A New Era for Northshore Counseling and Wellness


Vivek Kannan, PLPC, Emily Holland, LPC, Elizabeth Kennedy, Student Intern, Erin Shriver, PLPC, Heather Eby, LPC, Luis Socarras, LPC, Blythe McCance, LPC, Linsay Cefalu, PLPC, Brandie Hicks, LPC, Dr. Dawn Sharpless, PhD, Dr. Micah Hatchett, LPC-S, PhD, Leah Steele, LCSW, Samantha Guillory, Emily Baker, Ne’Kia Carter


Dr. James Underhill, PsyD, MP, Dr. Andre Judice, PhD, LPC, LMFT, DCEP, Dr. Christine Powanda, Craig Pierce, Jr., LCSW, Dr. Mike Saussaye, PhD, LPC-S, Brett Busby, PLPC, Kayla Scott, LPC

​By: Sammy Cusimano

In honor of May being the official month of mental health awareness nationwide, the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new office of Northshore Counseling and Wellness on May 21, 2019, is a befitting event to usher in a new era for “building a better you” in the St. Tammany Parish community. Conveniently located off of LA Highway 21 in Covington, Northshore Counseling and Wellness is a hidden gem strategically set up in a private section on the back side of Children’s Hospital Northshore Center. This peaceful new home offers clients a serene and welcoming ambience, as they begin their journey of therapeutic healing with the warm, friendly staff of Northshore Counseling and Wellness.
​What sets Northshore Counseling and Wellness apart is a combination of factors which help make the entire experience at the center very positive for all who are involved. As the largest mental health practice in the Northshore area, the male and female staff range from PhD professionals to student interns. The diversity of staff and their wide range of collective experience adds to the growth-oriented atmosphere on all levels. The staff is team-oriented with a sense of family amongst each other, as well as with the clientele. Practicing what they preach as a cohesive team is an essential component of creating the right spirit of warmth for clients of all ages to feel comfortable, from the first moment they initially walk into the office of Northshore Counseling and Wellness. Balancing work with daily life is essential to the essence of the family-like connection that keeps the staff so positive and productive.

​The availability of the staff on a daily basis is second-to-none at Northshore Counseling and Wellness. With so many staff members regularly accessible to the clientele, there is virtually no wait time for appointments. There are always clinicians in the office and several work up to five days per week. Appointments are usually offered, depending on the clinician, between the hours of 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. These extended hours are extremely helpful for working adults who may need a wider range of flexible appointment times to accommodate their busy schedules.

​Helping individuals who are in need is the primary goal of the entire staff of Northshore Counseling and Wellness. Each member of the team is dedicated to serving clients across a broad spectrum of financial backgrounds. Northshore Counseling and Wellness accepts most major commercial insurances. The staff is also able to assist clients based on a “sliding scale” in order to make treatment options a possibility for all demographics of the community.

Along with the diversity and accessibility of team members at Northshore Counseling and Wellness, the specialties of available services help to meet a vast range of clients’ needs. In addition to individual, family and group therapy, there are numerous other specialties with very specific objectives that are offered.

James Underhill, PsyD, MP works with clients in the realm of medication management, by helping them to find the appropriate medication considering their own health history as well as personal concerns and goals to help individuals manage their medications safely and effectively.

Christine Powanda, PhD conducts psychological and behavioral testing for children and adolescents as well as adults, in order to address behavioral issues, help with coordinating school accommodations and diagnose conditions such as ADD and ADHD. Dr. Dawn Sharpless, PhD performs psychological evaluations for adults and has extensive experience in veteran counseling for any individual who has served in the military and is coping with the challenges of daily life. Dr. Sharpless also utilizes her certifications in performing EMDR therapy to assist individuals who have PTSD or have experienced trauma.

Couples therapy and pre-marital counseling are available as well as play therapy for children as young as three years old. Diversion and court-appointed counseling programs run by Luis Socarras, LPC help to give first time offenders a second chance on making the right decisions for a productive and healthy adult life. There are also addiction and substance abuse counselors on staff to help anyone who needs support.

Psychiatric evaluations for pain management procedures and surgeries are utilized in keeping clients safe as they choose if a procedure or surgery is appropriate and/or necessary for a positive quality of life.

Northshore Counseling and Wellness continues to evolve in the field of child custody evaluations. A judge may order a child custody evaluation when parents need assistance in organizing a parenting plan for the benefit and well-being of the child/children involved. This may also be a voluntary evaluation that parents choose to undergo, in order to construct an effective method of raising healthy children in a divorced home.

In just the past year, the number of clinicians that handled child custody evaluations was limited to two; however, now a group of seven professionals work within a team model designed to thoroughly assess which parent is more fit to receive custody rights. The team members involved in child custody evaluations are advocates for the children and the court system. The continued growth of the entire child custody evaluation process that the staff of Northshore Counseling and Wellness have developed is leading the way in cutting-edge new methods of implementing the protocol, for the best interest of the children during this process.

The staff of Northshore Counseling and Wellness is embracing the potential for growth that the future holds in all aspects of each specialty that they offer. In 2019 and 2020, they are striving to expand services beyond therapy into the educational, business and court communities so that they can establish a prominent presence outside of the office facility.

With an expanding social media presence on Facebook and Instagram, the team of Northshore Counseling and Wellness are able to bring awareness of the services offered, along with building an active network of online community to aid in the overall team/family aura that exudes from the staff and clientele as a whole.

​The focus on improving the community is the top priority of Northshore Counseling and Wellness. The staff adhere to the philosophy that in order to make the larger community better, it starts with the individual, then the family. By building strong emotional foundations in the lives of clients and their families, the staff of Northshore Wellness and Counseling are building more than a “better you”; they are building a “better world”.

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