Meet Our Clinicians
Counseling Associates is a well respected and established private practice located in Columbia, MO. Our clinicians are dedicated to serving those in our community to develop positive thinking and coping skills and to assist in treating mental health issues.
Our clinicians are graduates from degree programs with emphases in Counseling Psychology, Psychology, and Social Work. We bring you over 100+ years of experience to help you reach your therapeutic goals.
Melinda Motter LPC / Co-Owner
Melinda is one of the owners of Counseling Associates, LLC and has worked as an individual and family therapist in multiple settings over the last 10+ years. Melinda began her work as a Substance Abuse Counselor and taught Substance Abuse Traffic Offenders Program class while completing her M.Ed. in Counseling. Melinda began working in private practice with Counseling Associates in 2011 providing individual and family therapy, play therapy, marital therapy and group therapy. Melinda’s emphasis has primarily included working with adolescent and teenage children to include issues such as stress, anxiety, depression and behavioral modification strategies. Melinda also works closely with parents on appropriate strategies in dealing with defiant behaviors. Melinda has lengthy experience working with children who are victims of abuse and neglect. Melinda utilizes a number of therapeutic techniques including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Melinda also provides a number of groups addressing teen and social issues. Melinda works with clients of all ages.
Stephanie Parsons LCSW / Co-Owner
Stephanie is one of the owners of Counseling Associates, LLC. Stephanie began her work in child welfare as an Alternative Care Case Manager with the Missouri Department of Social Services/Children’s Division. While working as an alternative care case manager, Stephanie worked with linking abused and neglected children with appropriate services and work towards reunification with their natural parents. Stephanie began her work in private practice with Counseling Associates in 2007, providing individual and family therapy, marital therapy, and group therapy. Her primary focus has included victims of child abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and teen issues. Stephanie has also provided services to parents whose children have been placed in alternative care, providing trauma focused parenting education in order to assist parents in reunifying with their children. In recent years, Stephanie has also focused on working with children who are experiencing difficulty as a result of parental divorce and parental alienation, teens transitioning to college and/or adulthood, as well as adults who are ready to address past traumas. Stephanie works with clients of all ages.
In addition to providing therapeutic services, Stephanie also works with families pursuing a license in foster care, families pursuing the ability to legally adopt children through the foster care system, as well as families pursuing private adoptions. During her work licensing foster families, Stephanie works to simultaneously provide trauma informed parenting education to these families in order to best prepare them for the children they will care for.
Stephanie is working towards her certification in TF-CBT.
Melissa M. Williams LPC / Co-Owner
Melissa is one of the owners of Counseling Associates LLC. Melissa is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a wealth of experience working with children through college age and well into adulthood. Melissa has worked as an individual and family therapist with Counseling Associates since 2012.
Melissa began working for the State of Missouri as a Regional Family Specialist for the Division of Youth Services. Melissa worked with youth that committed crimes and were working to be rehabilitated into the community.
Melissa went on to begin private practice with Counseling Associates in 2012 where she continued to provide individual, family, marital, and group therapy. Melissa primarily works with families, young adults, and couples. Melissa uses several models of therapies to include Multisystemic Family Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for issues such as depression, anxiety, survivors of childhood abuse/sexual abuse, grief/loss, family of origin issues, divorce, parenting, relationship issues, and spiritual issues. Melissa has recently trained to provide Brainspotting with clients working to heal from past trauma.
Melissa also provides group therapy for children with sexually acting out behaviors as well as Divorce - Mediation. Melissa works with clients of all ages.
Lisa Brown LCSW
Lisa has worked as an individual and family therapist in multiple settings over the last twenty-five years. Lisa began her work as a therapist working with clients in an inpatient treatment center at Charter Hospital in Columbia, MO. As a member of an interdisciplinary team, Lisa completed psychosocial histories and developed treatment plans. Lisa began work in private practice in 1994 and has continued in this practice providing individual and family therapy, play therapy, marital therapy, and group therapy. Lisa’s emphasis has primarily included victims of child abuse and neglect and sexual abuse. Lisa also has lengthy experience working with children who are experiencing difficulties as a result of parental divorce and parental alienation as well as working with mothers with identified needs through Lutheran Children and Family Services.
Lisa is working towards her certification in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Lucinda Levings, LPC
Lucinda comes to us with over twenty years of experience in the field of Mental Health. Lucinda earned her Masters of Education Guidance and Counseling with an agency component from Lincoln University. She received her License in Professional Counseling in 2005.
Lucinda started her career working as a Youth Specialist for the Division of Youth Services. In Waverly, MO where she worked for two and a half years. She went on to work as a Community Support Worker for adults with substance abuse and addiction at Mexico Area Recovery Center (now Turning Point) for two and a half years. Lucinda later worked for The Salvation Army Harbor House as the Director for five and a half years where she worked with Veterans, adults, and families, as well as domestic violence survivors; assisting them in obtaining housing and employment. She also worked with her clients on the issues that lead to their homelessness. During Lucinda’s time at the Harbor House, she also developed programming curriculum and supervised college interns.
