We are a team of highly qualified mental health professionals and we love what we do. All of our staff are trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and to work with a variety of ages and issues. In addition to these core components, each team member brings a unique approach and clinical specialty to practice.

Our Executive Team

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Melissa R Swartz, PhD, LPC/S, CEO

Executive Director Licensed Professional Counselor & Supervisor

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Melissa is the co-founder and Executive Director of Firm Foundations Counseling & Wellness. As executive director, Melissa’s role involves quality assurance for clinical services, staff training and supervision, as well as research and development. Melissa received her Bachelor’s in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Francis Marion, and a Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD) from the University of South Carolina. She is licensed by the State of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Supervisor (LPC/S). She holds national certifications in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Triple P Positive Parenting Program, as well as Trauma Focused CBT. Melissa’s clinical specialty areas include child and adolescent behavioral and emotional disorders, spiritual integration, family issues, as well as trauma. Melissa also has a special interest in working with and practices as an ally to the LGBTQI+ population. Melissa is a published author on the topics of counselor advocacy and parental alliance. When Melissa is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, the Carolina coast, and Gamecock football.

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Johnathan Swartz, BSBA, CBO

Chief Business Officer

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John is the co-owner and Chief Business Officer of Firm Foundations. As CBO, John’s role involves overseeing administrative operations, purchasing and procurement. Prior to joining Firm Foundations full time in 2014, John enjoyed his years managing Dispatch operations for a major cable provider. John earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University. John enjoys watching sports, playing golf, as well as spending time with family and friends.

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Our Administrative Team

April Barnes

April Barnes

Administrative Assistant

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April Barnes, also known as, one half of the dynamic front desk duo “Maypril”, is often the first smile you’ll see walking in the door at Firm Foundations. Originally an Arizona native, April got to plant her southern roots here in South Carolina when she moved to the state in 2018. At that time, she transitioned from her 2012 start in the physical health industry to mental health – Her true calling. Being an administrative assistant, April handles everything from intake forms, scheduling assessments, billing, and even cleanliness and quality control. (Counselors, don’t touch the glass!) Since being at FFCW, April has had the privilege of working with people from all walks of life. She understands the impact of mental health awareness in today’s society and is proud to be part of a team working to end the stigma. April believes{L}ove is love and all obstacles can be overcome with the right support. When not decorating the office, April enjoys listening to podcasts, playing with her pit bull, and strong coffee on Sunday mornings.

Mary Bratos

Mary Bratsos

Administrative Assistant

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Mary received her Bachelor’s degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Since 2013, Mary has worked in managerial and administrative roles. She has been with Firm Foundations since January of 2019. Along with daily administrative tasks, Mary also helps with the referrals, billing, and is a customer service expert. She is truly passionate about her role here and hopes to continue to grow with Firm Foundations. When she is not working, you can find her hanging out with her family. She is an avid Gamecock fan and loves attending football games. You may also know her as “Maypril”.

OUR CLINICAL TEAM

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Tarah R. Davis, MSW, LISW-CP

Lead Clinician
Licensed Independent Social Worker – Clinical Practice

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Tarah is a transplant to South Carolina, having moved to this area from the Northeast in 2013. She has been a Social Worker for more than 20 years and brings a wealth of experience working with children, adults and families in schools, hospitals, correctional environments and community-based settings. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Connecticut College and her Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. Her therapeutic approach is eclectic, with a strong emphasis on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy, incorporating psychoeducation and mindfulness practices into her work helping clients to manage emotional distress. She is also a strong proponent of holistic (mind, body, spirit) care. Her specialties include treating depression and anxiety in adolescents and adults, working with LGBTQ individuals and trauma survivors. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family, working out, baking, going to jazz concerts and reading suspense novels.

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Karissa Rector, EdS., LPC/A

Licensed Professional Counselor Associate

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Karissa received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Furman University and an Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S) from the University of South Carolina. She is licensed by the state of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC/A). She uses Narrative Therapy and Emotion Focused Family Therapy during her sessions. Karissa is currently in a national training program for Certified Eating Disorder Specialists (CEDS). She enjoys working with a variety conditions, including anxiety, depression, family issues, as well as eating disorders. In her free time Karissa enjoys trying new foods, traveling with family and friends, and catching up on her favorite Netflix shows.

