Assessing and Treating Sex Issues in Psychotherapy

Are You Comfortable, Competent, and Confident
Working with Sex Issues in Therapy?

If not, I can help.

Enroll in my 16-week online training and enter into a transformative journey. By the end of the training, you will:

    • Feel comfortable opening the conversation about sex with every client
    • Have a roadmap for how to continue the conversation with confidence, no matter which sex issues are presenting
    • Be able to separate tangles of symptoms with sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational components and move forward with an appropriately prioritized treatment plan
    • Ground your knowledge of sex and sexuality in accurate, hard-to-find information and effectively share that knowledge with your clients
    • Expertly use a variety of unique tools and interventions specifically designed to improve your effectiveness working with sex issues
    • Have a solid understanding of healthy sexuality and sexual function
    • Understand how to assess and treat, or effectively refer, many common (and uncommon!) sex issues
    • Know where to go for more information when you need it
    • Have multiple strategies for untangling and working with complex relational sex issues like desire discrepancy, changes in sexual function over the life span, and more
    • Know how to skillfully support differentiation in relationships, and understand why it is crucial to working with sex issues
    • Be able to approach sex issues from a non‐judgmental, non‐pathologizing, multifactorial framework
    • Understand anatomy and physiology of arousal and pleasure; provide accurate information to your clients, and integrate this information for more effective treatment
You will be well supported along the way. The learning experience includes: 
    • Lots of individual attention, feedback, and consultation to support your learning process—more than you will receive in almost any other course available today
    • Opportunities throughout the course to meet with Martha live, and get immediate feedback and advice on your toughest cases, no matter what time zone you’re in
    • Private online discussion groups where you and your colleagues can ask Martha questions, discuss cases, build your network, practice new skills, and support one another on the journey
    • An ever-expanding annotated list of books and online resources for further study, organized by topic for easy access when you need it
    • Access to an ever-expanding library of recorded interviews with experts in the field discussing a broad range of special topics, including working with out of control sexual behavior, sexuality in pregnancy and postpartum, understanding queer culture, lesbian sexuality, ADHD and sex, sexuality and clients on the Autism spectrum, working with polyamorous clients, erectile dysfunction, and much much more.

I hope you will join me for the 2022 group. Everyone experiences a sex-related challenge at some point in their lives, and most of them don’t need a specialist: they need you! Your clients need you to be able to discuss sex issues with competence, confidence, and comfort. I would love to provide the information you need to do that, and then support you on the journey as you put new skills into practice.

Who Am I and Why Am I Offering this Training?

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I’m Martha Kauppi—an AASECT-certified sex therapist and supervisor, a former midwife, and a lifelong educator whose private practice specializes in the intersection of sex and relational issues. I use and teach the Bader/Pearson Developmental Model of Couple Therapy, which incorporates concepts of attachment, differentiation, and neuroscience.

Did you know that most therapy clients with concerns about sex don’t need to see a specialist? What the vast majority do need is a comfortable and informed generalist who can discuss any issue—even sex—frankly, accurately, and directly. I’m working toward a world in which every client can find that kind of therapist, and I invite you to be part of that world. 

Being able to talk about sex will set you apart as a therapist and give you a competitive edge. More to the point, your clients will deeply appreciate your ability to identify a sex issue effectively and address it directly. 

Thousands of therapists have taken my courses, attended my talks, or been in consulting groups with me. I’ve worked with generalists who had never discussed sex with clients before, as well as with experienced sex therapists looking for new ways to conceptualize and work with sex issues. Students at every level have seen this course make a difference in their therapy practices and even in their personal lives.

This training unlike an information-based course about sexual dysfunction; nor is it focused on large theoretical concepts. My clinical focus will help you develop real skill and comfort talking and sex and working with a broad variety of sex issues in therapy. From the moment you sign up, you will have access to material you can use immediately to make a difference for your clients and your practice. And my team and I will be right there with you along the way to answer questions, consult as you apply new material, and support your journey.

