Anxiety is the most common complaint I find in people seeking counseling. It can manifest in many ways, such as worry, panic, anger, procrastination, and social avoidance. People with anxiety may function well under pressure but may find themselves paralyzed when they anticipate some negative future event or task. Anxious disorders include specific phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and agoraphobia.
Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress
Trauma is often described as exposure a threat (real or imagined) that activates the brain's fight/flight/freeze response. I believe trauma can also be any emotionally-charged experience that a person cannot yet integrate into the way they think about themselves. Unresolved, trauma can lead to anxiety disorders, avoidance, substance abuse, and different forms of dissociation. People with trauma-related disorders often need to reprocess the past so that they can leave it in the past and begin moving forward.
Recovery From Narcissistic Abuse
I often compare narcissists to black holes: Just as we detect black holes in space by the effects they have on the objects caught in their gravitational pull, we can detect narcissists by the effects they have on the people around them. Often charming and charismatic, they draw us into their "orbit" and, once they have us, they demand that we feed their bottomless need for admiration. They may use drama and "gaslighting" to keep us close and to manipulate us into believing that their bad behavior is somehow our fault.
Next to trauma, the most common reason people come to me is that they have experienced a crisis and are having difficulty adjusting. This can be from a major life event, such as a breakup, divorce, or a death, or it can simply be that they are having a difficult time navigating changes experienced through the natural processes of life, such as forming an adult identity as a young person or finding meaning and purpose in midlife.
I'm a Georgia native, though I have also lived in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. At the age of 20, I began experiencing debilitating bouts of anxiety and panic. The resulting decline in my ability to function led in turn to a deep depression, for which I finally sought help. It was this experience that started my lifelong search for the answers to human suffering.
In my thirties, I sought to become an Episcopal priest, a pursuit that eventually (and ironically) led me to leave the faith altogether. This presented many personal, existential, and moral crises, some of which I resolved through my studies of Buddhism and the tenets of mindfulness and impermanence. For many years now I have been an avowed atheist and secular humanist. (I do believe something exists that is transcendent, even if it is just a subjective experience, so some might call me a Deist, but I do not believe there is an invisible person in the sky and I find that religious doctrines and dogmas are ultimately a hindrance, if not outright destructive). I make a point of advertising this because many of my clients have experienced mistreatment at the hands of organized religion and have had trouble finding a purely secular counselor.
I hold two Master's Degrees: one in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University,and one in Religious Studies from Georgia State University, where I also taught briefly. I have also studied Literature at Georgia State and Psychology at the University of West Georgia. I am a music-lover, a meditation practitioner, a film enthusiast, an avid reader, and the father of two fantastic adult children. I live in Kennesaw with my son, Sam, who is an aspiring filmmaker.
I am LGBTQ friendly and sex-positive. I am deeply committed to ethical thought and behavior, to the pursuit of truth, and to sound scientific principles, even if I do not always like where the data leads me.
I follow the State of Georgia's best practices for accountability, working with both a director and a supervisor. My clinical supervisor is Dr. David Markwell, LPC, CPCS, and my director is Camille McDaniel, LPC.
The photos on this page were taken by me in 2012 while visiting the Isle of Iona in Scotland's Inner Hebrides.