James Madison University

Michele Kielty, Ph.D.

School Counseling Program Coordinator

PHOTO: Michele Kielty
  • Office: Johnston Hall, Room 106
  • Phone: 540-568-2553
  • Email: kieltyml@jmu.edu
  • Mailing Address:
    MSC 7401
    70 Alumnae Dr.
    Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807


  • Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • M. Ed. Wake Forest University
  • B.A. James Madison University


  • Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Licensed School Counselor
  • I became interested in spirituality and counseling after having worked with clients in a variety of settings such as schools, a research hospital, and a women’s center. Many clients talked freely about their beliefs and practices. The lack of counselor training in this area became an opportunity for me to learn and then teach about the competent integration of diverse spiritual and religious values and beliefs in the field.
  • I have continued to work with children and adolescents throughout my career. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the school community again by serving as a Professor-In-Residence at Lucy Addison Middle School located in Roanoke, VA, the community in which I grew up.
  • I have received training on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and I am recently learning more about how to bring mindfulness into K-12 school settings.
  • I received the 2009 Mosier Fellowship at James Madison University, the 2009 Meritorious Service Award from ASERVIC, the 2008 Wake Forest University Counseling Program Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2007 Biggs-Pine Award for contribution to the Counseling & Values professional journal, and the 2005 Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the College of Integrated Science and Technology.

Scholarly Interests/Research Topics

  • My research interests include counseling and: mindfulness, diverse expressions of spirituality, child well-being, and integrative wellness.
  • Selected scholarship includes:
    • Bordeau, W. C., Briggs, M. K., Staton, A. R., & Wasik, S. Z. (2009) Feminism Lives On: Incorporating Contemporary Feminism into Counseling Practices with Families and Youth. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education & Development, 47, 42-56.
    • Briggs, M. K. & Akos, P., Czyszczon, G., & Eldridge, A. (2011) Assessing and promoting spiritual wellness as a protective factor in secondary schools. Counseling and Values, 55 171-184.
    • Briggs, M. K. & Banner, A. (2011). Feminist spirituality in Cashwell, C., &Young, S.  (Eds.).  Spiritual and Religious Values in Counseling: A Guide to Competent Practice. Alexandria, VA:  ACA.   
    • Briggs, M. K., & Dixon, A. L. (in presss). Women’s Spirituality across the Lifespan: Implications for Counseling, Counseling and Values.
    • Briggs, M. K., Staton, A. R., & Gilligan, T. D (2009). The Girls’ Leadership Experience Camp: A parallel process of leadership skill development for school counselors-in-training. Professional School Counseling, 13, 125-134.
    • Gilligan, T. D., Briggs, M. K., Staton, A. R., & Barron, K. E. (2010). A collaborative approach to evaluating well-being in the middle school setting. Journal of School Counseling, 8(8). Retrieved from http://www.jsc.montana.edu/articles/v8n8.pdf
    • Gladding, S. T. & Briggs, M. K. (2009). Spirituality in Counseling. Counseling Training DVD published by Microtraining: Allen Ivey Productions.

Helping Children On and Off the Clock

Michele Kielty received her Bachelor of Arts degree at James Madison University in Public Relations. Her interests, however, were aligned less with her major and more with one of her minors, Psychology. During her undergraduate career, Michele participated in a work-study called the Nurturing Program that allowed her to research and observe family counseling. She realized that while she did want to work with people and to help them, she did not want to do so by trying to manipulate their behavior or consumer habits. Rather, she enjoyed working hands on with people to discover how their lives have developed and how they could optimize their experiences. As a result, she decided to get her Master of Education degree in counseling at Wake Forest University and, afterwards, her doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  After graduating with her Ph.D., Michele attained her position with the James Madison University Department of Graduate Psychology.

In the James Madison University Department of Graduate Psychology, Michele is the co-coordinator of the School Counseling Program. She also teaches classes in the masters and doctoral programs, including courses such as school counseling internship, counselor education and supervision, career counseling, counseling theories, and group counseling. She also works with Professors In Residence (PIR), a program sponsored by the JMU President's Office on Diversity, helping to encourage students at a local middle school to consider post high-school education as an option, especially with students who would be first-generation college students. In addition, she works as a counselor, including as a counselor to children.

Michele is also trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which she incorporates into her counseling work and her own life. Additionally, she is trained in using mindfulness with children. She uses this training with children individually, in groups, and even through classroom workshops. She said that when she first started teaching mindfulness to children, she was "blown away by the kids' responsiveness to the mindfulness activities." After being taught mindfulness, many of the children would return and say that they had used it to fall asleep, during a conflict with a sibling, or in various different ways to help relieve stress. She had worked with children for a long time and was visibly thrilled to report that they were so eager to incorporate mindfulness into their lives beyond the classroom.

Michele has worked with children for much of her life, from babysitting as a young girl to raising her two sons, who are now four and twelve years old. She has also worked as a school counselor, which she found incredibly enriching as she was able to help children in a variety of ways. 

In addition to working with children, Michele is very interested in expressions of spirituality in counseling. She found throughout her years as a counselor that many of her clients, including children and, very often, cancer patients, brought up spirituality and their beliefs or questioned different beliefs. Unfortunately, Michele felt that she, along with many other counselors, had not been trained to deal with issues of spirituality in counseling, so she studied spirituality and depression and became the president of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC), which is a national organization. She also occasionally teaches a course on addressing spirituality and diverse beliefs in counseling, so that future counselors can be prepared to confront such issues. 

Additionally, Michele has won several awards throughout her career, including the 2009 Mosier fellowship at JMU, the 2009 Meritorious Service Award from ASERVIC, the 2008 Wake Forest University Counseling Program Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2007 Biggs-Pine Award for contribution to the Counseling and Values professional journal, and the 2005 Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the College of Integrated Science and Technology. When asked if any one of these awards meant the most to her, she humbly replied that she appreciated each and every one because of the support they showed and because she has a strong, meaningful connection to everything she does and, thereby, to each of the awards. Throughout her career, Michele has pursued her passions and worked to improve the field of counseling.