The 2022 course starts as soon as you enroll

What you get from me:

    • A total of 10 learning modules, including study guides, print materials, video materials with transcripts and audio-only tracks, and both print and video materials for you to use with your clients. All modules are available to you immediately upon sign-up. That way, no matter what kind of case you’re working with, the information you need is at your fingertips, exactly when you need it.
    • 3 pre-scheduled in-person videoconferences (April 13, May 17, July 8), plus opportunities throughout the course to schedule meetings with me based on your own schedule, in any time zone. You will be able to ask me your questions in person, get to know your colleagues, process material, and get support when you need it. All of the videoconferences will be recorded for listening later (audio only) so you can learn from all of them, even those you are not able to attend in person.
    • A private online discussion group to share the journey, discuss material and cases, share links to resources, give and get feedback, form community, and network with your cohort, me, and my team.
    • Unlimited consultation with me and my team of expert teaching assistants on all your toughest sex-related cases, both in writing (in the online discussion group) and in-person (on videoconferences).
    • 22 CEUs approved by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, following a post-test.*
    • A detailed syllabus, list of learning objectives, and post-test which you can submit to your own professional organization to request CEUs (granting of CEUs is entirely at the discretion of each professional organization).
    • A certificate of completion, suitable for framing.
    • A badge of completion to display on your website, indicating that you are a therapist your clients can talk to about sex.

*This program meets the requirements of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and is approved for 22 CE credits. These CE credits may be applied toward AASECT certification and renewal of certification.

The 2021 course is full

Sign up for the waitlist to get notified as soon as enrollment opens again in 2022.

Join the waitlist

Course Outline

Assessing and Treating Sex Issues in Psychotherapy—Level 1

Module 1: Getting Under Way

    • Conceptualizing the case: emotional, spiritual, and relational aspects of sex issues
    • Meet your colleagues, start building community, connect with lab partners and learning community groups.
    • Get motivated for the journey by exploring the discussion group. You can read past case discussions and ask questions about your current clinical challenges.
    • Digest materials from the first module, including:
      • Process versus content: a powerful tool for holding steady when the going gets rough.
      • Language, ethics, and boundaries: how to tailor your approach and guide discussions about sex in ethical, appropriate ways.
      • Overview of brief assessment: initiating a frank conversation with confidence, using carefully crafted questions, and follow up skillfully with a deeper level of questions, no matter what issues are presenting.
    • Explore any of the other modules as the material become relevant to your current caseload, including listening to audio of previous class discussions, organized by topic
    • Watch interviews with experts on a broad range of topics related to sex and sexuality

Module 2: Healthy Sexuality and Sexual Health: Building a Solid Foundation for Treatment

    • Learn four components of healthy sexuality and their relevance to therapy
    • Explore the relationship between healthy sexuality and diverse sexual practices
    • Explore different meanings clients may have for sex and how/when to normalize sexual expression
    • Gain a nuanced understanding of consent: identify and work with consent violations, even subtle or complex ones that are easy to miss or misunderstand
    • Start thinking in terms of differentiation of self, in order to hone your ability to assess and treat relational issues related to sex
    • Conceptualizing the case: learn about the intersection of emotional, spiritual, and relational aspects of sex issues

Module 3: Three-Tier Assessment: identifying and Working with the Issues: Deep Dive Part 1

    • Know how to immediately identify and skillfully follow up on the most pressing issues revealed in your initial assessment
    • Understand and work effectively with desire issues in multiple contexts and learn to conceptualize desire issues through the lens of differentiation
    • Discover the underlying causes of low or inhibited desire
    • Understand how sex pain influences the system and how to help immediately and effectively

Module 4: Three-Tier Assessment: Identifying and Working with the Issues: Deep Dive Part 2

    • Learn several approaches to third-tier, in-depth assessment and when to use them
    • Catch potentially dangerous issues before they cause harm, and know how and when to make referrals for collaborative care
    • Approach tough arousal and orgasm issues from multiple angles
    • Integrate the 3-tier assessment strategy through clinical practice
    • Bonus: Watch a role play video of Martha assessing sex pain

Module 5: Pelvic Anatomy: Not Just for Reproduction

    • Update your knowledge of sexual anatomy for pleasure. Unless you’re either a sex geek or an anatomy geek, there may be some surprises here!
    • Understand sexual function so you can more deeply understand and more effectively work with sexual dysfunction
    • Discover how sexual function changes with age, stage, and circumstance, so you can help your clients build healthy sexual relationships that stay strong over the course of a lifetime
    • Bonus: Free video download: Martha teaches anatomy for reproduction, sexual function, and pleasure. Share it with your clients in session, so you don’t have to memorize or worry you forgot something important

Module 6: Linear versus Circular Model of Sex: Indispensable Key to Treating Any Sex Issue

    • Understand the cultural norm for “sex,” or the Linear Model, and how it actually creates sexual dysfunction
    • Learn how to use the circular model to help your clients have a satisfying and fulfilling sex life for a lifetime
    • Learn to present self-pleasure as a therapeutic intervention, understand the pros and cons, and know how to get the benefits without the drawbacks
    • Bonus: “Frequently Needed Facts” handout debunks myths that keep your clients stuck

