Return to Campus Plan for Fall 2020

Messiah University is in session this fall with flexible in-person and remote learning options, health and safety protocols and student care and support.


Senior instructor of counseling Michael Jones helps train Messiah students in remote therapy

Senior instructor of counseling Michael Jones helps train Messiah students in remote therapy

A man stands smiling in front of a tree.


How do you visit your therapist when you’re in quarantine? Telemental health is a cutting-edge form of therapy that has moved to the forefront as thousands practice social distancing. In this Q-and-A, Michael Jones, senior instructor of counseling, discusses how he’s helping Messiah’s counseling students receive important training to provide remote therapy now and long after the pandemic is gone.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been teaching in the counseling program at Messiah for the past five-and-a-half years. One of my areas of expertise is the use of technology in counseling. I have been practicing telemental health counseling since 2010. I began training others to do telemental health counseling back in 2011. In that time period, I have trained approximately 5000 people in this methodology.


How are you helping students during this pandemic?

During this crisis, I have been spending my time educating counseling students all over the U.S. on how to ethically provide telemental health counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been done through webinars, podcasts, Youtube videos and other online training. One thing I have done to help Messiah College specifically is to let our counseling students and who are currently in their field experience enroll in my six-hour Telemental Health Counseling 101 course for free. This ensures that they will get adequate training in the area of telemental health and also alleviates them from having to purchase a course on their own. I know that many people are going through a financial strain at this time. I also want our students to be able to continue their education with as few hurdles as possible.


Please explain for the layperson what telemental health is.

The use of telemental health is cutting edge because the majority of the therapists in our country were mainly utilizing traditional face to face counseling. Due to social distancing, doing counseling the traditional way is not an option. The counseling field is now in a situation that all therapists are now practicing with the use of telemental health.  This will allow their clients to continue to receive their much-needed therapy but from the convenience of their own home.


The work I am doing in this area was just an extension of the training that was already being provided by our counseling staff.  We have two classes where we teach our students about the basics of telemental health counseling. The course I offer to the students is just a bit more advanced and fills in any gaps of knowledge they may have had.


 How does a session work?

In a video session, the client and counselor log into a HIPAA-secure video meeting using software such as Zoom, VSee or Mytrucircle. Both participants hear and see each other during the video session. The therapists make sure they are in a private environment during the session, and they encourage clients to do the same.  Both parties are encouraged to wear headphones so that no outside party will be able to hear their session.


What makes Messiah’s program unique?

I believe Messiah's training is better because our students get exposed to telemental health training in two separate on ground classes and then again in an online training module. They also get this knowledge from a subject matter expert on this topic. Many schools do not even teach about telemental health but we provide an extensive amount of training in this area to make sure our students are ready to practice this exciting modality.


To learn more, visit