Melanie Sivley, LCSW

I am by nature an introvert and dislike being in the spotlight, so I'll keep this brief-ish. I grew up in Rogers Park in Chicago, moved to Oak Park for high school. I ‘ran away from home’ after high school by joining the army. Military Police of all things. Life was interesting for a few years. After the army, I ended up working at the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy in Rantoul, IL. I was a cross between a drill sergeant and a mom and I loved working with at-risk-youth.


Working at the Challenge started the journey that ended with my being a therapist. I bounced around a bit more before finally getting my bachelors and then my Masters of Social Work at U of I. By that time, I had the experience (read-I was getting older) to know it was time to start slowing down.


I started Melanie Sivley Counseling as soon as I gained that all important clinical license in 2012. While struggling to get my private practice launched, I found myself with more time than money. (A not uncommon occurrence for me.) I discovered our local Zen Center and my love for Zen Buddhism was born.( Honraku is actually my Dharma name given to me by my Zen Teacher. It means Original Joy. Joy is what I hope Honraku Academy brings to our community.)


I love being a therapist. It’s more than a job, it’s a calling. I work with all ages and a wide range of problems. I have specialized in anxiety in the past but recently I became an EMDR trained therapist and I am in the process of becoming EMDR certified. It’s incredibly useful in helping people who struggle with anxiety. EMDR's real power is in helping people process memories that are ‘stuck’. Trauma in all it's forms. Both 'big T' trauma's as well as the 'small t' traumas that almost all of us have experienced.

Community has always been important to me. Perhaps it's  because my mother is from Scotland and I grew up without an extended family of my own. Creating a community of therapists is my way of being able to work in a solitary job without feeling isolated.

Connecting our lager community with my clinical tribe felt like a natural extension. I've heard so many stories of people having difficulty finding their perfect therapist. I still see so much shame associated with struggling with mental health issues. Honraku Academy values both community building as well as educating people about mental health in an effort to break the shame cycle.