What’s the quickest way to get an appointment with you?
Click here to contact me via web form, or call right now at 828-279-2551.
Who should come to see you?
People come to counseling because they want to make their lives better or different. Gifted adolescents are at-risk for misdiagnosis, school problems, self-esteem issues, and the feeling that they don’t belong. Gifted adults may feel like misfits, wrestle with existential issues, and struggle to find and keep intimacy.
People experiencing divorce need to come out of crisis, figure out how to navigate the process, reflect on patterns that aren’t working, and chart a course toward the lives they always wanted.
Anyone who is seeking to grow beyond anxiety, depression, trauma, and grief will find good counseling helpful.
What makes you different from other counselors in Asheville?
I’ve got a down to earth approach, and effectiveness is my highest priority. This means you can relax and feel confident that you’re going to get what you need as expeditiously as possible. I have my own counselor, so I don’t use your time to work on my issues! I check in regularly with you about your sense of our progress, and we make adjustments whenever needed. I also have a sense of humor and like to laugh.
I’ve worked with people from all walks of life in all sorts of circumstances. No matter your situation, it’s likely you’ll be able to draw on my seventeen years of experience.
I come at my work from a service ethic. I choose to be a counselor because I believe that we do well when we do good for others. This means the work is always about serving your needs.
I’ve tried counseling before, and it just wasn’t working. The counselor was weird/just nodded a lot/didn’t understand the issues. What’s going to be different if I come to see you?
Most people who come for a first visit with me find that they feel comfortable, understood, and confident that I can help. I’ll learn exactly what you want to get out of the counseling process. We’ll come to understand how you got where you are. Then we will map a course from Point A to Point B. Counseling will help you and/or your teen traverse that space, uncovering the patterns that have kept you stuck and empowering you to become the kind of person and to have the kind of life you want.
What happens in counseling with you? What kinds of things will be happening?
If you’re in crisis, we’ll work to come out of that. Step one will be to establish a place of relative calm.
We’ll develop your vision of the life you want. I’ll ask questions like, “If we’re successful, what will be different in your life?” We’ll map your values together and focus on getting aligned with them. You’ll gain awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, giving you more control than ever over the choices you’re making. We’ll laugh when life is funny, and we’ll struggle together with the hard stuff. You’ll be listened to, understood, and never judged.
You may want to have deeper relationships, more confidence, more joy. You may want to figure out how to live a life with less anger, less anxiety, less depression. You may be at a new starting place after a divorce or retirement, and you want to chart a new course. Counseling gives you a focused space to do the work you need to do in order to have the life you want.
What is your training, and what approaches do you employ?
I earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Western Carolina University in 2001. I have a Rogerian Person-Centered Therapy foundation, and the therapeutic frameworks I most often use are Cognitive Behavioral, Solution Focused, Family Systems, and Existential.
Why do you like doing this work?
It’s real. Sometimes it can feel like we’re just grazing the surface of our lives, and counseling allows people to dive deep. Experiencing authenticity with others? That kind of genuineness makes life feel very rich, indeed. It is an honor to travel alongside people as they find their way to better lives.
How did you get into this?
I’ve been serving people my whole adult life. At Warren Wilson College I was starting a reading program in Black Mountain Primary School. Then I spent two years doing community reconciliation work in Belfast, Northern Ireland with Protestant and Catholic teens. After that I got into the mental health profession, first working with troubled teens in Georgia, then heading back to western North Carolina to get my Master’s degree in Counseling from WCU. I served children, teens, adults, and families in Buncombe, Henderson, and Transylvania counties with various agencies from 2001-2008.
Agency life was too constraining for me, however. I found it too restrictive, and I was spending too much time on bureaucratic requirements that didn’t have anything to do with my clients’ success. I’d discovered a passion and aptitude for counseling, and wanted to do as much of it as possible. That led to private practice in 2008, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What results have you seen?
The mother of a teenage client offered this:
My oldest son is extremely intelligent. Off the charts really. This created many problems with teachers, counselors, and everyone involved in his life. He’s also an incredibly physically active and talented individual. Sadly, I went through some extremely difficult experiences with him. His behavior became unmanageable, and I was at my wits end. His grades dropped. His behavior worsened. He became very unhappy. I tried rewards systems, natural consequences, numerous counselors (most of whom he simply outsmarted), special diets, doctors, lots of sports, acupuncture, medications, and every possible route to find help and support for him. It was only when we began working with Gordon Smith that I found hope that he would be able to pull it together and be successful in life. Gordon was able to connect with him, to understand him, and to help him heal and find his voice. I’m deeply grateful that we were able to work with Gordon. His intelligence, understanding, compassion, and deep dedication to his field is invaluable. I can gladly say that my son is now very successful as an adult. I cannot imagine how we would’ve succeeded without Gordon’s help. I recommend him highly.
You also specialize in working with people experiencing divorce?
Yes. Divorce begins in crisis and ends in opportunity, and I have developed my counseling practice to help people move out of crisis into navigating the logistics and then using the experience as a springboard into a fulfilling future. I’ve seen clients move through crisis and into confident, empowered direction. Clients have come to understand the patterns that held them back and the values they want to embody every day. They’ve taken action and created new lives full of intimacy, purpose, and joy.
How will I know if it has helped me?
You’ll be moving in the direction you and/or your teen has chosen. You’ll feel unstuck. You’ll be more aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You’ll feel more empowered than ever. Your teenager will be more independent, open, and confident. She’ll be pursuing her passions AND taking care of her responsibilities.
Is it really possible that this will work?
Happens all the time!
What kind of person will not benefit from working with you?
If you don’t want to talk to someone, then talk therapy is definitely not for you!
In addition – If substance abuse is the primary issue at the moment, then I’ll recommend a substance abuse counselor. If you or your teen has been hospitalized for safety in the last twelve months, I may not be able to offer the intensive interventions that are needed.
If you’re just looking for someone to testify on your behalf in a custody trial, then I’ll recommend shopping for someone else.
Why do I need counseling? Can’t I just do this on my own?
You can give it a shot! There are tons of self-help books out there, and you may have friends that are enough. However, I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t benefit from focused time with a professional counselor. Knowing yourself requires making space to do so. Charting a course for your future requires time and focus. Negotiating the space between where you are and where you’re going can be faster and better when you take the opportunity to come into counseling.
How can I justify the expense?
We spend so much on so much. Mortgages, dinners out, vacations, college – these things are expensive! But when it comes to having the life you want, we have the tendency to spend on temporary comforts or excitements a lot more often than we spend on understanding ourselves and making our lives better. You’ll spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on your house. Value your one wild and precious life as much as you do your vehicle, house, or trip to Mexico, and you’ll never be sorry.