also provide assignments for individuals or couples.
How Do you Become a Sexologist?
There are a small amount of universities that offer degrees in sexology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, many people that become sexologists have other educational backgrounds. These backgrounds include sociology, psychology, biology, public health, anthropology, and more.
Sexologists often have a master’s, Ph.D., or advanced professional accreditation or degree. In addition, there are some sexology specific programs, but you don’t have to undergo them to become a sexologist.
In addition, you do not need a board certification to become a sexologist. However, you can seek additional credentials from organizations like the American Board of Sexology or the American College of Sexologists International. To get this certification, you must show any relevant advanced academic degree, work experience, and completion of various training hours (requirements may vary based on the certificate).
What Fields do Sexologists Specialize in?
As previously mentioned, sexologists can pursue various career paths besides therapy. Many sexologists may choose to research the field of human sexuality, advocate for public policy changes, provide advice on inter-disciplinary data, and, more. However, many sexologists do go on to become sex therapists.
Sexologists who choose the sex therapy route work directly with clients and patients and focus on their sexuality, past trauma, and interpersonal relationships. If sexologists work with couples, they may concentrate on problems like difficulty with orgasms, sexlessness, and mismatched libidos.
All in all, clinical sexologists and/or sex therapists will focus on a patient’s sexual growth. They provide advice, information, resources, tools, and assignments to identify sexual goals, desires, and histories. In addition, sexologists can get clients out of their comfort zone with sex gradually. As a result, they help clients lead more positive sexual lives and ensure their overall quality of life is better.
Sexology is an evolving field and can help people looking to improve their sex lives or any other sexual concerns. Sexologists specialize in various disciplines and have extensive backgrounds that led them to their profession. If you are looking for a qualified and experienced sexologist, we have a variety of mental health practitioners available on our LGBTQ and ALL database. We pride ourselves in offering contact information for mental health practitioners who specialize in a variety of fields so that you can easily access the best care possible.