MEET OUR COUNSELORS

Our commitment at Hill City Counseling and Consulting is to honor God and show compassionate and professional care to every client. All counselors are active in their local faith communities and are gifted in serving those who are struggling with personal, relational, or spiritual issues. All HCCC Residents and Graduate Interns provide counseling services under the on-site clinical supervision of Drs. David or Suzanne Mikkelson or Dr. Steve Johnson.

David P. Mikkelson, Ph.D., M.Div.
David P. Mikkelson, Ph.D., M.Div.Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Director of Supervision
Fees: Cash rate $115/session, Insurance Accepted

Dr. David P. Mikkelson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AAMFT Approved Supervisor who brings many years of leadership experience to HCCC. He grew up in a military family and served as a Marine Corps artillery officer for 11 years and then as an Army chaplain for 18 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2013. David has been counseling for over 25 years, first as a pastor and later as a trained clinician. He enjoys living and working at the intersection of faith and science, helping people achieve their counseling goals through sound clinical methods that also respect and incorporate a client’s faith commitments. As a military chaplain, he actively protected every person’s right to choose and practice his or her religion, and he is dedicated to respecting the faith commitments of each person. Over the years, David has gained expertise in helping with marriage and family issues, healing from adultery, parenting, communication, spiritual issues, and clinical supervision. He also has many years of experience helping military couples address the unique pressures and challenges of military life.

David holds a B.A. in Economics from Duke University (1984), a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary (1995), an M.S. in Counseling Psychology in 2002, and has been a licensed clinician since 2008. He also earned a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University in 2015. He has trained and supervised more than 50 pastors, residents, and interns, and has been training AAMFT supervisors since 2010. He has been a clinical trainer and conference presenter across the U.S. and in Europe on various topics, and has authored several articles and a book chapter. He and his wife Suzanne have been married for 36 years and have three married sons and four grandsons. David enjoys reading history, hiking, kayaking, and traveling the world.

Suzanne E. Mikkelson, Ph.D.
Suzanne E. Mikkelson, Ph.D.Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Clinical Director
Fees: Cash rate $115/session, Insurance Accepted

Dr. Suzanne E. Mikkelson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. She has over 25 years of counseling and supervisory experience in both agency settings and private practice. She has extensive experience with military service members and their families. She has a deep admiration for the perseverance and commitment clients bring to the counseling process. Suzanne is highly collaborative in her approach with clients and respects clients’ wisdom in the counseling journey and their right to choose how to move forward in their lives. She has clinical expertise in such areas as trauma recovery, adultery recovery, military and veteran issues, parenting, couple and family issues, spiritual issues, and clinical supervision.

Suzanne holds a B.A. in Psychology from Duke University (1984), an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Reformed Theological Seminary (1995), and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University (2015). Suzanne is an EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Trainer in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) trauma therapy. She provides training and certification in EMDR to clinicians locally and around the U.S. who wish to improve their expertise in EMDR. Suzanne speaks nationally and internationally on PTSD, military issues, and ethics, and she has published articles on these topics. She has served on university faculty teaching graduate courses in marriage and family therapy theories and interventions, ethics, professional orientation, and clinical internship.  She also served as the director for the master’s program in marriage and family counseling for Liberty University.  Suzanne has completed many clinical trainings including Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Level 2), Parenting with Love and Logic, SYMBIS, Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Attachment-Based Family Therapy, Collaborative Problem Solving, Couple Communication, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Prepare/Enrich, and EMDR (Approved Consultant and Trainer).

Suzanne has been married to her husband, David, a retired U.S. Army chaplain, since 1984 and is a native of North Carolina. They are blessed to have three adult sons who are all married, and four wonderful grandchildren. In addition to spending unhurried time with the Lord, Suzanne enjoys connecting with family and friends, hiking in the mountains, and international travel.

Steve Johnson, Ph.D., Th.M.
Steve Johnson, Ph.D., Th.M.Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor
Fees: Cash rate $115/session
Insurance Accepted

Dr. Steve Johnson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/Licensed Professional Counselor and Approved Clinical Supervisor. He has over 25 years of counseling experience. He grew up as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) and likewise served as a pastor for 11 years. Following completion of his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Counseling, he served as Director of Counseling Services at Dallas Theological Seminary for 5 years. He then specialized in training physicians in their behavioral science curriculum and providing medical family therapy to patients in a medical setting for 17 years. In 2013 he moved to Lynchburg, VA taking on a full-time position at Liberty University. Over these years, Steve has maintained a private practice where he has counted it a privilege to come alongside couples and families as they addressed parenting, communication, and spiritual issues.

Steve holds a B.A. in history from Bryan College (1977), a Master’s of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (1981), and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Counseling from Texas Women’s University (1994). He has been licensed since 1993. He is currently the Director of Clinical Training for the Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies at Liberty University as well as the Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Liberty University. Steve has completed clinical training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Level 2), Parenting with Love and Logic, Prepare/Enrich, EMDR, and The Grief Recovery Method.

