SEARCY, Ark. – Renewed Vision Counseling Services founder Michael Jones is using his background in ministry and counseling to provide a place where Searcy and White County Residents of all races and backgrounds can receive tools and resources to better their mental health.
Before opening Renewed Vision Counseling Services, Michael Jones spent a decade working in ministry in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Ohio. Jones enjoyed the work but felt like he was limited in the number of people he was affecting. After a conversation with a fellow minister, Jones decided to further his education and pursue a degree in counseling.
“One of the ministers I was working with at that time, I asked him, I said, ‘what was one thing you wish you could go back and do again if you could?’,” said Jones. “He said, ‘I wish I had more background experience in counseling.’ There only so much he felt like he could do in a church setting counseling-wise.”
After three years at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, Michael graduated with a degree in Clinical Pastoral Counseling. Michael then spent the next few years juggling both ministry and counseling, before shifting his focus primarily to counseling.
“In 2008, I felt like it was time for a change of roles,” said Jones. “So I just went 100% in doing counseling and teaching and kind of walked away from the ministry aspect of it.”
Two years later, Harding University was in search of an African American Bible teacher. Jones, now having experience with Pastoral Counseling, was presented with an opportunity to teach family counseling courses. Jones gladly accepted this position due to the honesty of the position.
“Bruce McLarty and Monte Cox were very upfront with the intentions of that role,” said Jones. “So for me, their honesty about seeking a black bible teacher, made me more interested to do it.”
After two years of teaching, Jones saw an opportunity to offer counseling services to the marginalized groups of Searcy, especially residents of color.
“I didn’t see any other therapist that looked like me here,” said Jones, “ So I wanted to start my own practice to provide services for anyone, but especially for people of color, so if they wanted someone that looked like them they had that option.”
Jones opened Renewed Vision Counseling Services in 2012. The business now has three therapists, including Jones, who welcome different clients with open arms and ears ready to listen.
“I make sure that we are giving good services to people,” said Jones. “We try to work with as many people as we possibly can here. We’ve done pro bono services, we do whatever we can [because] we want to make sure people get their mental health needs taken care of.”
Jones says he loves running a business where his staff and his clients know they matter and strives to create an environment where individuals are encouraged to be themselves.
“I feel like that’s a big part of what we do here,” said Jones. “When someone comes in, there is a no-judgment zone and we’re going to work with you, so whatever minority group you fall into, we’re here to support you in that. We don’t discriminate on who we see. I just want to make sure when people come in they know they’re going to be taken care of.”
Along with owning his own practice, Jones is the Senior Instructor of Counseling at Messiah College, is teaching online counseling classes, and is active in the Arkansas Counseling Association. Jones is also involved in the community through his position on the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce and by his sponsorship of various community events.
“I just feel like it’s important to be out there in front of people to let them know who I am,” said Jones. “Not just who I am, but to see themselves represented through me.”
Although COVID-19 has added a new dynamic to his sessions, Jones continues to find creative ways to connect and serve his clients.
“One thing I offer is video-based counseling not only to my clients in White County but also to anyone searching for an African American counselor in Arkansas,” said Jones, “ I just want to make sure anyone and everyone has a place to find help.”