How Melissa's Therapist Career Began

25 years ago Melissa knew she wanted to be a therapist. Her passion started from her great-grandma teaching her the importance of helping others no matter what background, race, gender, sexuality, or story a person has to share. Melissa would watch her go out of her way for people, such as packing a lunch for the local garbage man or giving money to the homeless woman on the corner. Her great-grandmother not only inspired her to take the time to learn about others, but to value the importance that each and every one of us brings to the table. 


Melissa's Career Today

A prominent voice in the effort to reverse the stigma of how we learn about mental & sexual health, Melissa Risso has worked extensively as a therapist within the San Francisco Bay & Los Angeles area. Versed in tending to the needs of a wide demographic range, Melissa has worked with organizations focusing on Alzheimer’s, domestic violence, women’s shelters, crisis lines, and teen rehabilitation centers. Melissa has offered her expertise to multiple Bay Area school districts ranging from preschool to college— working with children on the spectrum, counseling at College of San Mateo, teaching Human Sexuality courses to graduate-level counseling psychology Master’s students, operating a private practice located in San Mateo, and her most recent work surrounding sex therapy.



Melissa chose sex therapy because of the importance of proper education about sex without the stigma. She finds it honorable that clients entrust their deepest concerns with her, and she is a contributing expert for Exaholics. She is certified in Gottman Therapy Levels 1 & 2; the California domestic violence counselor training, and a UCLA leadership award winner for her groundbreaking work. Melissa graduated from UCLA in 2007 and Santa Clara University in 2010 with honors for her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a health emphasis. She is currently attending the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, CA for her expected Ph.D. in Human Sexuality. Melissa's latest project is her podcast, “Let’s Do it with Melissa Risso,” which aims to help promote positive conversations around both mental and sexual health.


Articles Melissa Has Been Featured In

"7 Signs You're with the Wrong Partner"



"8 Tips for Couples Enjoying Their First Vacation Together"



"Can Having a Baby Resolve Marital Infidelity?"

The Hudsucker


"Can You Have a Happy Marriage Without Sex?"

The Hudsucker


"How to Be a Great Ex After a Breakup"



"Taking the EX Out of Sex"



"Melissa Risso takes you through a Sensual exploration of your Senses"

Pillow (App on iTunes)


San Francisco Bay Area Personal Branding



  • California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)- Current Student


        Ph.D., Human Sexuality

        2016- Expected 2021


  • Santa Clara University (SCU)

       Master's, Counseling    
       Psychology; Health Emphasis

      2007 – 2010


  • The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

       Bachelor's, Sociology;
       2005 – 2007



Organizations & Honors


  • American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists (AASECT) Certified Sex Therapist

  • American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists (AASECT) Certified Sexuality Educator

  • UCLA Bruin Leadership Award


  • California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists (CAMFT) Member

  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH) member


  • National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) Member


  • Santa Clara Valley-CAMFT Chapter Member


  • SCV-CAMFT Board Director 2014-2016


  • Society for Sex Therapy & Research (SSTAR) Member


  • Certified California Domestic Violence Educator


  • Gottman Therapy Therapist- Completion of Levels 1 & 2


  • One Love™ Facilitator 


  • UCLA Alumni Association Member

  • 2018 CAMFT Clinton E. Phillips Award Winner

  • 2014 Mills Peninsula Award Winner

Learn more about Melissa on 

Psychology Today 

 by clicking here