Steve has been married to his wife, Diane, since 1981. She has had her own design business and is currently employed at a local furniture store where she loves assisting clients in their decorating decisions. They have two adult daughters, who are both married to very caring and loving husbands. Steve enjoys playing Pickleball, taking walks in the neighborhood, and traveling to new destinations; preferably on a cruise with Diane!

Kelly Carapezza, M.A., LPC
Kelly Carapezza, M.A., LPCLicensed Professional Counselor
Fees: $115/session
Insurance Accepted

Kelly is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Virginia. Her counseling experience includes therapeutic services in various outpatient settings, eating disorder treatment in a partial hospitalization program, crisis stabilization, and day treatment counseling for at-risk youth at a local agency. Kelly strives to provide practical and research-based care for those who are interested in partnering with her in the therapeutic process.

Kelly is a certified facilitator in Prepare-Enrich, a marital counseling program, designed to improve marriage and relationship skills. Kelly is also certified in the Love & Logic parenting program. Kelly is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and offers this evidence-based intervention to her clients. Kelly is available to provide counseling for clients ages 4 and up. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys figure skating, oil painting, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Kelly is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision at Capella University. She has presented professionally to a variety of groups including the Virginia Counselors Association, Virginia Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, and American Association of Christian Counselors. Kelly greatly enjoys writing and has contributed various academic publications to the Virginia Counselors Association. Kelly has also served on the Virginia Association of Counselor Education and Supervision board as a graduate student representative.

Olivia Acree, M.A.
Olivia Acree, M.A. Licensed Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Olivia began her counseling experience in 2015 when she volunteered with an equine-assisted learning program that aided team-building and healthy trauma processing. Her love for the profession grew in 2016 as she worked under a team of psychologists and Licensed Professional Counselors who mentored and encouraged her as a clinician. She has experience with in-home services and outpatient counseling through her work in a local church counseling center where she saw individuals, couples, and families. Her counseling with these groups of clients included rebuilding broken relationships, processing trauma, and creating family unity using teamwork and appropriate boundaries.

Olivia holds a B.A in Psychology and Religion from Ashland University (2016) and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University (2020). She is Gottman Level 1 and Prepare/Enrich certified, adding further competence to counseling couples. Her personal and educational experiences have cultivated her love for relationships of all kinds, including one’s relationship with the Lord. She considers counseling her ministry, so regardless of her client’s background, she aims to provide genuine dedication and care.

When not in session, Olivia enjoys journaling, music, hiking with her husband, and spending time with both of their large families. Most recently, she and her husband enjoy training their new additions to the family. Their puppies, Kettles and Murphy, are named after two Medal of Honor Winners in hopes that they would be as loyal to them as those men were to their country.

Rachel Birkeland, M.A.
Rachel Birkeland, M.A. Licensed Resident in Counseling Licensed Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Rachel has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University. She is currently a Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Resident in Counseling, pursuing dual licensure as an LPC and LMFT. She is also currently working towards her Neurorelational Child-Centered Play Therapy Certificate to better help children.

Rachel was born and raised in Macau, China. Her passion for helping others was sparked at a young age through being a missionary kid, with cross-cultural parents who provided lay counseling. She has a heart to help repair families and transform lives by serving children and their families in relational, practical, and creative ways. Rachel respects others in their religion and belief system while personally holding a Biblical worldview. She is fluent in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. She has experience with working with children in the US and abroad in settings such as schools, orphanages, group homes, clinics, and community agencies.

Rachel has completed clinical training in SYMBIS premarital counseling, Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Level 1), Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) for children from hard places, ASIST suicide prevention, and CBASP intervention for chronic depression. In addition to working with children and teens, Rachel has served clients with other clinical issues such as infidelity repair, children of divorce, caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, grief and loss, spiritual issues, depression, anxiety, relational transitions, as well as family of origin issues.

On the weekends, Rachel enjoys serving with Climbers for Christ and assisting in outdoor rock-climbing trips. She also enjoys doing crafts and spending time with friends and family. For relaxation, Rachel enjoys sipping loose-leaf Chinese tea with a journal in hand and classical music in the background.

Matthew Hammond, M.A.
Matthew Hammond, M.A.Licensed Resident in Counseling
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Matthew graduated from Liberty University with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Matthew is committed to providing a safe, constructive environment where individuals can work toward healing and restoration. Matthew incorporates spiritual principles in conjunction with evidence-based treatment, respecting each person’s worldview. His approach to counseling involves understanding the root and core issues of one’s struggles, then working toward a place of healing and growth.

