In honor of my friend and colleague, Dr. Amie Harwick, MFT
Valentines Day will forever be dedicated to you ♥️
“Can I take you to lunch?” She asked me via email. “I’m going to miss your talk and I’m interested in becoming a sex therapist, too.”
I was speaking at my alma mater about my work as a sex therapist. It was 2012.
I was often invited as a guest speaker to teach graduate psychology students not just about my work as a sex therapist but also about how one becomes a sex therapist.
“Sure.” I responded. I am always excited to meet budding and aspiring sex therapists. She had also included her resume, so I thought maybe she was interested in working in my private practice.
We met for lunch at Aroma, a cafe in Studio City. I remember thinking she was pretty, beautiful, glamorous. I felt frumpy next to her. Outdated and with bad style.
We ordered. I ordered the Cobb salad. She ordered a Brie sandwich on sourdough with slices of green apples. She told me about herself. She loves music and I told her I was also a musician. We bonded over that. She had many passions. She loved dancing, fitness, modeling - among so many other things I would learn about over the years.
She was interested in becoming a sex therapist, which I loved and I mentioned coming to work with me as a pre-licensed therapist at my private practice.
“Self employment is great, and there’s more money to be made.”
“Maybe.” She shrugged. “I might want to work a DMH job.”
I was surprised.
DMH or rather Department of Mental Health in Los Angeles County funds a lot of agency based work in the non-profit sector. The experience can be great, but the work load does not match the pay. DMH employees are often overworked and underpaid. The clients are often reluctant participants, court ordered, mandated, youth etc.
To each their own, I thought. I also knew that she may have to learn the hard way. By experiencing it herself.
“It’s so nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time.”
“Likewise, thank you for lunch and hit me up if you change your mind and decide you want to go into private practice.”
I already had one intern, and was excited about the prospect of growing my business, my group practice. Amie seemed a perfect fit.
We kept in touch mostly via social media and she would occasionally call or text.
After graduating, Amie had not only landed a job at DMH, she got a hefty stipend from them which would help her pay down her student loans. She was excited. She was going to be working at a juvenile prison. She was nervous but grateful. I congratulated her. Although I was still confused. I had myself worked in DMH and found it to be soul sucking. I hoped she’d come around. Working for myself in private practice was so much better. More fulfilling. More money. More opportunity to be myself and spread my message.
I sighed, as I hung up the phone. Different strokes for different folks.
And then a few months later around April 2013, Amie called me in tears.
She had yet to start her DMH job when someone hacked into her computer (she believed it to be an old boyfriend who was still angry with her) and sent the agency nude photos of her - modeling photos she had done recently but that were private. Modeling was empowering for her and something that she did for herself and her personal growth. She was devastated. Of course DMH rescinded their offer and she had to give the stipend back. They cited their reason being that the job entailed working with children. But we knew better.
And, now she was out of a job and wondered what to do.
I offered for her to come work for me again. I reminded her, “in private practice as a sex therapist you can be yourself. Your other work, your modeling can be seen as an asset, not a detriment. You can make more money and be more impactful.”
She called me two days later and said, “Yes, I want to work with you.”
Amie worked at my practice from April 2013- May 2014, one year exactly, under my supervision. And she knocked it out of the park. She knew a lot of people, so word got out real fast and her practice was full within two months. And, within 6 months she was also getting her first book published!
In 2014, I closed up shop and moved to New York City to write music for two years. Amie had to switch to a new supervisor which she did quite seamlessly. I missed her book launch and signing party. Later that year, while I was in New York, she helped me land my first publishing deal with the same company - Quiver Books. And, by the time I came back to LA in 2016, Amie was flourishing as a sex therapist in private practice. She was licensed now, doing TV spots, and speaking all over the world.
Over the next few years Amie and I collaborated as colleagues. We shared clients, and media speaking opportunities. She invited me to her events. Her holiday parties and her engagement party to Drew. We referred clients to each other and chatted about work. We were in constant contact.
In 2018, we flew to St Louis together and shared a hotel room for 4 days at the AASECT (American Association of Sex Ecuators, Counselors and Therapists) summer intensive. We came back and shot some videos together in her backyard. She was inspired more than ever to continue doing this work.
In the summer 2019, we recorded a handful of videos for my youtube channel, The Sex Talk.
We saw each other for two speaking gigs back to back in October of 2019.
Pineapple Support and a Sex Education fair at USC.
At USC, we all had our own booths - a few of us sex therapists. Amie brought so much swag. Condoms, spanking sticks, brochures. She had a very informative and lively booth. I also filmed her doing her talk that afternoon. As she was leaving she told me she was meeting with our mutual friend, another sex therapist, to go on her podcast that evening.
It was also the last time I saw Amie.
Amie’s career was flourishing. She invited me to her holiday party at her new home that year 2019, but I was living in Portland by now and had to miss it.
Amie was murdered by a former scorned lover on Valentines Day, 2020.
A bright light went out forever. Not just in my life. In everyone’s lives.
Watch The CBS episode of 48 Hours here.
Last month, I launched my online training program. Now, in addition to providing direct supervision to pre-licensed therapists, I oversee a course that helps therapists coaches and other professionals alike to become sex, intimacy and relationship experts and run their own businesses. Similar to supervision, the hefty and intensive course provides access to my teachings and trainings, plus weekly group coaching calls, but reaches a broader group.
We launched our first cohort - an all scholarship group - last Thursday Feb 10th, 2022. I did not plan this, but it’s not lost on me that this first cohort is starting just days from the 2 year anniversary of Amie’s death.
In honor of Amie, I’m starting a scholarship fund for students who qualify. Students can apply for the scholarship to take the course. And, of course the first cohort are all scholarship students in her honor, since Amie was my first co-hort of interns.
I only supervised Amie for one year but the better part was watching her flourish and thrive as a sex therapist in her own right, over the years that followed! She was an amazing, devoted sex therapist, advocate and activist for women, partners, and relationships.
I miss you, Amie. 💔
I hope you’re eating Ice Cream in the sky.
Happy Valentines Day, where ever you are.