Michael Kelly

Associate Professor and Chair of Counselor Education

“Life is an education in and of itself. The most important task for all of us is to be patient with ourselves and others. The relationships we enter into with others is the source of our pain and joy, but we can be instruments that heal wounds and help others live more productive and joyous lives.”

When Mike Kelly entered the counseling profession, he preferred clinical work and had no intention of teaching.

As he began working on his master’s degree, he was often asked to fill in for some of his professors during their absence.

“I discovered I enjoyed the interaction and stimulating conversation that presented itself during the course of a lecture,” Kelly said.

He went on to earn his Ph.D. in counseling  and counselor education and has been been teaching ever since.

Kelly’s college career began at Brigham Young University in Utah. After three semesters, he realized he was “overwhelmed by the atmosphere of a large institution.” He transferred to Adams State College in Colorado where he earned his undergraduate degree in psychology, followed by his Master’s in Counseling.

Kelly worked for two years as an outpatient therapist serving a bilingual population and treating the chronically mentally ill. He also worked with families and children, and assisted with groups for addictive behaviors.

He then applied and was admitted to the doctoral program at Idaho State University.

“Upon completing the necessary academic requirements, with the exception of my dissertation, I began looking for work and interviewed at Henderson State,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised by the warm reception I received and the feel I had of the community. I accepted the position in 1992 and completed my dissertation the following year.”

During his tenure at Henderson, Kelly has worked with various clinical agencies, laid the groundwork for a local counseling agency, and has served on the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling.

As a professor, Kelly said he views teaching not so much as disseminating information, but being the facilitator for dialogue and learning.

“I believe students learn best when they themselves contribute to the learning environment and hear from their peers,” he said. “Counseling and psychology are vastly different from some of the hard sciences. In counseling, experience is often the best teacher.”

Kelly said counseling is an art more than science.

“You either have the disposition and skill set or you don’t,” he said. “One has to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and good at instilling trust and maintaining that trust with complete strangers.

“It is an emotionally rewarding field if you enjoy working with people, but it is not one that typically provides a lucrative salary, although it can.”

Kelly said he has enjoyed teaching at Henderson because of the small class size and the collegial relationships he has enjoyed over the years.

“There is a ‘family’ atmosphere in our department that has made work something to look forward to,” he said. “I have never in 25 years ever dreaded coming to work.”

If he hadn’t pursued a career in counseling and education, Kelly said he might have been a pilot.

“I have to be honest and admit that I secretly always wanted to be a pilot, but when I was younger I had the false perception that the only way to become a pilot was to go through the Air Force Academy,” he said. “If you know my history for having accidents, you would probably be thankful that I never flew.”

When he was younger, Kelly participated in sports such as skiing.

 “Due to several accidents, I had to pursue more ‘tranquil endeavors,” he said. “I enjoy spending time in the water, and raising 12 children has kept me busy for some time. I also enjoy raising dogs and have had many Labradors and Dobermans over the years.

Counselor Education

Contact Info:

Degree and School:
Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education, Idaho State University

- Positive Psychology
- Technology in Counseling

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