Lucinda has extensive knowledge working as a counselor with those with drug and alcohol abuse including her work at DRD (Methadone) Medical Clinic in Columbia, MO as well as Phoenix Programs Inc. While at Phoenix Programs Inc, she worked with adults with substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and trauma. She also worked with clients who were in need of couples counseling and group counseling. During her time there, she was the SATOP Administrator and facilitated SATOP groups and completed assessments. She was active in this role for three years.
Most recently, Lucinda worked for Compass Health for over ten years as a family and individual therapist working with adolescents and families addressing substance use, co-occurring disorders, behavioral issues, trauma, and other mental health issues. During her time there, she developed curriculum from evidence based material for groups, supervised 4th year psychology residents from MU on their internship rotation, and provided supervision for PLPC's.
Lucinda ventured into private practice as it allowed her to work with a more diverse clientele where she can be more creative with proven researched techniques. Lucinda uses CBT, mindfulness, family systems theory, person centered, as well as strengths based therapy. Lucinda works with clients of all ages.
Kym Armontrout, M.Ed., LPC
Kym Armontrout comes to Counseling Associates with a plethora of knowledge and experience. Kym earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in History and is certified in Middle School Social Studies as well as certified in Special Education for grades K-12. In 2015, Kym earned her Masters in Education in Counseling as well as a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. Kym is also certified in School Counseling.
Kym previously practiced with Family Circle Therapeutic Services before joining our team in 2018. Kym has also worked as a learning specialist and a general educator in the educational system for nearly twenty years. Her work with teenagers with learning disabilities and behavioral issues in the school setting has paved the way for Kym to bring a great deal of skill and knowledge to her clients at Counseling Associates. Kym’s primary focus has been working with teens and adolescents addressing issues revolving around self esteem issues, eating disorders, and social anxiety. In addition, Kym has focused her practice on victims of child abuse, assisting in adjusting to the struggles that often occur during the transition for blended families, as well as marital and couples counseling.
Kym practices from an eclectic model and tends to draw from Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Choice Theory, and Family Systems Theory. Kym will also be providing group therapy to some of our younger female clients. Kym works with clients of all ages.
Jessica Peterson, LCSW
Jessica (she/her) received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May 2007. She has spent the past 15 years working in medical social work with the majority of her career devoted to pediatric and adolescent patients. Jessica provided support and crisis intervention to families experiencing a number of challenges including unexpected hospitalization, new diagnoses, trauma and death. She gained significant experience supporting children and families experiencing child abuse and neglect as well as working with Children’s Division and Juvenile Officers during investigations. Jessica spent the most recent four years working at a local pediatric and adolescent specialty clinic where she supported a variety of populations. While working in the clinic, she screened individuals for anxiety, depression and suicidality as well as provided crisis care and linked families to resources including mental health programs.
Jessica’s background in medical social work gives her a unique perspective and knowledge of chronic illness and overall physical and mental well-being. She is comfortable working with an inter-professional team when appropriate. Jessica is educated in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI). Jessica’s clients can expect honesty, empathy, compassion and acceptance.
Jessica’s areas of interest include working with those who are experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma and eating disorders. She is pursuing additional training and education in different therapeutic approaches including those specific to eating disorders and trauma. Jessica works with clients of all ages with specific interest in children, adolescents and young adults.
Sierra Craig, LCSW
Sierra (she/her) received her Bachelor's in Social Work from the University of Central Missouri in 2018. She went on to earn her Master of Social Work from the University of Missouri – Columbia (2020).
Sierra began her Social Work career working with youth and families involved with the Children’s Division in Pettis and Cooper Counties. Sierra has experience working with both child abuse and neglect investigations as well as working with children in foster care through alternative care case management. After moving to Columbia in order to complete her master’s degree, Sierra began working with youth who were placed at the Robert L. Perry Juvenile Justice Center. These youth were charged with various crimes and lacked the accessibility to mental health resources. While Sierra enjoyed the work she did with the youth at JJC, she saw an even greater opportunity with the youth placed at Great Circle and accepted a position as Cottage Therapist. As a cottage therapist, Sierra worked with the younger youth who were displaying various behaviors (aggression, self-harm, suicidal ideations, homicidal ideations, etc.) typically as a result of trauma they have experienced and witnessed. After leaving Great Circle and coming to Counseling Associates full-time, Sierra decided to pursue Emergency Room Social Work at a local hospital to help other's in need with her skills she has gained and learned in her time as a social worker. Sierra remains full-time at Counseling Associates while working part-time at a local Emergency Room.
