The Relationship Corner: How Evans is Making Space for Conversations

At first glance, Leontyne Evans admits that her resume looks impressive.

She’s a trained mediator, domestic violence intervention facilitator, drug and alcohol counselor, and personal finance counselor. She was the Greater Omaha Chamber’s first resource navigator and the first survivor engagement specialist for Survivors Rising. She founded the Violence Against Black Women Initiative and has authored two books.

“People think I’m accomplished, but what I was really doing was educating myself on my own trauma,” she said. “Wherever I was lacking, I wanted to fill in the gaps.”

Her desire to understand trauma brought her to therapy, both personally and professionally, and in September 2021 she opened The Relationship Corner (TRC).

TRC, located at 5858 Wenninghoff Rd., is a creative space that originally sought to bring the community together through therapy and events.

Rooted in Personal Experience

Some of the first events TRC hosted included “Cognac and Conversations,” a space for men to gather and talk about their lives, and the “Get Comfortable Getting Uncomfortable Couples Series,” which aimed to help couples learn to communicate through difficult conversations.

Leontyne Evans, founder, The Relationship Corner. (photography by Debra S. Kapla)
Leontyne Evans, founder, The Relationship Corner. (photography by Debra S. Kapla)

As a domestic and sexual abuse survivor, Evans knows how critical having a support system and being able to communicate effectively is.

“My ex was abusive and he was an alcoholic, so I became a drug and alcohol counselor to better understand how that works,” she said.

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“I have been broke and homeless because he was spending and stealing my money. Part of surviving is managing your finances, so I became a personal finance counselor.”

Her training and experiences influence how she approaches clients at TRC, which she said can be hard when she sees clients living through similar situations.

“It all had a purpose, I just didn’t see the puzzle pieces until it came together to form this great picture,” she said. “Now I can show [my clients that] it is possible. You can be loved properly, you can be respected.”

Doing Therapy Differently

Evans provides a simple list of therapy options, such as marital counseling, family therapy, and individual therapy, however, that’s where “simple” stops, and “unconventional” begins. Just take a look at the spaces she’s created.

The smallest room, dubbed The Green Room, has tropical wallpaper, green chairs and pillows, and an enlarged photo of a koi pond for the flooring. The Vibe Room is filled with warm colors and soft floor cushions. The largest room, dubbed The Great Space, incorporates the same love of color with yellow and teal furniture and a black and gold floral accent wall.

“I wanted a place that made you feel good, because [therapy] can’t just be verbally stimulating, it needs to be mentally stimulating, too,” she said. “I do therapy differently. I want you to be engaged.”
That’s why The Great Room also has a collection of weights and a table for art therapy.

The Green Room (photography by Debra S. Kapla)
The Green Room (photography by Debra S. Kapla)

“Sometimes we break things. Sometimes I have them carry around the weights to symbolize the weight they’re carrying around with them. Sometimes we paint and listen to music,” she said.

The original space was so successful that in May 2022 Evans secured the bay next door effectively doubling the space.

Fully Committed

One of the major challenges Evans faced when opening TRC was one that many individuals seeking their Independent Mental Health Practitioner License (LIMHP) face: 3,000 hours of supervised practice, many of which are unpaid.

For Evans, this meant she couldn’t fully commit to TRC and building her practice.

“Then along came Payton,” she said.

The Great Room (photography by Debra S. Kapla)
The Great Room (photography by Debra S. Kapla)

Payton Hogan, a fellow therapist, and owner of Bear Company Counseling, offered to supervise Evans in exchange for office space.

Hogan moved in January 2023, followed by Elisha Suttles from Intentional Healing, forming an unofficial “Mental Health Collaborative.”

Since then Bear Company Counseling has experienced consistent growth, and in July will take over five of the 10 rooms prompting Evans to consider ‘what’s next.’

Originally the discussion surrounded a new location for events only and up until recently that was the plan.
“But I realized that was out of fear,” Evans said. “I wanted to do something bigger, but I was worried it wouldn’t work.”

The Vibe Room (photography by Debra S. Kapla)
The Vibe Room (photography by Debra S. Kapla)

It’s a similar block she faced when making the jump to TRC. Support from family, friends, and her community convinced her to take the leap.

She’s currently working on the second of three facilities that will fall under the TRC umbrella. The goal is to open The Relationship Center first to host weddings and other large events, followed by The Retreat Center.

Evans is currently solidifying space for The Relationship Center and hopes to open it by the end of the year. She is also scheduled to take the test to become a licensed independent mental health practitioner in July.
“If you listen to your gut, it’ll all work out,” she said.