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Alexandria Scarpaci, Ed.S., LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Alexandria joined the Firm Foundations Counseling & Wellness team in 2013. Alexandria received her Bachelor’s in Experimental Psychology and a Counselor Education Specialist Degree from the University of South Carolina. She is licensed by the State of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). She holds certifications in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma Focused CBT, and has undergone extensive training in Emotion Focused Couples Therapy. Alexandria’s specialty areas include couples, adolescents, and adults. When Alexandria is not in the office, she enjoys Gamecock football, shopping, and spending time with her family and friends.

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Marquita Heyward, M.A., LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Marquita holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and a Master’s of Art Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She is licensed by the state of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Marquita approaches counseling with a passion for assisting clients to discover ways to make changes in their lives for a brighter and hopeful future. Marquita believes strongly in using a therapeutic partnership approach with children, young adults, adults, and families, to uncover personal resources for change and to sort through their individualized issues. Marquita incorporates principles from Solution-focused, cognitive-behavioral, and experiential modalities. Marquita’s specialty areas include childhood behavioral issues, parenting, mood disorders, self- esteem, women issues, eating disorders and body image concerns.

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Andrea Cox, M.A., LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Andrea is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has over thirteen years experience working with children, adolescents, young adults, and families in residential, group foster care, the juvenile justice system, and the mental health hospital setting. She enjoys walking alongside and equipping individuals with tools for healing and wholeness and she believes counseling to be most effective when approached holistically. Her areas of therapeutic interest are depression, anxiety, trauma, attachment issues, life adjustments, spiritual integration, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. Andrea is trained in specialized trauma therapies, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Along with her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Counseling from Columbia International University, Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology from Clemson University. In her personal time, she enjoys investing in her relationship with the Lord, spending time with friends, working with the youth at her church, and relaxing by the ocean or on the lake.(EMDR), the world’s gold standard for trauma treatment. Along with her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Counseling from Columbia International University, Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology from Clemson University. In her personal time, she enjoys investing in her relationship with the Lord, spending time with friends, working with the youth at her church, and relaxing by the ocean or on the lake.

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Levi Hall, MA, NCC, LPC/A

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor / Associate

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Levi received his Master’s degree in clinical counseling from Columbia International University. He is licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA) and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Levi has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and couples who have faced a range of issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, relationship issues, and ADHD. His approach is largely eclectic, but primarily focuses on using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and principles from Bowen family therapy. He understands that each client that walks into the office is unique, meaning that counseling will look differently for each client. Levi hopes to work with you collaboratively to help you overcome difficulties and achieve a high quality in both life and relationships.
When not in the office, Levi enjoys spending time with his wife and Goldendoodle puppy. He has a variety of interests including (but not limited to) hiking, climbing, kayaking, snowboarding, playing Ultimate Frisbee and Spikeball, cooking/baking, playing music, reading, and traveling.

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Sydney Jennings, MSW, LMSW

Licensed Master Social Worker

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Sydney received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. During her time at USC, she served as an AmeriCorps member with working with children and adolescents through the Communities in Schools program. She then served another AmeriCorps term with United Way Black River’s Growing Great Readers program before going back to USC to receive her Master’s in Social Work. She is licensed by the state of South Carolina as a Licensed Master Social Worker. Sydney has worked with a variety of ages and uses Cognitive Behavioral, family and play therapy approaches in her treatments. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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Sheresa

Sheresa Melvin, LPC, LAC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Addictions Counselor

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Sheresa graduated from Argosy University: Georgia School of Professional Psychology with a Master’s of Art degree. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Addictions Counselor. She has worked in a psychiatric facility, mental health center and in private practice. Her therapeutic approach is eclectic, with an emphasis on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivation Interviewing. She uses different techniques including mindfulness, homework, challenging irrational beliefs, reading, laughter, scripture (when appropriate). Her approach is to help her patients identify goals (where/how they’d like to be) and come alongside them to accomplish it. She is a big promoter of self-care and enjoys helping others learn to set boundaries. She identifies her gift as Service and gets great pleasure out of helping others. In her non-working time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, singing at church, serving her church members and community.

