Contact Family First Adolescent Services
The trained and experienced team at Family First Adolescent Services has the clinical and therapeutic expertise necessary to treat teen behavioral and mental health issues. Our collective skill set is centered around treating teen substance use disorders, teen mental health disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
James McManus, LMHC, MCAP
As the founder and owner of Family First Adolescent Services, I’ve devoted my career to understanding and treating the unique circumstances of young people grappling with drug and alcohol addiction, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I attended Florida State University, where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree, then a Masters degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University. I have extensive training through the University of Pennsylvania’s Head of Psychiatry, Edna Foa, in the use of Prolonged Exposure Therapy to treat PTSD. I also attended the world-renowned Beck Institute to study Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for suicide and depression in adolescents.
I began my career helping individuals and families at Caron Foundation’s Hanley Center. Through thousands of hours of individual, family and group therapy, I have designed treatment plans and programs that have become the basis of Family First Adolescent Services. I am truly passionate about helping young people and their families learn, grow, and recover.
Ben Cecil, BA, CAP
Chief Operating Officer
Ben Cecil specializes in helping adolescents and their families to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Ben obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and has more than ten years of experience, including the Caron Foundation’s Hanley Center as a counselor at the Center for Men’s Recovery, as well as Clinical Supervisor for Outpatient Services. Ben has also developed specialized programming and training for future addiction professionals.
Treatment: motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems therapy.
Dr. Edward Barias, MD
Dr. Barias worked for almost three years as a Mental Health Counselor in Miami, Florida, then in 2013 completed his four years of Residency Training in General Psychiatry at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York. In 2014, Dr. Barias decided to sub-specialize in Addiction Psychiatry and completed his Fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center also in NYC. He complimented his medical experience at Queens Hospital Center and Rikers Island Prison-Department of Corrections.
In 2014 Dr. Barias relocated to the state of Florida, primarily to the city of West Palm Beach; where he solidified his experience in General Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry while serving as Hanley Center’s Medical Director until June 2018. Dr. Barias is excited to bring his expertise in dual diagnosis treatment to Family First Adolescent Services.
He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association and also the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.
Filippo Poma, M.A.
Filippo graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors in Social Work in 2015, and also graduated with his Masters in Applied Psychology at Lynn University in May 2017.
Filippo has worked with teenagers and older adults in several different clinical settings from sober living to acute psychiatric care.
Originally from Costa Rica, Filippo began his own journey of recovery at age 20 which has imbued him with experience and knowledge that he enjoys passing on to other young men in recovery. He strives to help the young men at Family First find a life of joy and purpose through hard work.
Mike Giresi, CAC, CTP, ICADC, RYT
Director of Clinical Development
Mike found his passion for helping others through his own journey of healing and recovery. He started his career in the mental health field working with clients who suffered from complex trauma and PTSD, as well as chemical and process addictions. He has since traveled to India to study and become certified in Yoga and Meditation. He is a Certified Addiction Counselor in the state of Florida, a nationally Certified Trauma Professional through Spirit2Spirit Healing (a five-module, 200+ hour certification and training focused on current and comprehensive approaches to treating unresolved trauma and grief), and is a Certified Breathworker.
Mike uses a blend of attachment-focused, experiential, creative, and traditional therapeutic approaches to empower and bring about hope, resilience, and autonomy in his clients. He believes that a person’s path to healing starts when someone can meet them on their darkest day with love, compassion, and understanding.
Manny has over 15 years of experience in the mental health and addiction field. He brings to Family First a wealth of knowledge and experience administering substance abuse programs in the South Florida area with a proven track record of maintaining high-quality clinical care and high rates of success among those that graduate from his programs. Manny received his Bachelor's degree in 1991 from the University of Miami and his Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2003 from Nova Southeastern University. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and is certified by the National Board of Counselors. He specializes in treating addiction, anxiety disorders, co-dependency and family conflict. He is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and has developed trauma programs utilizing EMDR, hypnotherapy, expressive arts and experiential workshops. Manny has been a qualified clinical supervisor since 2006, preparing mental health professionals for their lifelong goals of helping clients and their families.
