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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Marquita Heyward, M.A., LPC

Lead Clinician
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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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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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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Brad Martin, LISW-CP

Licensed Independent Social Worker
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Brad Martin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who relocated to South Carolina in 2016 after graduating from the University of Georgia with a Master’s degree in Social Work. Prior to receiving his Master’s degree, Brad attended the University of Georgia where he played the snare drum for the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band and received an undergraduate degree in psychology. Brad has spent the last five years providing individual and group psychotherapies in community settings as well as providing telehealth therapies to ensure access to services was not a barrier to care for those in need. Brad specializes in treating individuals who find themselves struggling with chronic symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma. He believes in helping clients build effective coping strategies using an eclectic approach incorporating the concepts of person-centered, acceptance and commitment therapy, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy in his work. When Brad is not in the office, he can be found spending time with his wife and their ever-growing mini-home zoo, watching the Georgia “Dawgs” play football, and enjoying a good game of chess.

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Joy

Joy Brazell, NCC, LPC/A

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor / Associate

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Joy is an LPC-A and a recent graduate of The University of South Carolina, where she gained her ED.S degree in Counselor Education and a certification in Play Therapy. She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and in Dance Studies. Joy is married to her high school sweetheart, Ryan. Together, they have a daughter, Dylan, 2 dogs and 2 cats. In her free time, Joy enjoys going to Edisto Island, spending time with family, crafting, and being outside.

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Haley

Haley Fike, Ed.S, NCC, LPC/A

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor / Associate

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Haley received her Bachelor of Science degree in Experimental Psychology and Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree with a major concentration in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling from the University of South Carolina. She is licensed by the state of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC/A). She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and is certified in play therapy. Haley has experience working with children, adolescents, and families facing a variety of issues including trauma, relational issues, attachment, anxiety, depression, and adoption& foster care. Her therapeutic approach is eclectic, with strong emphasis on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Structural Family Therapy, and Child-Centered Play Therapy based on unique client needs. Haley believes in utilizing the collaborative therapeutic relationship to assist clients in processing life transitions, coping with complex situations and improving their holistic well-being.When Haley is not in office, she enjoys cheering on the Gamecocks, fishing, shopping, playing at the lake, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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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

Cory Koester, MS, LPC

Cory Koester, MS, LPC

Lead Clinician
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, LPC/S, LAC

Executive Adviser
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 a license in North Carolina as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC). Frances is also a trained End-of Life Doula through the University of Vermont’s Professional and Continuing Education training program as well as the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA). Frances is also a Certified Grief Educator. A Certified Grief Educator is committed to providing the highest level of grief support through education, experience, and insights into the often unacknowledged rocky terrain of grief. Certified Grief Educators completed a certificate program designed by world-renowned grief expert, David Kessler. They bring his unique methodology, tools, and decades of experience to help people navigate the challenges of grief. With over 20 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 Lander University and earned her Master of Education in Community Counseling from Clemson University, in South Carolina, in 2001. 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, and enjoying nature.

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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, NCC, LPC

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor
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Janae received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and worked overseas for several years 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. She has received training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and is currently being trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR). She integrates these approaches to help families and individuals strengthen meaningful connections and develop manageable ways to navigate life. Janae enjoys spending time in nature, creating art, and relaxing with friends and family.

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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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Randy

Randy Bryant, M.A., NCC., LPC/A

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor / Associate

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Randy Bryant is a native of Columbia, SC; where she attended Columbia College and earned a B.A. in Behavioral Science and M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lenoir-Rhyne University. Throughout her studies she realized that she was drawn to family dynamics, specifically the invisible load mothers tend to hold. As a mom, Randy understands the stressors and emotions mothers go through. How life can become a never-ending cycle of checklists, work emails, and whatever else life seems to think you can solve.
Randy believes that therapy is a partnership between counselor and client where we work together to find clarity and healing from their problems. She is here to help you see things that are just out of focus and change the story that you have been telling yourself. Randy believes in using strength-based therapy, narrative therapy, and person-centered therapy approaches to help her clients see they have the tools to foster their healing.
In her free time Randy enjoys going to the zoo with her daughter, reading and spending time with family and friends.

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Logan

Logan Leverage, Ed.S., NCC, LPC/A

National Certified Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor / Associate

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Logan received Bachelor’s Degrees (BA) in Criminal Justice and Sociology, an Education Specialist Degree (Ed. S) in Counselor Education, and a Graduate Certification in Play Therapy from the University of South Carolina. She is licensed by the State of South Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC-A) and recognized as a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Coming from a background where she worked with children and teenagers in the foster care system, she approaches therapy with a trauma informed lens and seeks to empower clients with a client-centered approach. Using play therapy techniques, she strives to give children safe and creative outlets to express their voices and build self-esteem and resiliency. She believes in the healing power of the relationship between counselor and client, and tailors her sessions to meet each individual’s needs. When Logan is not in the office, you can often find her catching up on her favorite shows, reading a good book, and spending time with her family.

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Shakeyla

Shakeyla Boulware, MA, NCC, LPC/A

Licensed Professional Counselor
Associate National Certified Counselor

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Shakeyla earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Shakeyla completed a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from South University. Shakeyla is a Licensed professional Counseling associate and also a National Board Certified Counselor. Shakeyla has experience working with adults, youth, and families in a variety of settings, foster care, non-profit organizations, and clinical settings. Shakeyla’s goal is to ride as the copilot, helping you to navigate through the obstacles one may face in life. While no one else can heal or do your inner work for you, this does not mean you can, should, or need to do it alone. Shakeyla’s therapeutic interest includes working with clients with depression, anxiety, grief, anger/stress management, work/life stressors, self-esteem, relationships, boundary setting, behavioral modification, trauma, and sexual trauma. Shakeyla believes everyone holds in them the necessary skills to produce the life they want and therefore, provides a supportive, non-judgmental, and relaxed environment to foster change. Shakeyla primarily uses Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), as well as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR). Shakeyla enjoys fashion, reading, being adventurous, and spending time with her family and friends in her spare time.

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