Module 7: Supporting Progress with the Linear versus Circular Model of Sex: Toolbox

    • Prepare ahead of time for the pitfalls clients will encounter when exploring the Circular Model of Sex
    • Free your clients from finger-pointing and help start a collaborative conversation using the Dual Control Model
    • Access online assessments for you and your clients related to the Dual Control Model
    • Learn the Initiator/Inquirer process from the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy, a powerful strategy for supporting differentiation
    • Understand how to support differentiation and block regression when working with sexual challenges
    • Bonus: “What Does It Mean To Hold Steady?” printable handout for your clients
    • Bonus: Watch a video roleplay of the Initiator/Inquirer process in action

Module 8: Physiology of Arousal Deep Dive: Becoming a Sexual Problem-Solver

    • Learn how multiple body systems work together to create healthy sexual function
    • Discover three “magic bullets” for improving sexual function
    • Understand and share powerful strategies for improving sexual health as both prevention and treatment for sexual dysfunction
    • Know how and where an understanding of physiology fits into your treatment plan

Module 9: Desire Discrepancy: Pulling Together your Toolbox and Putting It into Practice

    • Tackle even the toughest desire discrepancy problems with finesse and understand how to sort out the physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and purely sexual aspects of complex sex issues
    • Gain confidence working with a wide range of presentations of desire and other sexual issues
    • Disarm the power struggle and negative feedback loop, and replace it with collaboration and positive reinforcement
    • Integrate learning applied to cases; identify opportunities for effective psychoeducation and intervention
    • Get clear on how to formulate a plan and proceed with confidence with any sex-related case

Bonus Module! Module 10: Working with Sexual Dysfunction

    • Learn a full range of medical, pharmacological, non-pharmacological, psychosexual, and relational treatments for every sexual dysfunction diagnosis in the DSM (and more!)
    • Consolidate your understanding of the underlying causes of sexual dysfunction from the previous modules, and use it to address root causes rather than simply alleviating symptoms.
    • Fill out a comprehensive worksheet for understanding and treating each sexual dysfunction so you can refer to it when it comes up in your practice.
    • Know which commonly-recommended treatments are effective, and which are not.
    • Learn how to assess new treatments for efficacy, based on your understanding of the deeper workings of sexual function and dysfunction.

New For 2022!

This year, for the first time ever, we are taking our videoconferences to the next level. In addition to 3 pre-scheduled videoconferences, you will have the ability to schedule videoconferences directly with Martha to dive deep into topics that are most relevant to you – at a time that fits your schedule.  Here’s how it works:

  • When you sign up, you will be paired with a supportive discussion group of your peers, based on your schedule.
  • In your discussion group, you will be able to talk about class material, ask each other questions, and practice at your convenience.
  • When a challenging topic surfaces in your discussion group, and you want Martha to contribute to the discussion, you will be able to schedule a live videoconference with her.
  • The group will choose a topic leader, who will select from available times on Martha’s schedule and post the discussion time and topic for the class.
  • All videoconferences will be open to all students live, and will also be recorded for those unable to attend.
  • The discussion group leading the session will introduce the topic and get Martha’s direct guidance and insights.
  • Other participants will also have an opportunity for Q and A and discussion.

All-New Bonus Course Materials:

This year, I’m creating a brand new module on working with sexual dysfunction. This module will provide you with the support you need for helping clients with every sexual dysfunction diagnosis in the DSM and more. You’ll learn what treatments exist, both medical and non-medical and pharmacological and non-pharmacological, master strategies for guiding your clients toward improved function, and come to understand why some treatments are effective, and others are not. You’ll also assess your scope of practice, and gain skills for more effective collaborative care when needed.

PLUS: You’ll get access to Interviews with Experts Series

I turned to some of the top experts in the field to bring you this series of interviews on thorny topics and special situations:

    • Doug Braun-Harvey offers expert guidance on working effectively with out-of-control sexual behavior
    • Amy Gilliland explains the history of pornography, and explains what the research tells us
    • Madelyn Esposito-Smith discusses treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
    • Amy Gilliland and Martha Kauppi discuss sex issues related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period
    • Lin Jovanovich offers guidance for helping clients have “the sex talk” with their kids
    • Lori Collins shares advice for helping new parents keep a strong connection
    • Ellen Barnard discusses how to maintain a healthy sex life over the course of a lifespan
    • Ari Tuckman explains how coping with ADHD can affect your clients’ sex lives
    • Madeline Barger offers guidance for treating sex issues in clients with autism spectrum disorders
    • Martha Kauppi discusses what therapists need to know to work effectively with polyamory
    • Ellen Barnard takes a deep dive into Q&A regarding physiology of arousal
    • Yana Tallon-Hicks discusses what therapists need to know about queer sexuality and culture
    • And much much more! Expert interviews are added throughout the course session. Tell me what you want me to include, and I’ll do my best to find an expert and interview them!

