3rdchair

Who We Are

 

 

At 3rdchair, we pride ourselves on finding beautifully flawed people to help keep the dream going.


Life isn’t always easy.  The answers to our problems are elusive and blurry at best and only with the calming and encouraging voices of our wisest friends can we move forward.  Life is messy, difficult and confusing and we too have known struggle, pain, depression and shame.  The only reason we can support others is because, we ourselves, are being supported.  Without our friends, relatives, teachers, professors, mentors and donors cheering us on, we couldn’t do this.  Therefore, with this support in place, we’ve devoted our lives to helping those who might not have the support.   So let this model of being blessed and blessing others ring true for you as well.  We’ve been served, so in turn, let us serve you as well.  This is our charge and mission and we embrace it.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  The youth of West Michigan deserve it.

 

Meet Our Staff

 

 

Scott McKnight,  Founding Director                      LMSW Clinical Practice, MBA

Scott founded 3rdchair to meet the needs of young adults of Grand Rapids. 

He has made it a full-time endeavor to counsel, mentor, and speak to schools, colleges, churches, seminaries and other groups regarding the challenges and mental health concerns facing today’s youth.

Scott works in groups or one on one and is gifted in dealing with sexual abuse, addictions, self-injury (cutting), eating disorders, anxiety, depression, grief and relationship struggles.  He makes it easy for young people to communicate how they really feel and gives them the tools to articulate their thoughts.  He works with people so they can build constructive relationships with others by being aware of the needs around them.  

Scott received his Masters of Social Work in Clinical Practice from Western Michigan University as well as further training through Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.  He also received a Masters in Business Administration in International Finance from Old Dominion University.  

Outside of 3rdchair, Scott has coached soccer for the past 8 years; worked summer camps for Harbor Hospice and Ele's Place, walking along side youth who experienced death of a family member; facilitated groups for high school students who are experiencing anticipatory grief; volunteered for Junior Achievement – Project Business teaching students about building a business; and has volunteered with with Binder Park Zoo and the Humane Society.


Kristen Rogers, LLPC, Counselor

Kristen Rogers is a graduate of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary where she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling.  While pursuing interdisciplinary studies, she was able to focus her coursework on women’s issues as well as child and adolescent development.  Kristen’s studies increased her desire to walk with women through issues such as abuse, anxiety, depression, and self-worth and to assist them towards goals of healing and healthy living.

While studying at Cornerstone University, Kristen was a resident assistant and had the privilege of helping young women through the personal, social, and transitional challenges of college life.  After graduating, she received the Faculty Counseling Award for excellence in counseling.  Her invaluable service at 3rdchair also includes working with young adults and couples.  In her spare time, she enjoys the company of her husband and energetic son as well as reading, traveling, music, art projects, and serving at her church.


Sarah Benton, LLMSW, Counselor

Sarah Benton is a graduate of Grand Valley State University where she received her Master of Social Work degree. Sarah also earned her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Grand Valley State University. In addition to working at the 3rd chair, Sarah also works at Family Outreach Center where she provides counseling to children, teens, and families from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Sarah also spent time working in the adolescent residential unit at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. Through these experiences, she has seen first-hand how traumatic experiences and difficult times affect a person’s life. Sarah has enjoying helping young people overcome their pain, grief, sadness, and worries.

Sarah understands that transitioning into adulthood can be an extremely challenging time filled with worry, pain, and confusion. Her hope is to walk with you on the journey to let you know that you are not alone. Sarah has experience working with those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationship issues, and grief. Her passion is to help teens and young adults find joy and peace in their life.

In her free time, Sarah can be found going for bike rides and walks with her husband and dog, a basset hound named Beatrice. Sarah particularly delights in sunny days spent at the beach and nights spend by a bonfire during the summer time. Sarah also enjoys cooking (and eating!) and crafting.

 

Stephanie Bergman, LLPC, Counselor

Stephanie is a graduate from Spring Arbor University with a Master of Arts degree in Counseling.  Prior, she graduated from Kuyper College with a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Youth Ministry and Bible/Theology, and minors in Worship Studies and Communication Arts.

Stephanie’s unique background and experiences, combined with her education, have prepared her well to work with young adults and college-aged students. She has spent the past seven years working on college campuses in Career & Counseling, Student Life and Admissions departments. Outside of the college campus environment, Stephanie has also been a middle and high school student youth leader in her church for over 10 years. These combined experiences have afforded her the opportunity to walk with young adults as they experience all of the joys and sorrows that are involved in growing up and discovering the person they are meant to be.   She has experience working with those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, life transitions, relationship issues, and self-worth. Her passion for walking with young adults comes out of her own personal experiences and her belief that with time and effort, joy and healing are possible.