Manny is most passionate working with children and adolescents. He has worked with teens and their families in their homes, hospitals, substance abuse treatment settings and private practice. He is a leader and trainer in the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children and served on many community planning boards to help make his community a better place to live.
Graham H. Barrett
Director of Outreach
Bio coming soon...
Nicole Seidman, MS
Nicole obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology with a specialization in Counseling from Lynn University. She completed her practicum experience focusing on adolescents and adults struggling with mental health issues at The Faulk Center for Counseling in Boca Raton, FL. Nicole also has extensive experience working closely with children and adolescents with Autism as well as facilitating group therapy within the Palm Beach County School District for a variety of different trauma related issues.
Nicole’s therapeutic approach has been greatly influenced by her unique experience as a Doula, where she has been trained to see things from a developmental perspective and approach clients with compassion and empathy. Her focus is to empower clients by guiding them to use their own innate creativity to recognize and heal the wounds that keep them stuck.
Claude Cayemitte, MS
Claude earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Communication and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University. Claude is an award-winning psychotherapist, receiving the Minority Fellowship Award from the Council of Social Work Education for his work with at-risk teens. Claude is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional through the International Association of Trauma Professionals and has extensive training in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy. Claude has experience facilitating workshops on mindfulness, meditation, and trauma-informed care. Claude believes in the majestic power of conversation, allowing him the privilege to help families overcome obstacles to being happy, healthy and connected.
Laura Sorte, MSW
Laura has experience working at a variety of levels within community mental health and substance abuse treatment settings. Prior to entering the mental health field, Laura pursued her passion for working in culinary arts because of the universal power that food has to bring people together cross-culturally and the benefits of having a healthy relationship with food. Laura then earned her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with a concentration in Sociology from Mercy College.
After that, Laura earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University and is currently in the process of pursuing licensure. Laura also has training and experience in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Laura also has experience in helping to support homeless families to gain resources and placement into homes in order to set them up for lifelong success. Laura utilizes mindfulness-based approaches, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing with a strengths-based perspective to create a space of unconditional positive regard to foster hope and self-acceptance within adolescents and their families.
Jennifer Garcia, MS
Jennifer Garcia earned her undergraduate degree from Johnson and Wales University in Criminal Justice and Psychology. After three years in the field of criminal justice, Jenn decided to pursue a career as a therapist. She transitioned to Florida to earn her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Jenn has worked in various settings assisting individuals, families and couples struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders. She has extensive experience using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Mindfulness techniques through a trauma informed lense. She is also in the process of training in the Neuro-Affective Relational Model™ (NARM) for working with attachment, relational and developmental trauma. Aside from Jenn’s personal passion of being an avid animal lover, her professional pursuit is empowering adolescents to develop greater self-awareness, autonomy and self-love through establishing a safe space to process and heal.
Intake / Alumni Coordinator
Kevin Johnson was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and has been working in the recovery field for three years. Kevin’s first two years were spent working with the adult population in early recovery. While serving as an active leader of the youth group at his church, Kevin found a passion for helping adolescents and has never looked back. Kevin is currently pursuing his CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) through the Florida Certification Board and intends on being a clinician in the substance abuse field. Kevin assists clients in developing life skills while in our program and plans outings for the group.
Lisa Knapp, M Ed
Director of Education
Lisa graduated from the State University of New York College at Brockport with a BA in Health Science before moving to Florida to complete her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University.
Prior to her career in education, Lisa worked as a Health Fitness Specialist for Florida Power and Light, performing health education responsibilities for company employees. Most recently, Lisa has spent 12 years working with students and families in Florida school districts where she served as a Physical Education and Science Teacher. She has represented as facilitator for Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support teams, leading schools to Gold Model status. Lisa was also actively involved in district STEM initiatives and represented her home district as a presenter at multiple Florida State Science Conferences. She is a published lesson plan writer for Florida’s educational collaborative platform, CPALMS and certified as a Clinical Education Instructor.