Matthew’s professional experience includes providing inpatient mental health services at Virginia Baptist Hospital as an associate mental health professional since 2017, and outpatient counseling experience at a local Christian practice. He has worked with a variety of client concerns such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance use, personality disorders, and trauma, both in group and individual counseling settings. Matthew views counseling as a collaborative, intentional process that allows people to overcome and grow through the challenges of life.

In his spare time, Matthew enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, exercising, and playing guitar.

Sadie Herts, M.A.
Sadie Herts, M.A.Licensed Resident in Counseling
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Sadie holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University and is a Licensed Resident in Counseling. She is passionate about helping each client build a life worth living. Those that struggle in their relationships with others and with themselves are those Sadie desires to help. She takes special care to help those with self-harming behaviors, identity concerns, chronic anxiety and depression, and relationship problems. Her goal is to help each person build skills to overcome life’s most difficult problems, have satisfying relationships, and discover a sense of purpose.

Sadie has experience working with teens, adults, and couples. She has had opportunities to work with a variety of mental health concerns including anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, suicidal thinking and self-harm, and emotion dysregulation problems. Sadie blends biblical truth with evidence-based practices to help strengthen the mind and soul. She utilizes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to establish coping skills to manage emotional suffering. Sadie is also trained in The Gottman Method Level 1 and certified in PREPARE/ENRICH, both methods for strengthening pre-marital and married couples.

In her spare time, Sadie enjoys painting, eating a good meal with friends and family, and being outside as much as possible.

Khalil Karl, M.A.
Khalil Karl, M.A. Licensed Resident in Counseling
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Khalil graduated from Liberty University in December 2019 with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is now a Resident in Counseling and working toward earning his license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). As a Christian, Khalil is committed to incorporating evidence-based counseling methods that uphold each client’s faith and promote important biblical truths such as unconditional love, grace, and understanding. Khalil believes in an approach to counseling that is unique to each person, and he works alongside individuals and couples collaboratively to help them reach their goals.

Khalil has three years of counseling experience including therapeutic services for children, youth, and families. He values a structural family approach to counseling that provides individuals, couples, and families with a supportive environment where they can effectively achieve individual and relational healing. He has had many opportunities to work with family conflict and an array of diagnoses including ADHD, depression, anxiety, oppositional defiance, disruptive mood dysregulation, and bipolar. Khalil sees counseling as a proactive, restorative, and/or preventative process, and hopes anyone considering seeking help for life’s challenges will feel accepted to do so.

In his spare time, Khalil enjoys creative arts as well as challenging himself through activities such as ultrarunning and backpacking.

Ellie Karle, M.A.
Ellie Karle, M.A.Licensed Resident in Counseling
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Ellie Karle graduated with her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University in August 2019. She is a Resident in Counseling in Virginia, working towards licensure as a professional counselor. Her clinical experience includes counseling a variety of populations, including adolescents, college-aged individuals, and elders, as well as couples. She has experiences working with issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma, as well as family of origin issues and relationship transitions such as divorce and new relationships. Ellie is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, an evidence-based protocol for treating traumatic stress. She enjoys working with clients from various cultural backgrounds, and she places a high value on understanding how clients’ experiences affect their needs and comfort in the counseling relationship. She views it as a sacred honor to walk with clients through their emotional pain, hear their stories, and partner with them to overcome challenges.

During her studies, Ellie discovered a passion for the science and beauty of helping relationships. She believes that God designed humans to connect with one another and that healthy relationships are the most powerful mechanism for healing and growth. She sees faith and science as mutually complementary and believes such integration enables her to be a more effective counselor. Ellie is passionate about helping clients resolve personal and relationship struggles, building more authentic and meaningful connections. She desires to empower clients to overcome obstacles in their lives, and to courageously value who they are while also growing into who they want to be.

In her spare time, Ellie loves hiking and exploring the outdoors, as well as reading, experimenting with creative recipes, and volunteering with the kids at her church.

Stephanie Messerly, M.A.
Stephanie Messerly, M.A. Licensed Resident in Counseling Licensed Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Stephanie Messerly graduated from Liberty University in 2019 with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. She is currently a Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Resident in Counseling, pursuing dual licensure as an LPC and LMFT. Stephanie has been very active in serving our community in many ways: in-home services with autistic children, internships with women and children at a domestic violence shelter, a community food pantry, and a suicide prevention screening program for middle and high school youth. Early in her undergraduate studies, Stephanie recognized a desire to provide care to people who are hurting. This desire brought opportunities to serve children, adolescents, and their families through group and family counseling at Virginia Baptist Hospital’s psychiatric unit, and experience with adults and geriatric patients on the inpatient psychiatric units. In addition to the hospital, Stephanie has had the privilege of counseling individuals, couples, and families through two local outpatient counseling centers, including here at Hill City Counseling.

