Coastal Samaritan Counseling Center was launched in 1980 when the Reverend Tom Brittain, Senior Pastor of The First United Methodist Church in Myrtle Beach, asked Dr. Kenneth Smith to offer pastoral counseling services at the church on a part-time basis. Initially known as the Grand Strand Pastoral Counseling Service, the center quickly developed as the demand for services increased and donations from the South Carolina National Bank, the Grand Strand Sertoma Club, the Ocean View Foundation, and the Chapin Foundation made it possible to equip the facilities and fund the services. In 1981, Dr. Smith was appointed full-time Director. In 1983, the Reverend Frances C. Brown joined the clinical staff and was later appointed Associate Director of the center. Over the next few years, several counselors were added to the staff. In 1994, Dr. William Felder was hired as Executive Director. Under his leadership, the center was awarded full accreditation by the Samaritan Institute (since renamed Solihten Institute) in 1996.
The Reverend Kathy T. Heustess joined the staff in 2003 to serve as Clinical Director and Pastoral Counselor. The first satellite office opened in Conway in 2004, followed by two additional offices in 2005. Following Dr. Felder’s retirement, the Board of Trustees promoted Rev. Heustess to Executive Director in 2006. The center continued to grow with the addition of both counselors and satellite offices.
Philip Keilen joined the staff as Development Director in 2017 and was appointed Executive Director in 2018. With primary responsibilities in business development and community involvement, the center adopted a new leadership model. Jane Osment was promoted to Clinical Director in 2018, having served on staff since 2010.
Funded primarily by client fees—supplemented by contributions from individuals, churches, businesses, foundations, and the United Way—the Coastal Samaritan Counseling Center has established itself as a full-service counseling center that is staffed by professionally trained, licensed, and certified clinicians who also supervise professional counselors and social workers in pursuit of licensure. Still, the center has remained true to its roots as a non-profit, community-based pastoral counseling center dedicated to a philosophical and theological conviction that addressing the complex crises and holistic health needs of those in the community requires the knowledge and skills of the modern sciences coupled with the spiritual resources and wisdom of the faith communities.