Sign up now


Q: What is the difference between this course and other online offerings about sex?

A: I designed my course to bridge the gap between having information and actually using it. To that end, I teach the information you need in order to think more clearly about sex issues, and I include practical, effective, immediately applicable tools you can put to use in your practice. Plus, my course offers a community building/lab partner aspect, so you can practice the new skills in a safe environment and get all your questions answered before using them with clients. I want you to be able to begin building confidence by experiencing success right from the start. I provide plenty of hard-to-find accurate information about sex, but always in the context of interventions I’m presenting, application to cases, and a framework of clear case conceptualization.

Q: How much individualized attention does this course include?

A: Lots! I want you to have the support you need as you put new ideas and techniques into practice. Whenever you get stuck or have a question or challenging case, I’ll be there. On top of the three pre-scheduled videoconferences, you’ll be given the opportunity to schedule meetings with me, so that we can meet “in-person,” discuss cases, and get to know one another, no matter what time zone you’re in. Plus, we will help you make professional connections, network, practice applying the material, and get support from the entire community throughout the course. On top of that, my crack team of expert teaching assistants will be responding to cases and questions on the forum, and my assistant, Amelia, is on call to make sure you never lose your password or get locked out of the site! I recognize you are taking a leap into new territory, and as you begin to apply the material in your own practice, I and my team are here to help. We care a lot about your happiness and success.

Q: Who is the ideal candidate for this course?

A: Whether you’re a generalist who wants to nail down the basics of assessing and treating sex issues and expand your practice, or a sex therapist who wants to brush up, learn fresh ways to conceptualize cases, and pick up some new tools for working with complex and overlapping issues, this course has plenty to offer. If you believe sex should be normalized and is an important topic to include in therapy, you are the ideal participant. If you work with desire discrepancy and don’t feel as effective as you would like to be, this will also be a great course for you. If you never had any training in doing therapy with sex issues, my course will repair that omission, as it is skills-based and information-dense. If you like to have lots of support, easy access to consultation, and a group of colleagues learning right beside you as you try new things, this course is definitely for you. If you have been wanting to consult with me about cases, but cannot swing my consulting fee, this course is also a way to access me for 16 weeks.

Q: How much time will it take?

A: Past participants tell me around 2-3 hours per week. You’ll be given access to all 10 modules as soon as you sign up, so you can progress through them as quickly or as slowly as you want; if you get through about one module every two weeks, however, you’ll be perfectly on schedule. I also encourage you to set aside time for getting and receiving support through the online forum, because I think interaction with your colleagues, me, and my team provides significant value and will help you feel supported as you try new things. This course is designed to help you work with most every common sex issue that’s likely to arise in your therapy room. For that reason, it includes lots of problem-specific material you may not need to digest immediately. That’s why I offer robust resource lists and downloadable material, so that the information is ready for you right when you need it, including several years from now. 

Q: Can I get CEUs?

A: My course is approved for 22 CEUs from the American Association of Sexuality Counselors, Educators, and Therapists,* with active participation and after completion of a post-test and evaluation. If you want to request CEUs from your own professional organization, you may take the post-test, and I will give you a certificate of completion with a detailed syllabus and learning objectives to support your request. Your professional organization guidelines should give you a good indication of whether they will accept my course and/or AASECT credits for CEUs, but I cannot guarantee or predict the outcome.

*This program meets the requirements of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and is approved for 22 CE credits. These CE credits may be applied toward AASECT certification and renewal of certification.

Q: Will I have to self-disclose?

A: No. Never. I will not ask personal questions, and I do not expect you to disclose anything personal. If you have a question about anything at all regarding sex, sexuality, or working with sex issues in therapy, I’m happy to answer, and I do not need to know if you are asking on your own behalf or a client’s. However, if you are interested in discussing your own personal blocks and challenges, there is certainly room for you to do that in this course. The smaller groups, discussion board, and videoconferences are supportive environments designed to support your growth.

Q: Do I need to know a lot about sex before taking your course?

A: Not at all. My course will provide you with a lot of accurate information about sex so you will feel confident moving forward. All you will need to have is some desire to have frank conversations about sex in the service of being effective working with related issues. My course is entirely suitable for participants with no experience working with sex issues.

Q: What if I already have quite a bit of experience working with sex issues? Will your course still benefit me?

