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Welcome to Lowcountry Psychiatric Associates! Our providers and staff are focused on providing personal, caring and expert assessment and treatment. Our practice provides comprehensive outpatient services for a wide variety of mental health issues including individual, family, and group psychotherapy, along with comprehensive psychological evaluations. Our practice is experienced in working with physicians, legal professionals, non-profit organizations, state agencies and inpatient facilities. Each professional has a special experience and training which allows our group to provide expert assistance for a wide variety of situations.

Our practice has 2 locations to make it more convenient for all of our patients. Our providers are pleased to have a comprehensive psychiatric practice that will allow us to care for our patients in the Lowcountry for many years to come.

  • The Bluffton location is easily accessible to many Lowcountry communities including Bluffton, Hardeeville, Ridgeland, and Beaufort, S.C. It is also convenient to Sun City and Savannah, Ga.
  • The Hilton Head location at Shelter Cove provides closer access to our patients who live and/or work on Hilton Head Island. 

**Both offices are handicapped equipped and easily accessible.


Dr. Joseph Walters and Dr. Richard Ford are licensed medical physicians (MD) practicing general psychiatry and both completed their Doctorate of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. The scope of their practice includes but is not limited to a broad range of anxiety, mood, substance use, psychotic, family/relationship, and geriatric/memory disorders. Treatment approaches are case-dependent, but can include medication management, psychotherapy, or a combination thereof.

Services provided by Richard Ford, M.D., Joseph Walters, M.D. and Leah Carter-Lafountain, NP  are private fee for services. 

They do not accept any insurance or file insurance claims and all patients are self pay. Elimination of insurance obligations has allowed these providers to provide high-quality services that are tailored to your personal needs, not insurance company demands. Therefore, you will need to pay out-of-pocket at the time of service. Payment is due in full at the time of service and payments need to be made payable to your physician. However, we will provide the necessary paperwork for you to file your insurance, upon request.        

Joseph Walters, III, M.D.   

Dr. Walters graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina, and he completed his residency in general psychiatry at M.U.S.C. and has been in private practice on Hilton Head Island since 2006. 

Richard Ford, M.D.

Dr. Ford completed his residency in general psychiatry at the University of Florida and completed a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the University of California-Davis.

Fall 2021:  LPA welcomes Leah Carter-Lafountain, PMHNP-BC to our Bluffton Location....







Leah Carter is a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She works with adults treating a variety of psychiatric disorders including Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorder.

She utilizes both medication management and brief supportive therapy.

After graduating from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she worked as a registered nurse. She then went on to earn her Master of Science in nursing with specialization as a psychiatric nurse practitioner from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her past work experiences includes a psychiatric private practice, a brain and spinal rehabilitation hospital, and a surgical intensive care unit. She has over seven years of nursing experience.


Vicki Bonnell, LISW-CP

I have had the privilege of helping those in need since 1981 when I received a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from New York University. I am a Licensed Independent Social Worker-Clinical Practice in South Carolina and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York State.

I specialize in the treatment of adolescent girls and women. I hold a deep passion and commitment to helping women of all ages heal from a myriad of life’s challenges. 

I am committed to journeying with the woman who has lost her way, lost her Self, perhaps has given it over to someone else, who feels trapped, frightened or even terrified at not only discovering her true Self but believing she is not worthy of it.

I learn from those with whom I work that people can survive, heal, become whole despite the severity of fracture and live empowered, celebrated lives.

I am committed to a kind of therapeutic relationship where people can come and experience safety, respect, creativity, hope and ultimate change and restoration.

I am committed to honoring the person with an integrative approach to healing including the physical, emotional, psychological, cognitive and spiritual parts.

My treatment approach is eclectic blending primarily Psychodynamic Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. The key focus is on the discovery and resolution of motivations for one’s current areas of struggle stemming from family of origin and childhood conflicts and/or trauma. I combine this insight-oriented approach with exploring the relationship between negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors and working towards altering those to more positive patterns of thinking, believing and behaving together with other creative approaches including the use of EMDR. 


  • Depression
  • Abuse and Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Personality
  • Adjustment
  • Bulimia
  • Co-Dependent Relationships
  • Loss and Complicated Grief
  • Sexuality and Sexual-Orientation Conflict and Resolution
  • Adolescent/Young Adulthood Crises
  • Child and Family/Parenting Conflicts
  • Specialized treatment to the “creative” including artists, dancers, musicians,writers as well as athletes
  • The Emotional, Psychological, Cognitive Impact of Breast Cancer and Other Medical Illnesses 

I am happily married to a man who is an artist. I have two sons, both of whom have allowed me the greatest gift of being their mother.

** Vicki Bonnell is in network with most major insurance panels, including Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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