In the Spotlight-Melanie Sivley, LCSW

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

We have such an amazing community of therapists. Reaching out to a therapist you don't know is scary! The member spotlight was created to help our community get to know the therapists in Central Illinois and to promote mental health wellness. With that in mind, it makes sense that I should be the first in the spotlight. So with no further I am!

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 my private practice 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.

You know those memories that hold emotion? Just thinking about the event holds the same emotions now as they did back than. Those are the 'stuck' memories that suck you back into that moment. EMDR processes those memories so you don’t have to live in them anymore. Learning EMDR has shifted the focus of my entire practice. It has been a life changing experience for me and for my clients. (You can learn more about EMDR in this blog post.)

Once my private practice was finally running smoothly, I started looking around for my next challenge. As a therapist in a solo private practice, I found myself fairly isolated. I wanted to connect with my tribe but there didn't really seem to be a central place to do that. And thus Honraku Academy was born. I created a clinician FB group and organize meetups for us. We had our first therapist retreat in Sept. and I am in the process of organizing quality conferences for therapists so that we can learn new skills to bring back to our clients.

At some point, I realized that in addition to our therapist community not having a cohesive center, our larger community in Central IL didn't know much about local therapists. Providing education about mental health issues along with promoting mental health well being is a passion for me. For those reasons, with the help of some amazing clinicians in our community, the therapist directory was created. (Is being created as of Jan. 2020)

My vision for the therapist directory is to have a central place for people to find real, local therapists. Learn about who they are and the services they offer and to help anyone in need connect with their perfect therapist. The blog is the icing on the cake. The blog is where you get to get know all the beautiful therapists in our community while we talk about all things mental health.

Although I am the founder of Honraku Academy, I truly see this as a community effort. I value others suggestions, so please feel free to drop me a line! For Honraku Academy, I can be reached at

In addition to creating Honraku Academy, Melanie Sivley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Champaign, IL. She is a student of Zen Buddhism and specializes in Anxiety, Depression and Trauma. She is EMDR trained and currently pursuing her EMDR certification.

Melanie Sivley, LCSW

206 N. Randolph, Suite 505B

Champaign, IL 61820


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