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How to become a psychosexual therapist uk

A sex therapist helps people with sexual problems.

Sex therapists are qualified counsellors, doctors or healthcare professionals who have done extra training in helping people with problems relating to sex.

Why do people have sex therapy?

Lots of people have a problem with sex at some point in their life. Some people can help themselves. For others, sexual problems can cause a lot of distress and unhappiness.

A sex therapist can help people with various sexual problems, including:

  • lack of desire
  • difficulty having an orgasm
  • pain during sex or inability to have penetrative sex
  • difficulty getting or keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • premature ejaculation or other ejaculation problems

What happens in a sex therapy session?

A sex therapist will listen to you describe your problems and assess whether the cause is likely to be psychological, physical or a combination of the two.

Each therapy session is confidential. You can see a sex therapist by yourself, but if your problem affects your partner as well, it may be better for you both to attend.

Talking about and exploring your experiences will help you get a better understanding of what is happening and the reasons. The therapist may also give you exercises and tasks to do with your partner in your own time.

Sessions usually last for 30 to 50 minutes. The therapist may advise you to have weekly sessions or to see them less frequently, such as once a month.

How can I find a sex therapist?

If you have a sexual problem, it’s a good idea to see a GP first as they can check for any physical causes. The GP can refer you to a sex therapist if they think it will help you. However, sex therapy is not available on the NHS in all areas, and an NHS clinic may only offer a limited number of therapy sessions.

You can also find a sex therapist privately, which you’ll need to pay for. It’s important to see a qualified registered therapist. Look for one who is a member of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) or the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.

Organisations such as Relate also offer sex therapy for a fee.

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Page last reviewed: 9 December 2019
Next review due: 9 December 2022

All course materials will be available via Blackboard, our online learning platform. Year 1 is taught on campus during week-long modules. The delivery involves lectures, discussions, presentations, ‘flipped classes’ and skills based teaching.

Year 2 is delivered in the same way, but includes more practice-based sessions whilst on placement. During Year 2 you’ll undertake a placement in order to complete 200 hours of clinical work seeing clients and patients within an agreed psychosexual clinic or setting.

During Years 3 and 4 you’ll complete a further 250 hours. Placements are generally within Lancashire and the North West of England. However, they may be negotiated elsewhere within the UK.

These hours mean that COSRT’s clinical requirements will have been met, and you’ll then need to complete one further year of clinical work (post-graduation) in order to be able to apply for COSRT Accreditation.

Counsellors and psychotherapists who are BACP Accredited will be able to reduce this total.

How to become a counsellor with us.

To become a counsellor with us, you’ll likely need to have already begun your counselling training. 

  • For our Diploma in Relationship Counselling, you will need a Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies. It would be beneficial to have experience (paid or voluntary) working with an organisation such as the Samaritans or Childline, or in a similar supporting role.  
  • For our Post-Qualifying Certificate in Relational Counselling, it’s likely that you have completed (or are about to complete) a recognised Level 4 (or above) Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling or Psychotherapy. And as part of this completed a 100 hour supervised clinical placement.  

As a qualified counsellor or practitioner we offer training to deliver in specialised service areas

I have a degree, does this mean I am eligible for the Diploma?

Unfortunately, having a degree doesn’t make you eligible for our Diploma in Relationship Counselling. Instead, you’ll need the qualifications outlined above as they are practical and counselling focused rather than academic or theoretically focused. Counselling is a relational activity which depends on personal qualities, self-awareness and soft skills such as the ability to build a trusting relationship, work with difference and diversity and to convey emphatic understanding. These aspects are not included or assessed in most degree programmes (including psychology degrees) and have to be learned and developed in a very different learning context.

If you have studied a counselling degree, with the opportunity to practice developing your counselling skills, or you feel you have relevant qualifications, then do get in touch with us so we can discuss this further.

What is the criteria for a clinical placement?

For the practise element of the training you will need to secure a student placement at a Relate Centre. Your supervision will be provided by them. 

I am already a qualified counsellor in private practice, can I use my private practice as my placement?

No, this is not appropriate for a student relationship counsellor as there will be no assessment or referral process for appropriate casework. 

As well as training our own practitioners, we recruit people who are already qualified counsellors and have the required qualifications and experiences to work for one of our mainstream services. If you are already a qualified counsellor, you may already have sufficient qualifications and experience to work for us. Check out our APEL list to find out. 

The following is intended as a helpful guide and reflects the best of our knowledge, at the time of publication. Each training organisation & regulatory body has its own selection criteria. We advise you to confirm all information directly with courses and professional organisations (updated: September 2022).

Applicants for the training access us from a variety of backgrounds: usually this includes a qualification in counselling, psychotherapy or medicine or for those new to the field with a minimum of 120 hrs foundation certificate, such as our own Foundation Certificate.

Following successful completion of the LDPRT course, you may apply for registration with COSRT, a specialist accrediting body for psychosexual and relationship therapy), or you may lean more generalist accreditation in counselling or psychotherapy (such as with BACP, NCS, NCIP).

LDPRT provides a substantive contribution towards either pathway. To gain access to the Accredited Register (Professional Standards Authority), via one of the more general counselling accrediting bodies, our graduates normally complete a three year pathway (London Diploma plus the NAOS Advanced Diploma in Couples Therapy into accreditation with the National Counselling Society (NCS). NCS accredits the London Diploma training; an alternative might be to complete the foundation year plus the London Diploma and to accredit with the National Council for Integrative Psychotherapy NCIP.

Successful completion of the two year LDPRT, taken together with the one-year Advanced Diploma in Couples Therapy ( is in total fulfilment of the requirements for NCS accreditation and for the Accredited Register of the Professional Standards Board (PSA)

How long does it take to become a registered member of COSRT?
Please consult the web links below:

Graphic showing routes to qualification as a psychosexual and relationship therapist

The above flowchart is intended as a helpful guide, is subject to change, and reflects the best of our knowledge, at the time of publication. Updated: September 2022.

The following is intended as a helpful guide and reflects the best of our knowledge, at the time of publication. Each training organisation and regulatory body has its own criteria for selection. This is intended as a helpful guide. However, we advise you to check the websites of courses and professional organisations, as you should be mindful that lead bodies regularly adjust and change their requirements. The profession continually strives to adjust and manage its regulations in order to offer clients the best service.

The CICS two-year Diploma in Clinical Sexology comprises Years 2 and 3 of Qualification Pathway 1 and Years 1 and 2 of Qualification Pathway 2.

The course covers the combined bio-psycho-social dimensions of sexual and relationship health and wellbeing. It has been designed to ensure that by the end of the programme our graduates have a solid foundation of comprehensive knowledge and skills for confident therapeutic practice with psychosexual and relationship problems.

Gender, sexual, relationship and cultural diversity are fully integrated into all aspects of the course.

Our course is accredited by the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, meaning that it meets the stringent requirements of the UK’s largest accrediting body for sex and relationship therapists.

The therapeutic theoretical orientation of the course is “pluralism”. Pluralism is an emerging way of thinking about therapy, based on the fundamental assumption that no one therapeutic approach has the monopoly on understanding the causes of distress or on the most helpful therapeutic responses. Instead, it suggests that different clients are likely to want, and benefit from, different things in therapy.  We teach a range of contemporary approaches to therapy, to best serve each unique client, whilst maintaining the centrality of the client, relational working and research based practice.

We take a blended learning approach to all of our courses, combining comprehensive home study materials with live practice based, experiential training days.

The September 2023 course runs monthly on Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 5pm. This is a hybrid access intake course, with in person and Zoom attendance available subject to the Course Access Policy.