A: I have worked with lots of experienced sex therapists who have gotten value from my course. However, if you have doubts, please send me an email and we can discuss your particular circumstances and goals in more detail. I am very committed to delivering value, and to that end, I am happy to help you figure out if my course is a good fit for you.

Q: Are there any resources available for students who can’t afford the full price?

A: Yes. I have a number of reduced-fee scholarships available. I award these scholarships to highly motivated or otherwise extraordinary students who have demonstrated need, and who plan to “pay it forward” by using the information in the course to serve their communities and the world. If you think this describes you, see the application criteria here.

I’m using what I learned with Martha every single time I do a workshop or a retreat…It’s truly making a difference for people.

Bri McCarroll, MSW, LICSW

Martha is a fantastic teacher. It was clear from the beginning how experienced she is.

Sarah Ludington, LPC, Denver CO

Martha made herself so available for us… her very calm and matter-of-fact approach to this topic creates an openness and acceptance in the class environment I have seldom experienced with other teachers.

Alexa Elkington, MFT, Las Vegas, NV

She’s the complete expert in what she does, and has a way of making complicated subjects really easy to understand.

Nancy St John, couples counselor, Ireland

A no-holds-barred real life, real issues, real conversations look at intimacy struggles and how to engage couples who are entrenched in unsatisfying interactions with no way out.

Rev. Erich Moraine, Certified IFS practitioner, Milwaukee, WI

This course is one that I believe every therapy practitioner should take. I feel more confident as a practitioner, both raising the subject of sexual issues and attending to my clients’ questions and concerns. Martha was attentive to all questions and encouraged participation, which built a very strong learning community. I’m also grateful for all of the excellent handouts, resources and suggested reading material. I highly recommend this course!

Brenda Kerr Minno, LMFT, LMHC, Washington

Martha’s course material is excellent, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy having access to quality information. I am asking my clients about sex more often, and am becoming more relaxed in my approach to it. I put a link to Sex Resources on my website’s homepage, and consequently, I am getting more clients who have issues pertaining to sexuality. It’s great!

Caron Smith, MSW, Victoria, Canada

Martha Kauppi’s brilliant course for therapists has invigorated and enhanced my practice with couples and individuals enormously. My clients benefit by my growing ability to address specific issues of concern in their sex lives. Myths and biases are replaced with facts and applicable approaches for change. I was amazed how comfortable my clients and I became with addressing these issues. Martha is so generous and welcoming with her information and abundant resources, experience, online seminar leadership, and knowledge. My only regret is that I had not taken this course earlier.

Dian Rains Allen, Ph.D., MFT, LPCC, Vallejo California

This course is so comprehensive. The information provided progressed so that anyone, even without any background on this topic, could still establish a baseline of knowledge to develop a level of competency. Excellent course!

Helene Beddingfield, RN, ATR, LMFT, Fair Oaks, CA

Martha’s course is deeply informative, but also highly relatable for someone like myself without previous sex therapy training. I feel like I reference something that I learned in 80% of my sessions (and in my personal life, as well!)

Julie Gladnick, MA, LMFT, Denver, CO

Martha provides a very safe learning environment for what can be a sensitive subject. She not only explains why therapists should open the door to a dialogue about sexuality, but also provides an incredibly effective screening tool and information about what to do or ask, as many different scenarios unfold in sessions. As my knowledge base grew exponentially, I learned many ways to help my clients articulate what they want with regard to sex and how partners can express this to each other. Martha gives a tremendous amount of herself and her knowledge to the course and she is committed to each person’s learning and understanding. This is very clearly her passion.

Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP,
Pottstown, PA

Hi, Martha, I just wanted to let you know that I had my first ‘circular model of sex’ discussion with two men. If you had told me a year ago that I would do this, I would’ve said you were nuts. Thank you!!

CG, LMFT, Licensed in MN and WI

Martha has an incredible talent to teach complicated material in a digestible way. Every time I have heard Martha present, I have implemented what I have learned in my sessions right away. I am incredibly grateful for all I have learned from Martha and believe the couples I work with have benefited from all she has taught me.

Kelly Scharver, Couples Counselor, Virginia

My confidence and clarity in addressing sex and sexuality issues has grown greatly over this 16 weeks. Many thanks, Martha, for your clarity of education and generosity in sharing your expertise.

Vivian, M. Couns., PACFA Reg. Clinical, Sydney, Australia

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Money-Back Guarantee

Nobody should pay for something they feel isn’t benefiting them. If at any time during the first  30 days of the course you feel you are not becoming more effective, knowledgeable, and comfortable talking about sex effectively with your clients, I will happily give you a full refund, no questions asked.