Stephanie is passionate about walking alongside clients through the process of counseling to help restore marriages, families, and other interpersonal relationships. She desires to be a therapist who connects with clients by leaning into their hurts, fears, and uncertainties, while also celebrating their victories, strengths, and passions. Stephanie has experience working with clients struggling with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, traumatic events, marital strain, and family stressors. She is a certified facilitator in SYMBIS, Prepare/Enrich, and Gottman Level I, which are effective programs to prepare and improve relationship skills.  Stephanie is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

When she is not sitting in the counselor seat, Stephanie enjoys hiking, taking pictures, reading, and time with friends and family. Through her local church, she enjoys leading a young adult life group where she helps cultivate community, intimacy, and spiritual growth.

Joseph Strasshofer, M.A.
Joseph Strasshofer, M.A.Licensed Resident in Counseling
Fees: $40/session
Insurance Accepted: Anthem Healthkeepers (not Medicaid/Medicare), Cigna

Joseph graduated from Liberty University in August of 2019 with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is currently a Resident in Counseling in Virginia working toward becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. Joseph is committed to educating others and assisting them in living healthier lives. Joseph’s compassionate, person-centered approach to counseling provides individuals with a safe and supportive environment where they can work toward healing. As a Christian, he is passionate about incorporating biblical truths with therapeutic interventions to help individuals as they encounter life’s challenges. Joseph values the opportunity to be present with others and provide them with support, encouragement, and direction as they experience unbelief, fear, relationship issues, grief, and career decisions.

Joseph has three years of clinical experience working at community-based agencies in the city of Lynchburg. He has provided services for adults with mood disorders and has worked with children and adolescents that have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, conduct disorders, depression, and anxiety. His primary clinical expertise is with children and adolescents of various cultures that have experienced crisis or trauma. He has assisted in the development of a crisis program for at-risk youth with a local agency and has begun providing crisis intervention and outpatient counseling services in Lynchburg City and Campbell County schools. He is available to provide counseling for individuals ages 4 and up.

In his free time, Joseph enjoys reading, running, hiking, camping, and spending time with family and friends.

Victoria Haller, B.S.
Victoria Haller, B.S. Graduate Intern in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Fees: $20/session

Victoria holds a B.S. in Exercise Science from Indiana Wesleyan University (2018) and is currently pursuing her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University. She plans to pursue licensure as a Professional Counselor once she graduates. Victoria is certified as a SYMBIS assessment facilitator for working with both engaged and married couples. Victoria believes that incorporating biblical truths with evidence-based counseling methods is a powerful way to work toward growth and healing. Victoria acknowledges that coming to counseling takes a lot of courage and therefore desires to provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental and comfortable environment for all clients.

Victoria has a heart for working with young women who feel lost, broken, unloved, and confused with their life circumstances. She believes in providing a space for clients where they feel seen, heard, understood, encouraged and where hope can be instilled. Victoria believes that a collaborative holistic approach to healing provides the most beneficial long-term outcomes. She desires to be a calm and immovable anchor for clients while helping them realize that they are overcomers and fully redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Victoria has experience working with young women in a college setting where she served as a resident assistant. She had the privilege of mentoring these ladies both spiritually and relationally. In this position, Victoria counseled individuals who were dealing with anxious thoughts, depression, adjustment issues, relational conflict and suicidal thoughts. Victoria is also passionate about and has experience serving individuals on medical mission trips where physical, mental, and spiritual needs are met.

In her spare time, Victoria enjoys baking, playing tennis, propagating plants, watching all British shows, and spending time with family and friends.

Maddison Stewart, B.A.
Maddison Stewart, B.A.Graduate Intern in Marriage and Family Counseling
Fees: $20/session

Maddison holds a B.A. in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University (2017) and is currently pursuing her M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University. Maddison plans to pursue licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist once she graduates. Maddison is a certified PREPARE/ENRICH facilitator, and enjoys working with couples to build, renew, or restore their relationship. As a Christian, she values incorporating biblical truths with evidence-based counseling methods in order to work collaboratively with individuals to help them reach their goals. Maddison is passionate about fostering a warm, safe environment where clients feel comfortable processing their life experiences, emotional pain, and struggles.

Maddison has experience supporting individuals with disabilities as an Employment Specialist by helping them find and maintain competitive employment within the community. She has provided services for individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, mood disorders, and behavioral disorders. Maddison has experience teaching life skills and coping mechanisms to these individuals, as well as advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Additionally, Maddison has served as a volunteer youth ministry leader for multiple years, working in a mentorship role with adolescents. Throughout these experiences, Maddison has humbly learned the sacred honor of walking alongside individuals who are trying to navigate the difficulties and traumas of life. She believes in meeting people where they are and allowing God to use her in order to display His absolute love, grace, and understanding.

In her free time, Maddison can be found hiking, camping, reading a good book, watering her plants, baking lemon-flavored desserts, and spending time with her family and friends.