About Melanie

It’s important to ‘click’ with your therapist, so it might be useful to know a little about me. I’m originally from Chicago, but joined the army after high school. People that didn’t know me back then find this almost impossible to believe, but I was military police. Being in the army was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done.

I bounced around for a bit after my honorable discharge. Eventually I ended up in Rantoul, IL working at the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy. I always describe myself as a cross between a drill sergeant and a mom during that time. Working with at-risk-youth was incredibly rewarding. My time at the Challenge was what finally set me on my path to becoming a therapist.

During this time, I had my own path to find. While in the army, I got really good at drinking. Before I was able to help others, I had to learn to help myself. I have found my own journey in recovery to be immensely helpful for my clients.

I received my Masters of Social Work from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I worked in a wide variety of community mental health settings before settling into private practice. This includes my internship at the Pavilion, my time as a youth crisis worker and working with all ages in community mental health agencies. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with such diverse populations. This has allowed me to really understand what areas of counseling I excel in.

I am an active student of Zen Buddhism. Daily mediation time along with sustained periods of mediation at our local Zen Center in Champaign, IL has a deep impact on my work with clients. I am able to be fully present while in session. Buddhism is the foundation for many coping skills, from mindfulness to being present in the body to deep breathing exercises. Zazen (Zen meditation) is the ultimate grounding exercise.

Recently, I attended the 40 hour training for EMDR. This has had a profound impact on my work with clients. I was so impressed with the power of EMDR that I have continued my education by pursuing my certification in EMDR. This is a long, intense process which moves clinicians from being competent in EMDR to expert. EMDR is useful in so many aspects of therapy. It can increase resiliency, decrease anxiety and of course, it can reprocess and put to rest once and for all past traumatic memories.

My Counseling Approach

We all need extra support from time to time. I work with college students and adults. I believe we are equal partners in the therapy process. My education and experience can help guide you on your healing journey, but you are the ultimate authority on your life and your goals.

I’ve been told by my clients that I am authentic and direct during sessions. My clients appreciate that I am compassionate and non-judgemental. They feel safe with me and know that I can hold space for them and all of their emotions, thoughts and beliefs.

Although the therapeutic relationship is the most important part of therapy. I use cognitive behavioral therapy to help shift negative thinking patterns. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is invaluable. (You can read more about EMDR here).