Certified Sex Addiction Therapist

When the need for sex interferes with daily life, someone can be diagnosed with sex addiction or sexual compulsion. Therapists can receive specialized training and certification in treating this type of addiction, which is not that different from other compulsive disorders such as gambling, shopping, or even drug or alcohol abuse.

However, a sexual addiction diagnosis is relatively controversial in the United States. In fact, it is excluded from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) which is the diagnostic tool for mental illness in the US. However, it is included in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) list as “sexual compulsion.”

A sexual addiction diagnosis is complicated because sex is natural human behavior and it can be hard to discern the difference. That is why it is critical for anyone who may have this condition to receive care from a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT). In order to earn a CSAT professionals must hold a master’s degree or higher in a mental health-related field including counseling, psychology, social work, or marriage and family counseling.

In addition to an advanced degree, mental healthcare professionals must also have at least five years of clinical experience in order to pursue a career as a CSAT. After the necessary education and experience have been attained, candidates can apply for CSAT certification. If approved, they will be required to complete a four-module training course that will prepare them for the intricacies of helping this specific population. 

If working with clients who struggle with sexual addiction sounds interesting, continue reading to learn about state licensing requirements, career outlook, and top programs of study.

Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Specializations & Degree Types

In order to earn a certified sex addiction therapist credential, candidates must have earned a master’s degree or higher in psychology, counseling, or a related mental health field. Typical degrees aspiring sex addiction therapists can earn include:

  • Master’s of arts or science in counseling
  • Master’s of arts in marriage and family therapy
  • Master’s of social work
  • Master’s of arts in addiction counseling
  • Doctor of psychology 
  • Doctor of philosophy in psychology

Admissions Requirements for Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Programs

The standards for admission for certified sex addiction therapist programs vary based on the discipline and school. Many programs can be very competitive so it is imperative that applicants submit comprehensive applications that showcase their skills and education. Typical requirements for a master’s degree in mental health can include:

  • A minimum GPA
  • GRE test scores
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Statement of intent
  • Current resume
  • Letters of recommendation

More rigorous programs may require applicants to have volunteer or work experience and complete an interview with a member of the admissions team.

Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Program Accreditation

There is no specific accreditation for sex addiction therapist programs. However, in order to work in this field professionals must have a license to provide mental health services. In order to obtain a license, candidates must have an advanced degree in a mental health field. Many states require that this degree be obtained from a school that holds programmatic accreditation for that particular degree. These can include:

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE)
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 

On-Campus Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Degree Programs

Texas Tech University – College of Human Sciences

The Texas Tech University College of Human Sciences offers a three-year doctor of philosophy in addictive disorders and recovery studies. This program prepares graduates to perform cutting-edge research in addiction to help fill the ever-increasing need for recovery scientists. 

While this is a research-focused degree program, students will work with professionals and clients in the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities and the Family Therapy Clinic at Texas Tech University. 

One advantage of this program is that accepted candidates will receive full funding for the three years they are part of this program. Meaning tuition, fees, and most living expenses are covered. As such, admissions are competitive. Requirements to be considered include a current CV, letters of recommendation, an extensive personal statement, and a personal interview. 

  • Location: Lubbock, TX 
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: Tuition and fees are covered through funding 

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi – College of Education and Human Development

Students in the master’s of science in professional counseling at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Education and Human Development can choose from one of three concentrations, including one in addictions studies. 

This two-year degree program prepares graduates for licensure as licensed professional counselors. There is a strong emphasis on multicultural awareness and sensitivity in this program and all students are evaluated on how effective they are in caring for diverse populations.  

In order to earn this degree, students must complete at least 60 credits of coursework. Required classes include abnormal behavior, ethical issues in counseling, psychometrics, psychodiagnosis, treatment strategies. Admission requirements for this program include official transcripts showing a completed bachelor’s degree, a current resume, an essay, three letters of recommendation, and an interview with the admissions committee. 

  • Location: Corpus Christi, TX 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $10,864 per year

Central Michigan University – College of Education and Human Services

The master’s of arts in counseling at Central Michigan University College of Education and Human Services has a concentration in addiction studies for aspiring certified sex addiction therapists. Students in this program complete rigorous classroom coursework, as well as intensive supervised clinical experiences to prepare them for work as licensed counselors. The goal of this program is to develop competent professionals with lifelong learning habits and an eye towards equality and social justice. 

To complete this program students must earn at least 60 credits of coursework. Classes required for the addiction concentration include neuropsychopharmacology, etiology of addiction, addiction-oriented systems and methods of care, and family counseling and therapy. 

