I am passionate about helping my clients get connected to what I call their “personal power”. It doesn’t seem to matter what the presenting problems are, i.e., addiction, trauma, anxiety, depression, etc. To achieve recovery from any of these issues, I believe a person must recognize their own sense of self worth and develop a practice of self-compassion. To achieve this requires a lot of unraveling: challenging a person’s beliefs about the world and themselves, encouraging vulnerability and helping the client find the courage to show up as their authentic self, to get rid of the masks and self-defeating behaviors. This process takes time, a lot of trust in me and the therapeutic process as well as a determined commitment to stay “naked and afraid” outside of one’s comfort zones.
The majority of my clients work with me well over a year so that they have the time to develop the trust, to work outside of the session to practice new behaviors and to heal from past trauma and hurts.
I believe we are each on our own journey in this life and that it is my role, as a counselor, to support, gently nudge and challenge each person I work with to live their life fully with their personal power. One of my greatest joys as a counselor is to witness that moment when everything “clicks” and comes together for my client. When they release shame and develop self-love. And, when they are able to feel the freedom of showing up authentically.
I do my very best to model authenticity and “showing up” with my clients. I keep it real. I don’t use counseling jargon; my paperwork is very client centered and I allow and support setbacks and “failures”. I think this is one of my greatest gifts I have to offer my clients: my ability to quickly establish rapport and to create an environment of safety and nurturing.
I have extensive experience with addictions (drugs, sex, gambling, relationships) although my approach might seem unconventional to some in the addiction field. There are a lot of times I work with a client for months before they are ready to commit to sobriety. I support their struggle and their ambivalence while at the same time doing my best to highlight the rewards of sobriety. I don’t believe there is just one path to sobriety, such as traditional AA meetings. For any addict, recovery is really all about learning how to live life on life’s terms. This involves getting feelings unstuck, understanding one’s feelings and a skill set of how to express them in a healthy way. My compass, with all of my clients, is the Serenity Prayer and the art of acceptance and letting go.
I also work with people who have a history of trauma. I am an EMDR trained therapist. I am also currently working on achieving my certification as an EMDR therapist. The level of certification distinguishes those in the EMDR field as ones who have advanced trainings and ongoing consultations. I have found the use of EMDR to be a “game changer” for individuals wanting to heal from trauma.
I also work with people struggling with anxiety, depression and the “weary well” who are simply individuals wanting to become the best version of themselves. I work only with adults and accept BCBS and Health Alliance as well as private pay.
I’m married to a great man whose support, unconditional love and encouragement allow me to do the work I do with my clients. We like to travel, hike in nature, see movies or spend time with friends. We recently adopted a cat, Bodhi, and have one-year old dog, Goji. I have a daughter who is 21 and is living her dream by working at the Champaign County Humane Society in their medical department. We are a family of animal lovers!
Fun Fact: I’m a licensed cosmetologist (!) and volunteer with CU at Home by cutting our friends without an address hair. You wouldn’t believe how a simple haircut can transform a person, inside and out. It fills me with great joy to use my skills with people who otherwise might not have access to a basic hygienic need.
Tonya Lawyer is a licensed clinical professional counselor and owner of Evolution Counseling Center in Champaign, IL.
Tonya M. Lawyer, M.A., LCPC
206 N. Randolph, Suite 405
Champaign, IL 61820