Heritage counselors

Counselors Leah Smith and Stephen Thomas are taking new clients at Heritage Christian Counseling Ministries new Ashland branch. 

ASHLAND - After several years of rapid growth at its main office in Mansfield, Heritage Christian Counseling Ministries has opened a second branch in Ashland.

Heritage counselors Tom Russell, LPCC-S, Stephen Thomas, LPCC, and Leah Smith, LPC, are eager to welcome new clients to their new location, which opened in January in the Medical Arts Building at 1060 Claremont Avenue. Clients will also be greeted by Scout, a Goldendoodle that serves as Heritage's emotional support dog.

Russell started Heritage on Fourth Street in Mansfield in 1996 and incorporated the business in 2000. Around 2013, when the business relocated to its current location at 1066 Lexington Avenue, Heritage began to see faster growth.

The counseling center quickly outgrew its building and built an addition, and now Heritage is expanding again by adding a second office. 

Ashland seemed like an ideal fit for the business's growth, Russell said. 

"It just seemed like the Lord continued to point us in that direction," he said.

All three counselors are graduates of Ashland Theological Seminary. Thomas and Smith both live in Ashland and have a desire to see the agency become actively involved in the Ashland community. 

Medical Arts building

The Medical Arts Building at 1060 Claremont Avenue is now home to Heritage Christian Counseling Ministries' Ashland location. 

Thomas specializes in counseling adults and adolescents experiencing trauma, grief, mood disorders and anxiety. He also has experience counseling clients with obsessive compulsive disorders as well as providing family and marriage counseling.

Smith has experience counseling members of the Amish and Mennonite communities and also specializes in counseling teens and preteens. She has worked with clients with bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders as well as anxiety, depression and trauma. 

"My view is anybody can benefit from counseling," Smith said. "We all have times in our life where we need outside help from someone who is not so close to us as our family. I think there's no shame in it at all." 

Thomas agrees.

"I think there's this idea that I need to handle my problems on my own, and one of the things I think we often forget about is our brain is wired for community," he said. "We're not meant to go it alone, and we don't have to."

Russell said clients seem to appreciate that Heritage is not just Christian in name only. Its counselors primarily offer faith-based counseling, though they are willing to work with clients who are not Christian or prefer not to approach counseling from a faith-based perspective.

Heritage is not a place for judgement, condemnation or Bible-thumping, Russell said. 

"One of the core tenets of what it means to be a Christian is we love everyone, and one of the founding ethical ideas of being a counselor is we work with everyone where they are at in life, whatever situation they or or whatever they are struggling with," Thomas said. 

Heritage also places an emphasis on supporting families, Russell said. 

"The word heritage has always been close to my heart because, to me, it means, 'What are we passing on to our children? What does a daughter see about how mom and dad manage their marriage? And likewise for the son, what does a son see about how a dad treats a mom?'" Russell said. 

Heritage's counselors are on most insurance panels, and Heritage takes third party Medicaid providers including CareSource, Molina, Buckeye and United Healthcare.

For more information about Heritage Christian Counseling Ministries and its counselors or to schedule an appointment at the Ashland location, visit hccashland.com or call 419-496-0007.