Sierra has experience working with individuals from four to twenty-two years old as well as families and in a team setting. Sierra's knowledge base includes individuals and families who have experienced various traumas, survivors of sexual assault, youth who have/are sexually acting out, those who have or are actively self-harming, those who have or who are actively having suicidal ideations, those who have been victim of childhood abuse and neglect, persons struggling with anxiety or depressive symptoms, as well as those who have been exposed to drug usage. In addition, she has knowledge of and incorporates aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), Crisis Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in her therapy approach. In the future, Sierra hopes to become certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy and DBT. Sierra works with clients of all ages, and primarily sees youth through the age of 25.
Joshua Cook, LCSW
Joshua received his Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2017 and continued to complete a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2020.
Most of his career has been spent in the mental health field, specifically in community mental health where he worked as a Community Support Specialist at New Horizons Community Support Services and as an Outpatient Clinician at Burrell Behavioral Health. Joshua has also worked as a Foster Care Case Manager and as a Direct Support Specialist, working with individuals with varying intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Joshua has clinical experience working with adolescents to older adults, and has experience addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), grief, substance use, and adjusting to life’s changes. He has experience using therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. Joshua is also trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), an evidence based practice for treating PTSD.
Cayla Page, LMSW
Cayla is a two-time graduate of the University of Missouri School of Social Work, earning both her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees.
Cayla started her social work career as a Specialized Alternative Care Case Manager where she gained experience working with children and adolescents who had experienced significant abuse and neglect. While completing her master’s degree, Cayla organized and co-facilitated groups focused on helping girls in grades K-12 to develop coping skills and to manage stressors. Though her emphasis is in work with children, adolescents, and young adults, while completing her MSW, Cayla served as an intern with Counseling Associates providing individual and family therapies to clients of all ages.
Cayla is passionate about guiding her clients toward holistic well-being and brings an authentic approach to each therapeutic relationship. Her approach is strengths-based and person-centered. She has experience working with clients who present with anxiety, depression, acting out behaviors, adjustment issues, family struggles, and trauma. She has knowledge of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, and Motivational Interviewing. Cayla looks forward to continuing to expand her knowledge on trauma therapies.
Kyla Jansen, PLPC
It is the interpersonal dynamics that drew Kyla to the therapeutic art of counseling. Kyla completed her Masters of Education in Counseling in 2019 from Stephen’s College. During pursuit of her Master’s Degree, Kyla served as an intern with Counseling Associates. Kyla has extensive experience working in the social services field including working for the Boone County Children’s Division in the Family Preservation/Family Centered Services (FCS) Division where she worked to maintain intact families. Kyla has been in her position as a Case Manager / Therapist with Behavioral Health Group since June of 2022. She is returning to Counseling Associates to continue to pursue her passion of working with adolescents and families. Kyla has experience working with clients of all ages, however; her passion is working with children, adolescents, and families. She has experience working with clients diagnosed with personality, mood or conduct disorders, autism, intellectual delays and trauma specifically from CA/N (Child Abuse and/or Neglect). She has also provided services in family court due to parental alienation and custody modifications.
Michaelah Knarr, LMSW
Michaelah completed her Master of Social with a clinical compensation from the University of Washington in 2021. While pursuing her education, Michaelah worked largely with the aging population and their loved ones during the end of life stages as well as those impacted by a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Since graduation, Michaelah has worked primarily with homeless and at-risk youth and youth involved in the foster care system.
Michaelah believes in the healing power of storytelling and connection. Her goals as a therapist are to allow her clients to recognize her as a trustworthy and safe person and to provide an environment where her clients are able to process and work through their issues in a healthy and productive manner. Michaelah strives to empower her clients to recognize the strengths they possess and to learn how to utilize those strengths to meet their goals. She has specific experience with those working through grief, loss, or trauma. Michaelah works with people of all ages.
Kristal Allen, PLPC
Kristal earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of MO - Columbia in 2002. She then earned her Master’s of Education in Counseling Psychology from Stephen’s College in 2011.
Kristal has a variety of professional experience that she brings with her to Counseling Associates including working as a peer counselor at Open Arms Crisis Pregnancy
Center during college as well as working as the intake coordinator for Faith Maternity Care in Fulton, MO.as well as working at University Behavioral Health as a Community Support Specialist, where she worked with with adolescents and their families. Additionally while at University Behavioral Health she served as the liaison to the Community Interagency Committee, working inthe public schools to bring resources and services to underserved children., and began working with adults as a Community Support Specialist with East Central Missouri Behavioral Health.
Kristal has completed her certification as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist with the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, and the facilitator certification with the American Lung Association Freedom From Smoking Program. Kristal has experience leeding weekly nicotine dependence groups and smoking cessation education.
Kristal’s experience includes working with children and adults of all ages. She employs a myriad of theories and techniques, including Cognitive Behavior Theory and BioPsychoSocial ideology. Kristal is beginning her certification in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Roxann Durham PhD