We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Gilmore and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
There are two difficult decisions I had to make:

1- when my husband was called into ministry and needed to relocate from our homestate of Indiana to North Carolina. We had a one year old daughter and had been in Indiana our entire lives. It was a hard decision to leave our full-time jobs, with a new daughter and no family and move 700 miles away. Agreeing to trust my husband and depend on our faith was difficult. We came here with no friends, family, jobs.. the only thing we had was each other and my husband’s acceptance into school. That was extremely difficult.

2- Leaving my full-time job to work as a contractor for a mental health agency and then start my own private practice. The security of an already established institution is comforting.. you know what income you’ll get every month, health insurance, other benefits. But when you begin your own practice, you have to rebrand and market yourself; establish credit as a business, start entirely over. In the two years, since I left– it’s been the hardest yet most rewarding decision of my career.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My journey started in 2006. I began my first Masters program as a student on academic probation because of my GPA as an undergraduate student. I struggled. It was almost if the administrators of that program wanted to see me fail, to be honest. I excelled eventually and was licensed as a K-12 Guidance Counselor. However. I became pregnant during that time and quickly realized I did not want to be in an academic setting. It was a lot of paperwork. But I was also extremely intimated to misdiagnose a client so I struggled understanding mental health disorders, the DSM-4 (at that time) and failed the National Counseling Exam.

We relocated to North Carolina and I took a job a local university based on work I had done in Indiana. Not related to counseling. And it was a good job until some hard moments– traumatic moments caused me to stop and reflect on the work I was doing, my role as a Black woman in this country and knew I needed to get back to the work I was supposed to be doing. I applied to another Masters program, was accepted and graduated. During this program, I matured significantly.. I found my niche. The thing that gave me life. This experience was extremely different than my first program– online and convenient.. but the faculty was definitely more compassionate and provided opportunities for development.

Today, I’m a Doctoral Student at an HBCU (after being in PWI spaces my academic career) and it feels affirming. I own my own private practice, Gilmore Counseling & Consulting Services, PLLC. I’ve provided talks and presentations from North Carolina, to New Hampshire, to Indiana. (I clearly need to get to the Western part of the country!).

The lessons I’ve learned are to have a strong support system to encourage and motivate you along the journey. My husband, while pursing his own career, has been my best and biggest supporter. My friendship circles allow me to be Ashley-not a therapist and that’s refreshing. I can show up as my authentic self and that’s empowering and helpful to my self-care. I’ve learned that balance is necessary. As a mother, my children have lives. My husband is busy. I’m the only child. My friends uplift me. I enjoy working out. And making time for these things is important. Learning how to prioritize and create balance for the things that fill you back up is necessary. This along with prayer, my faith and a strong support system is how I overcame some hard moments in my career. Definitely a journey– not the easiest, but well worth it.

I want the world to know about me– it’s important to get real with yourself.. that way you can be real with others!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting..she arrived Sunday evening and we would:

Monday- go to brunch at Dames Chicken and Waffles. They have really good waffles and chicken. Then, we’d go visit my children’s school because.. I’m a mother still, lol. Monday night, she’d come workout with me and then we’d rest for the next day.

Tuesday- we’d take an overnight trip to the beach.. Carolina Beach in Wilmington, NC. There’d we go to Kohl’s and get grilled chicken sandwiches and strawberry shortcake. We’d take wine and cheese and fruit to the beach, sit under umbrellas and enjoy the water and breeze. We’d check into our Air BNB and order some sort of seafood dinner, since we’re on the coast. We’d watch a movie, have bottles of wine and drift to sleep.

Wednesday- we’d get up, have a quick breakfast and go back to the beach. We’d eat snacks and leave so we can go back to meet my family for dinner. Rest is important!

Thursday- We would cook breakfast in, do a little work and eat dinner in Downtown Durham. We’d enjoy some tacos, nachos and margaritas at NuvoTaco and then meet some girls for a baseball game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Friday- we’d get up, do a little work and have brunch with some girlfriends at Bull and Bean in Durham. We’d go shopping at Tanger outlet and come back to prepare for an evening out. We would visit do a Wine and Design event at Seven Springs Winery in Norlina with some friends and enjoy the evening!

Saturday- we would have brunch and bottomless Mimosas at It’s A Southern Thing, take a swim in our pool, nap and get ready for another night out in town. We’d visit the Living Room in Durham and spend time with our girls drinking and dancing.

Sunday- we’d have a light breakfast and take her to the airport.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So many people!

My husband, Jeremy and our daughters Jocelyn and Jaelle (and our dog, Jinx).
My mother, aunts, uncle and my favorite cousin.
My circle of friends (entirely too many to name).
Javonte Bass for allowing me to ask questions and develop as a professional.
My church families in Indiana and North Carolina.
Professional organizations such as the National Black Mental Health Symposium & The National Board of Certified Counselors

Website: www.gilmorecouseling.com

Instagram: @getrealwithashg

Linkedin: Ashley D. Gilmore

Twitter: @ashleydgilmore

Facebook: Gilmore Counseling & Consulting Services, PLLC

Image Credits
My personal photographer: Leah Holden at Generations of Ruth Photography, LLC. My husband: Jeremy Gilmore 🙂

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