Devon Lawrence is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing remote therapy sessions to clients throughout Virginia and Arizona. With over 12 years of experience in both community-based and private practice settings, Devon has extensive experience working with individuals and couples on anxiety, depression, grief/loss, and addiction. He regularly utilizes a variety of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and mindfulness-based therapies, to equip his clients with the coping skills they need to achieve a more relaxed and clear state of mind.
We asked Devon more about his work with clients and his guiding philosophies on therapy.
Devon’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
At one point in my undergraduate studies, I was an industrial design major and, ironically, became interested in psychology as a result of learning how the visual arts affect mood and emotions. My interest in becoming a therapist grew as I became more aware of my own emotional and psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and addiction. But, largely because of those issues, it took another 17 years and a lot of work for me to get to a point in my life at which I could actually go back to school for a MSW graduate degree.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I worked for a community behavioral health company in northeastern Arizona for nine years (6 1/2 years in their inpatient facility and 2 1/2 years in an outpatient facility).
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
It may sound strange, but I really enjoy fixing things. It brings a lot of satisfaction when I'm able to do what is needed to make something that is not working, or not working right, work again. I also enjoy going to National Parks and other places of peace and beauty.
Devon’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Because feeling safe is essential for healing to occur, creating a safe space for clients is a high priority. Helping clients learn how to provide safety for themselves is a central part of what I do in therapy, yet it is an aspect of therapy that often takes a back seat to other therapeutic interventions.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I prefer to work with adults (18+), and I find that I do my best work with people who feel marginalized in some way. Perhaps that is because I have felt marginalized a lot in my life due to my disability (autism spectrum disorder).
Can you tell us more about your specialties in anxiety/depression?
The problem with anxiety is that people really don't like feeling it, so they often fight it in an effort to get rid of it. Unfortunately, fighting or resisting anxiety actually makes it worse, so giving people effective coping strategies and helping people get out of the struggle are important first steps in treating anxiety. As is the case with most mental health issues, trauma is often at the root of the anxiety. Depression is also commonly related to past trauma, so effectively treating anxiety and depression usually involves resolving the underlying trauma and making some fundamental changes in the way people think about themselves and the world.
Can you tell us more about your work with couples and individual clients navigating relationship concerns?
I believe that how we relate to others is a reflection of our relationship with ourselves. Therefore, if we want to have better relationships with others, we first have to work on how we are relating to ourself. Again, trauma is often a root problem in the way we relate to ourselves (and others), so resolving trauma issues is often part of that process in healing our ability to relate in more meaningful ways to ourselves and others.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Helping clients find ways of doing life that work better for them and provide more meaning and fulfillment.
Therapy sessions with Devon
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
The first session typically consists of providing you with an opportunity to talk about what is going on for you and working with you to create a treatment plan. The treatment plan will consist of one or more measurable goals and specific things that will be done as part of the therapeutic process to help you achieve those goals.
Ongoing sessions will primarily be utilized to present the tools, practices, and information outlined in the treatment plan to help you move toward your goals. Ongoing sessions will also be used to assess the effectiveness of what is being done and to make any necessary changes to the treatment plan to make therapy more effective for you.
How long do clients typically see you for?
There are many variables that come into play in determining how long clients are in therapy. My goal as a therapist is to help you learn tools and practices fairly quickly so that you can effectively address your own issues—including new issues that may arise. A typical course of treatment is often from 5-25 sessions.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
- Feeling Good by David Burns
- Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
I frequently assign "homework" between sessions. Many times the homework will be for you to try what was discussed during the session and identify the specific tools or practices that you feel will be most effective for you personally. For example, if, in the session, grounding techniques are discussed, you would likely be given the homework of trying out some of the techniques that were discussed and determining which ones were most effective. You would also be encouraged to regularly practice those techniques that you found to be most effective.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
Good therapy always involves some type of assessment to ensure that progress is being made. If it is appropriate, I may use formal assessment tools to measure things like anxiety or depression each time we meet. At the very least, I will ask you to rate your issue (depression, anxiety, addiction, OCD, etc.) on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most severe. If those numbers are not going down over time, that would indicate a need for changing the way in which the the issue is being addressed.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
It's time to start seeking therapy if you are having issues that you are unable to effectively resolve or manage on your own. This is never an easy thing to do, but I know from personal experience that it is often something that has the potential to change your life for the better.
How can I prepare for our first session?
I would ask that you come prepared to talk about what you are seeking help with, preferably being able to say what needs to be said in 10-20 minutes so that much of the session can be spent creating a treatment plan and discussing what kinds of things may be effective in helping you achieve the goal(s) that you identify.
I also invite you to have a notebook or journal available to you so that you can write down any thoughts that come to you or any ideas that are discussed that you feel may be helpful to you.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
The easy answer is that you will know it is time to end therapy when you have achieved your treatment plan goals. Almost always, I agree with the client's assessment of the situation, so if you feel that it's time to reduce session frequency or end your time in therapy with me, I will likely agree with you. The bottom line is, you will always have the right to make your own choices about therapy and what you do or don't do in therapy.
Visit Devon’s profile to watch his introductory video, read more about him, and contact him for an initial consultation!