In partnership with EdOptions faculty and staff, Lisa is delighted to have the opportunity to help each student and family at Banyan Academy develop a personalized education plan based on their unique circumstances and needs.
Derek Farrell, BA, BS
Derek has over a decade of personal and professional experience in adolescent recovery. Derek’s passion for working with adolescents comes from his own journey of finding recovery as a teenager. Derek first earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Behavior as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry with a minor in Spanish from Florida Atlantic University.
Derek is also a licensed Certified Nursing Assistant through the Florida Board of Nursing and has worked in various roles at both mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. Derek believes that there is no single solution or “right answer” to the challenges that adolescents and their families face – encouraging each individual to find their own path to educational and personal success on their journey of recovery.
Kerissa Blue, MS. Ed
Kerissa brings over a decade of knowledge and experience working with youth in a variety of capacities from residential to public school settings. Kerissa earned her Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Criminology and English while minoring in Juvenile Justice from Florida State University. Kerissa also earned a Master’s Degree in English Education from Nova Southeastern University.
Kerissa’s passion for working with adolescents and their families comes from her belief that success and learning happen when each person is met as an individual with a unique set of skills and needs. Kerissa also has many years of experience volunteering in her community to help at-risk youth and their families find the resources they need to be successful both inside and outside of the classroom.
Mike Levi received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University in 2017, and is pursuing his Masters in Social Work. Born in Brazil, Mike speaks three different languages, and is a talented musician as well as artist. Mike has worked with children and adolescents from the ages of six to eighteen for past three years in different educational and clinical settings spanning from Art Teacher to Counselor Assistant.
Director of Support Services
Tucker Powers has chosen a career path in helping teens through the challenges of having a substance use disorder and the early recovery process. He is currently pursuing his CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) through the Florida Certification Board as well as continuing his education in addiction studies. Tucker’s positivity and overall demeanor help our clients feel safe and supported when they are dealing with the emotional and behavioral struggles that occur in the treatment process.
Lead Counselor Assistant
Robert Smith is very passionate about mind-body health and dedicated to helping teens in the early recovery process. He began his personal recovery journey as a young adult and finds purpose in helping teens as they begin their own journeys at such a young age. Rob spends his free time volunteering in various environments like elementary schools and foster care programs. Along with his passion for helping others, Rob has extensive experience as a personal trainer and training director, focusing on physical health as a means to promote well-rounded living. Rob believes that communicating strong boundaries with love and compassion can provide consistency and stability for teens during and after their treatment process. Rob is also currently pursuing his certification as a CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) through the Florida Certification Board.
Lead Counselor Assistant
Brad Compton was raised in Nashville, TN and relocated to South Florida in 2014 to start his own recovery journey. Since then, Brad has found a career working in the mental health field, and now a home here at Family First. Brad leads our teenagers in many of our experiential activities such as the ropes course, wake-boarding, paddle-boarding, and deep-sea fishing. Being an active member of his recovery community, Brad speaks at meetings, conventions and takes young men who are newly sober through the 12 steps on a regular basis. In 2016, Brad began pursuing a degree in Social Work and plans to continue his education in this field. He is also in the process of obtaining his CAC (Certified Addiction Counselor) designation through the Florida Certification Board. Brad believes that being a big kid at heart while maintaining professional boundaries allows him to connect with our teenagers in a way that is non-threatening, non-judgmental, and supports their learning and growth.
Neal Hoontis has 6 years of experience working in the recovery field. Neal’s experience started as a Resident Manager of a local 501(c)(3) Aftercare Center here in Florida and continued to progress as a Client Services Coordinator, Admissions Specialist, as well as a Program Director. He has extensive experience assisting families with identify appropriate and feasible treatment options for their loved ones. Neal currently is pursuing a bachelors in Social Work as well as a Certification in Addiction Counseling. During Neal’s downtime he enjoys hobbies such as golfing, painting, and working on Bonsai Trees.