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Columbia South Carolina Location

Our Administrative Team

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Keshia Alexander

Administrative Assistant

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Keshia received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology-Christian Counseling at Liberty University and will soon complete her Master’s in Professional Counseling-Crisis Counseling at Liberty University. She recently ended her three-year term of service on the Board of Directors with the YWCA of Lynchburg, VA. While serving, she led weekly small groups at the local domestic violence prevention shelter as well as volunteered with SARP (Sexual assault rape program). There she gained a better understanding of crisis counseling, the different levels of anxiety and depression, as well as, trauma and grief therapy. Keshia brings passion for others, empathy, professionalism, and charisma to our office. On her spare time she loves to travel, tour museums, read, and spend quality time with her family and friends.

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Erin Davis

Administrative Assistant

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While Erin is not a South Carolina native, she’s been here most of her life. She completed high school locally. She spent 13 years in retail management, then moved into life as an administrative assistant. Working first as a retention agent, followed by 5 years at a local nonprofit, where she served Survivors of the Midlands. Erin is also a state certified Victims Service Provider. Erin is trained in trauma informed care. She is an active advocate for Autism Awareness and Autism Acceptance. In her free time, Erin enjoys time with her 2 boys and Husband, Beaching and Football (Go Gamecocks!)

OUR CLINICAL TEAM

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Trudy Naylor, M.A., NCC, LPC

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor

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Trudy is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Family Ministries with a Pre-Counseling Emphasis from Moody Bible Institute followed by her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She is a Nationally Certified Counselor primarily using a Family Systems and Cognitive Behavioral approach. Trudy works with all ages and specializes in topics of Families/Couples in distress, Loss, Anxiety, Depression, First Responders/Caretakers, as well as Identity/Self-Worth Issues. When not in the counseling office Trudy can be found in the kitchen working her way through cookbooks and trying new meals with her hubby and three kids. She enjoys reading, coffee, and quiet.

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Janae Kachikis, MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Janae is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate with experience working with children and adolescents in foster care and school-based mental health. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Moody Bible Institute and worked overseas in non-profit communications among cross-cultural projects. Her desire to join individuals on their path toward growth and healing propelled her to receive a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from Columbia International University. Her therapeutic interests include working with children, adolescents and adults experiencing anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, grief and loss, as well as identity and acculturation issues. As a firm believer in the power of play, Janae enjoys spending time in nature, creating art, and relaxing with friends and family.

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Alexa A. Williams, M.A., ADC, LPC/A

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor / Associate

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Alexa Williams, MA, CADC, NCC, LPC-A, received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from the University of South Carolina in Experimental Psychology and a Master’s of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lenoir-Rhyne University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, National Certified Counselor, and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Alexa’s desire to help others stems from the belief that everyone can lead a meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling life. Her therapeutic interest include working with families, couples, young adults, and adults experiencing interpersonal relationship issues, depression, anxiety, trauma, identity, self-esteem, and life transition issues. Alexa values autonomy and believes that the therapeutic experience is a collaborative one between the client and therapist. Alexa prides herself on being understanding, unbiased, non-judgmental, and genuine. She believes that therapy is an ongoing journey that is beneficial for a person’s overall well-being. Her therapeutic approach centers around Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on emotional regulation and identifying the patterns in a persons’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. She also utilizes Existential Therapy to explore self-motivation, self-awareness, and meaning. Also, incorporating mindfulness and motivational practices. During her down time Alexa enjoys listening to music, going to festivals and markets, writing/reading poetry, and spending time with family and friends. She also deems herself a true “foodie” and loves trying out new restaurants. Alexa is eager to begin the healing process with you!

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Cynthia Roark, EdS, NCC, LPC

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor

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Cynthia received her Bachelor’s in Experimental Psychology and Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Counselor Education with a focus on Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling from the University of South Carolina. She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and is licensed by the state of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Cynthia is skilled in trauma-informed therapy and personal advocacy which guides her philosophy of empowering clients on their journey to health and healing. In her sessions, Cynthia incorporates cognitive- behavioral, family systems, and narrative therapies. Additional training includes Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) and victim service provider. Cynthia works with all ages and specializes in topics of adoption & foster care, attachment, family distress, trauma, self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Cynthia has specialized training in Trauma Recovery for LGBT+ Adults and works as an ally to the LGBTQI+ population. Outside of work, Cynthia enjoys going to the beach, drinking coffee, and spending time with her friends, family, and pets.