  • Location: Mount Pleasant, MI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $682 per credit 

Boise State University – College of Education

The flexible part-time format of the master’s of art in counseling: addiction counseling program at Boise State University College of Education allows students to complete their studies over the course of three years. This degree prepares students to work with clients who have substance abuse disorders or any other kind of addiction, including sex addiction. Students will learn how to evaluate the addiction, provide treatments, and help prevent relapse. Tools students will master include how to educate clients, what an intervention should entail, and prevention strategies. 

This program accepts a limited number of students, so admissions can be very competitive. Applicants are expected to have professional experience and at a least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Other requirements include a letter of application, letters of recommendation, and a current resume. Exceptional students may even secure a graduate assistantship which includes a tuition stipend to offset the cost of the program.  

  • Location: Boise, ID
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $26,558 per year

University of North Carolina at Charlotte – Cato College of Education

At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Cato College of Education, students can complete their master’s of arts in addiction counseling. Many students who complete this program do go on to work in drug and alcohol counseling, although this degree does encompass all damaging addictive behaviors. Over the course of the two-year program, students will gain many clinical skills including how to involve the family in treatment, how to identify unhelpful behaviors, and how to teach coping strategies. 

One advantage of this program is the variety of treatment settings students will be exposed to through their practicums and internships. Past placements for students have included the McLeod Center, Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center, the SABER program, and the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Faculty in this program are leaders in the field and the Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling is currently housed in this department and edited by a faculty member. 

  • Location: Charlotte, NC
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $1,475.80 per credit

Online or Hybrid Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Degree Program

Southern New Hampshire University

Completing a bachelor’s of human services in addiction counseling at Southern New Hampshire University can be the first step in a career as a certified sex addiction therapist. This online degree can be completed without having to relocate or quit work as all classes are asynchronous and can be completed on the student’s own schedule. The hallmarks of this degree are compassion and support for clients suffering from an addiction. 

Typically this degree will take four years to complete but students can reduce the time needed to complete this program by transferring credits from other institutions or math assessments that give credit for knowledge the student already has. Required classes for this degree include foundations of addiction, abnormal psychology, and law and ethics in human services. 

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $320 per credit 

Abilene Christian University – School of Health and Human Services 

Aspiring sex addiction therapists who want to specialize in working with families can complete the online master of marriage and family therapy at Abilene Christian University. There are five concentrations in this program including general studies, children and adolescents, medical family therapy, military families, and trauma. All concentrations offer general education on addiction therapy, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. This program is taught from a Christian worldview. 

To apply for this online program, candidates must submit a resume, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose that responds to the prompts, and official transcripts that show an awarded bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. The application process also includes a video interview. Applicants must also “have a quality of life that reflects high moral standards.”

  • Location: Abilene, TX
  • Duration: 33 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Tuition: 825 per credit and $470 per credit for internship courses

Walden University

By earning an online master’s of science in clinical mental health counseling addiction counseling at Walden University, graduates will be prepared to address the unique emotional challenges families and clients face when battling addiction. Through coursework and clinical experiences, students will gain the skills to work in outpatient clinics, private practices, and community organizations helping clients manage addiction. 

All coursework from this degree is offered entirely online. However, students are required to complete an internship and practicum at an approved site. In total, students will complete 700 hours of face-to-face contact at a center that serves clients who have addiction disorders. To be considered for admission to this program, students must have already completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. 

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Duration: 100 to 106 quarter-credits; time to complete depends on the student
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $482 per quarter hour

Carlow University – College of Arts and Science

The master’s of science in professional counseling addiction counseling at Carlow University is a hybrid program. Students get the best of both worlds with required in-person classes along with flexible online coursework. Graduates of this program will be able to diagnose and treat a variety of mental and addiction disorders. A unique aspect of this degree is that students are trained to work with both adolescents and adults. 

All professional counseling students complete the same core coursework which includes classes such as lifespan development, ethics, group counseling, and family systems. Additional specific coursework includes substance abuse theories, biological basis for addiction counseling, counseling clients who have substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. 

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Duration: 30 months
  • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Tuition: $929 per credit 

Antioch University

With a unique low residency format, the online master’s of arts in couple and family therapy at Antioch University has combined traditional online learning with the benefits of in-person instruction. Throughout the program, students will be required to complete in-person classes, or residencies, at Antioch. These intensive face-to-face weeks afford students the chance to get to know faculty as well as interact with their peers. 

Between residencies, students complete their coursework online at their own pace. The first year of this program is all coursework, while the second and third include in-person practicums and internships. 

There are three concentrations students can choose from including addictions counseling, counseling in trauma, or trans-affirmative therapy. All concentrations complete coursework in human sexuality and sex therapy, addictions, and intrafamilial violence.  

  • Location: Yellow Springs, CA
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Tuition: $1,046 per credit

How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist?