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys reading, being outdoors, exploring Grand Rapids, drinking coffee, crafting, digging through thrift stores, and spending time with her awesome husband, super cute kid, and crazy dog.


Anna Psaute, LLPC, counselor

Anna received her Masters degree in counseling from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. There she pursued interdisciplinary studies which allowed her to take classes in adolescent development and the life cycle of females.   She has an interest and experience in supporting, encouraging and equipping those struggling with anxiety and depression.

Before grad school,  Anna attended Adrian College where she played basketball for a few years before transferring to Grand Valley State University to finish her Bachelor’s degree in Health Professions.  Anna’s love for sports and competition keeps her active. She has spent several years coaching middle school basketball and currently coaches the women’s softball team at her church.  Anna is also involved with the High School group at the church she attends.


Benjamin Santee, LLPC, Counselor

Benjamin is a graduate of Spring Arbor University with a Master of Arts degree in Counseling. He also holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in Psychology and another in Sociology. 
 
While working on his graduate degree Ben focused on serving the families and children of the State of Michigan as a Foster Care Case Manager and worked in that field for three years. Ben has over seven years of experience serving families in a professional capacity in residential treatment, Foster Care, and as a Therapist.
 
Prior to pursuing a career in the helping field Ben was the lead singer and front-man for a Christian band for ten years which traveled the Midwest talking to young adults and kids about life issues. He continues to enjoy playing guitar and singing and volunteers on his church's praise band. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and 2 sons. 


Ashley Rijfkogel, Intern Counselor, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Ashley is currently a student at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, where she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Counseling with a focus in trauma. Prior to her graduate program, she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Leadership from Northpoint Bible College.

Ashley has enjoyed various positions in administration, excelling as a horse instructor as well as devoting her time as a receptionist at an animal emergency hospital.   She has also enjoyed several years of being a young adult leader at Grand Rapids First as well as helping children and youth walk through life after the loss of a loved one by being a group facilitator at Ele’s Place. 

She has a passion for seeking out and connecting with new people as well as being a mentor to the youth. Her focus is directed towards helping those who think they are unimportant or do not belong, feel seen and loved. 

In her spare time, Ashley enjoys reading, scrolling Pinterest, coffee with friends, and longboarding with her husband Nate.  

Melissa PhebusLLPC, Counselor

Melissa is a graduate of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Counseling. Her focus was interdisciplinary studies, which allowed her to take classes focusing on the struggles and triumphs of women as well as a general overview of the philosophy of addiction counseling. Upon graduating Melissa received the Faculty Counseling Award for excellence in counseling.

Prior to getting her MA, Melissa attended Cedarville University where she majored in Philosophy and had two minors, one in History and one in Bible. She also played for Cedarville’s Volleyball team where she learned much about discipline, teamwork, and setting and achieving goals. Though she enjoyed her study in Philosophy, it is not an area that opens up a lot of one-on-one contact with others. Desiring to spend meaningful time with people, Melissa shifted her focus to counseling where she could help others enjoy who they were and take charge in shaping who they wanted to become.

In addition to working at 3rdchair, Melissa also volunteers as a youth leader in her local church where she walks alongside high school women as they journey through school and learn about life. Melissa also enjoys reading, painting, camping and hiking and is always up for a good conversations in a local coffee shop.


 

Audrey FilsonLLPC, Counselor

Audrey is a graduate of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, where she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Theatre from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Originally from Grand Rapids, Audrey’s previous career as an actress gave her the opportunity to travel all around the country and experience a variety of unique cultures. Audrey is passionate about storytelling, and she loves getting to know people through listening to them share their experiences and learning what they think and feel about the things that are important to them. Audrey believes that counseling can be a place where sharing stories leads to greater connection, clarity, and healing.

Audrey loves the arts and is active in the local theatre community. She also loves being outdoors, and a perfect day for her would include singing and playing the ukulele at a Lake Michigan beach with friends and ice cream (or hot chocolate, depending on the season).

 

Stacey Oswald, LLPC, Counselor

Stacey is a graduate of Spring Arbor University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling. She holds Bachelors degrees in Youth Ministry and Biblical Studies from Cornerstone University. 

Stacey has a great amount of experience working with middle and high school aged students. She has spent several years working with youth through a local non-profit organization and also has been involved with youth ministry at her church. Her experience working with this age range in addition to her education have prepared her well to counsel adolescents and young adults. She has experience working with those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, self-worth, relationship issues, and life transitions. 

In addition to counseling, Stacey enjoys being creative through a number of outlets. She loves music, taking photos, dabbling in graphic design, and traveling the world with her husband. She also enjoys trying out new coffee shops and restaurants wherever she goes. 