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Cory Koester, MS, LPC

Cory Koester, MS, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Cory received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Bowling Green State University and obtained his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Murray State University. Cory is licensed by the state of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Cory works to explore challenging experiences with his clients and develop an opportunity to redirect the negative impacts these events can have on an individual’s life. Cory has experience in working with military personnel (active and retired) during his time living near Ft. Campbell military base, and also has experience in working with non-military traumatic events. Through a cooperative effort, Cory utilizes Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) alongside other treatment modalities to help client’s meet their treatment goals. Cory’s therapeutic interests are in working with adults experiencing anxiety, Posttraumatic Stress (PTSD), grief/loss, men’s issues, depression, and relationship difficulties. When not in the office, Cory is often found exploring the beach with his friends and family, attending sporting events, and indulging in anything Star Wars.

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Frances Pope Hewitt

Frances Pope Hewitt, MEd, LPC/S, LAC

Licensed Professional Counselor / Supervisor

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Frances Pope Hewitt is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC/S) and a Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC) in the state of South Carolina. In addition, she holds licenses in North Carolina as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) and a Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS). With over 18 years of clinical experience in the behavioral health care field, she has spent her career advocating for those who could not advocate for themselves, ensuring they have access to quality behavioral health care.
Frances is a graduate of Ben Lippen School and Lander University. She earned her Master of Education in Community Counseling from Clemson University in 2001. She holds national certifications as a Master’s Level Addictions Counselor (MAC) and in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). In her work with clients from all walks of life, from those struggling with depressive and anxiety disorders to those with chronic and severe mental health conditions, she counts it a privilege to walk with each client as she or he works to become an authentic self. From geriatric clients dealing with end of life phases, to young adults and those in between, Frances incorporates an integrative therapeutic foundation to meet her clients where they are. Frances also has a special interest in working with and practices as an ally to the LGBTQI+ population. When Frances is not working, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, reading, running and enjoying nature.

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Jennifer Mobley, ATR-BC, LPC, NCC

Nationally Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor
Board Certified-Registered Art Therapist

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Jennifer Mobley, ATR-BC, LPC, NCC, is a board-certified registered art therapist, licensed professional counselor in the states of South Carolina and Arizona, and national certified counselor. She has over 12 years experience working as a clinical therapist in the mental health field. She has developed art therapy programs for child, family, and adult serving agencies in Phoenix. She has extensive experience working with youth from ages birth to 17 and their families. Her passion is facilitating counseling sessions in which clients can experience healing, growth, and somatic integration using their inherent creative processes. She utilizes a trauma-informed lens to guide her practice, using visual art making and the expressive arts to help clients foster insight, shift perceptions, and explore possibilities. Using an eclectic approach that embodies a person-centered, existential, and strategic approach to the healing arts, Jennifer believes first and foremost in the human potential for change, and the resilience of the human spirit. Each session and group experience is tailored to the needs of the client. Clinical work is built on the value of the authentic, empathic, and therapeutic relationship.
Jennifer has also had the honor of creating and facilitating numerous trainings and workshops over her career in the mental health field, specifically on art therapy as a profession and practice for a variety of populations. She is fully trained in the S.A.F.E. (Somatic and Attachment Focused EMDR) approach for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy for treating trauma and other life challenges. She has had considerable training from the Milton H. Erickson Foundation, in strategic and Ericksonian methods for counseling, and in the use of clinical hypnosis in therapy. She enjoys working with those identified on the Autism Spectrum. She has background and experience treating addictions, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, She is an ally to LGBTIA community members. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State University (Moorhead) in 1999 in Studio Art and Art Education (Summa Cum Laude), and her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapy from Prescott College in 2011. She lives in Columbia where she enjoys painting in her home studio, running local trails, practicing yoga, exploring spiritual growth, and living a health-seeking lifestyle.