All certified sex addiction therapists must be licensed mental health providers. At a minimum, it takes six years of education post-high school to be a licensed professional counselor, eight or more years to be a psychologist, and 15 to 20 to be a psychiatrist. In addition, certified sex addiction therapists must have five years of clinical work experience in order to be eligible to apply for the certification.

How To Become a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Obtain a GED (Four Years)

Completing high school or earning a GED is the first step towards becoming a certified sex addiction therapist. Students who are interested in pursuing this career should focus on classes such as psychology, English, math, and science to prepare them for additional studies.  

Step 2: Complete a Bachelors’ Degree (Four Years)

A bachelor’s degree is required in order to become a certified sex addiction therapist. Most undergraduate degrees in social science will adequately prepare students for this field. However, students may find a degree in health and human services, social work, or psychology to be particularly advantageous. Students should also consider volunteer or work opportunities that can help them gain hands-on experience in counseling as this can bolster graduate school applications.  

Step 3: Obtain an Advanced Degree (Two to Eight Years)

In order to qualify to be a certified sex addiction therapist, candidates must have earned a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution in psychology, counseling, or related mental health field. Candidates can also complete a degree in marriage and family therapy, social work, or psychiatry.  

Step 4: Complete Supervised Practice (Two to Four Years)

To practice as a licensed counselor, candidates must complete a required number of hours of clinical supervised practice. This number varies by state and discipline but can be anywhere from 1,000 hours on up. 

Step 5: Pass State Licensing Exam (Timeline Varies)

One step in becoming a therapist is passing required state licensing exams. This exam varies based on discipline and state. 

Step 6: Apply for a State License (Timeline Varies) 

Once the required number of clinical practice hours has been completed and the required licensing exam has been passed, candidates can apply to their local board for licensing. More details on licensing can be found in the certification and licensure section below. 

Step 7: Earn Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Credential (Timeline Varies)

The last step to becoming a certified sex addiction therapist is to earn the credential from the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals. More details on licensing can be found in the certification and licensure section below.

What Do Certified Sex Addiction Therapists Do?

Certified sex addiction therapists work with clients who have been diagnosed with compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD). Typical places for employment include private clinics, outpatient treatment centers, community organizations, and even teletherapy sites. Day-to-day duties include:

  • Meeting one on one with clients to assess CSBD
  • Diagnosing patients’ mental health conditions
  • Providing therapeutic services to clients in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, couples counseling, or group therapy
  • Referring clients to other services should they need them
  • Maintaining careful client records
  • Billing insurance

Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Certifications & Licensure

Certified sex addiction therapist (CAST) credential awarded by the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). This is a voluntary credential and not required by state licensing boards. It can be advantageous when applying for jobs or to demonstrate to clients a high level of competency in this field. 

Unlike other certifications which are earned upon passing an exam, this certificate requires candidates to complete four training modules in sex addiction therapy. Each module takes four-and-a-half days to complete and costs $1,300 to $1,450 depending on when registration is submitted. 

In order to be eligible to take these modules, candidates must submit an application and have the following qualifications:

  • Be fully licensed to provide mental health therapy to clients without supervision. This can include social workers, psychologists, counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists
  • Have earned a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution
  • Complete five years of clinical work experience.

To provide sex addiction therapy services, professionals must also be licensed to provide mental health services in their states. This means that therapists must hold a license as a social worker, counselor, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Requirements for licensure vary based on the profession and state. However, typical requirements include:

  • Hold a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution
  • Complete supervised clinical work experience for a set number of hours
  • Pass a national level licensing exam 
  • Complete a background check

How Much Do Certified Sex Addiction Therapists Make?

There is not a specific designation for “certified sex addiction therapists” under the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are, however, included under the category of counselors, all others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), the 27,310 counselors in the US under this designation earn $50,800 per year on average. Here are the percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $29,120
  • 25th percentile: $35,190
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,760
  • 75th percentile: $61,700
  • 90th percentile: $79,030

Certified Sex Addiction Therapists Career Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives to a career as a certified sex addiction therapist. 

Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

Counselors who have specialized training in family systems, relationships, and couple dynamics are called marriage and family therapists. They may work with individuals, couples, or entire families to help them improve communication and solve problems. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree 
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB)

Become a Social Worker

Social workers exist for the sole purpose of helping people. They help in many capacities including, but not limited to, providing mental health services. Other help they may offer can include assistance with housing, referrals to other community organizations, aid in securing work, and ongoing case management to ensure their client is doing well. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)

Become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Licensed mental health counselors are the generalists of the mental healthcare landscape. They can specialize in any number of areas such as adolescents, LGBTQ, or even workplace dynamics, but most often they are available and trained to care for most clients. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

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