Karla Kantola, LLPC, Counselor

Karla is a graduate of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary where she received a Master of Arts in Counseling. There she chose to pursue an interdisciplinary study in counseling to best equip herself to help people in many different circumstances. Karla particularly has a passion for helping teens and young adults, which was sparked by her time volunteering in youth group, working in residence life, and from her own journey through adolescence and college.

As a counselor, Karla understands that life sometimes feels overwhelming and out of control. She also understands that it can be intimidating talking to others about these feelings. It’s for this reason that Karla strives to create a warm and welcoming environment when you come to counseling. She works to help you feel comfortable sharing and she right beside you as you begin your process of healing

In addition to counseling, Karla enjoys the arts and she can often be found practicing graphic design, taking photographs, and even occasionally painting. She also enjoys biking and spending time with her energetic black lab in the great outdoors. 

 

Mindy Worley, LLPC, Counselor

Mindy is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling. While earning her counseling degree, Mindy also pursued an emphasis in school counseling, giving her a special insight into the social, emotional, developmental and academic challenges of middle and high school students. Additionally, Mindy holds a bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University where she majored in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies.

Mindy has extensive experience working with teens in both camp ministry and youth ministry with her local church. It was there that she developed a love and a passion for working with adolescents. Mindy has also spent time investing in college age students as both an adjunct professor and academic counselor, and has also done one on one mentoring within this population. Mindy has a strong desire to walk with adolescents and young adults through the valleys of life, helping them to navigate their way to a successful and fulfilling future.

Along with counseling, Mindy is passionate about natural health and whole food nutrition. She values sourcing food locally and preparing healthy meals for her family. Mindy also treasures her roles as wife to an incredible husband and mom to three beautiful children. She loves spending time with her family and watching her children learn and grow. She especially likes being outside with her family, doing things like playing, swimming, biking, walking, and camping! Mindy also enjoys sharing meals with old and new friends, reading, and hobby photography.

Stefanie HathawayIntern Counselor, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Stefanie is a student at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary where she is working toward a Master of Arts in counseling.  She chose to focus on interdisciplinary studies so she could better understand the struggles women and families face and help them thrive in the midst of challenges. 

Stefanie grew up outside of Detroit and received her undergraduate degree in economics from DePauw University.  As Stefanie became more self-aware and better understood her gifts and passions, she felt called to counseling.  She desires to see people pursue wholeness in all areas of their lives including physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and believes the counseling room should be a safe place for individuals to explore their deep hurts and longings.  Furthermore, the process of change and growth excites Stefanie.    

Stefanie is passionate about learning and enjoys reading a good book—especially when she is sitting at the park in the sunshine.  She loves getting to know people and listening to them talk about their passions.  Although she doesn't swim as fast as she did while on her college swim team, she enjoys leisurely swims when she has access to a pool.  She also enjoys going for walks in nature, doing jigsaw puzzles, and wants to learn how to garden. 

 

Chad Westmaas, Intern Counselor, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
 

Chad is a graduate of Grand Valley State University where he earned a Bachelor’s in English and in History.  He is currently studying at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary where he is working towards a Master’s in Counseling.  His focus is on trauma because his desire is to walk with people as they manage all kinds of traumas throughout their lives.

Chad’s passion in counseling is to create a safe and welcoming environment in which teens and young adults can honestly wrestle through their struggles as well as celebrate their triumphs.  His desire is to empower young adults and teens to see their value and to develop the skills they need to thrive wherever they happen to be.  His hope is to meet you with kindness, empathy, and understanding as you walk through the journey of healing and growth. 

In his free time, Chad loves to cook, try out new restaurants, and spend time with his dog, Layla.  He also loves reading, spending time with his friends and family, and sometimes watching a little too much Netflix.

Tyler Mink, Intern Counselor, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Tyler is currently studying at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary to attain a Master’s in Counseling with a focus on addictions & substance abuse. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language at Calvin College.

Tyler did not know the value of counseling until he needed it himself. He is a dire advocate of mental health and forging strong relationships with others. Becoming who you are meant to be is what Tyler believes is one of the most important journey’s one takes in their life. Life is beautiful and Tyler thrives when he is privileged to unlock more of it with you. 

When not at home, Tyler can be found in the gym lifting or working on his jump shot with friends, dancing and listening to any and all types of music, learning languages, or hiking in any park around West Michigan. 

So let this model of being blessed and blessing others ring true for you as well. We’ve been served, so in turn, let us serve you as well. This is our charge and mission and we embrace it. We wouldn’t have it any other way. The youth of West Michigan deserve it.