Here’s how Columbus State professor got counseling gig with R&B star

FILE - This Aug. 15, 2014 photo shows singer K. Michelle posing for a photo in Los Angeles.
FILE - This Aug. 15, 2014 photo shows singer K. Michelle posing for a photo in Los Angeles. Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

The Ledger-Enquirer reported last month that Columbus State University assistant professor of counselor education Ryan Day was featured on the VH1 reality TV show “K. Michelle: My Life” as he counseled the R&B star. But we didn’t reach him before deadline, so we didn’t report how he got that gig and the reaction he received. Now, we have and we will.

A VH1 producer called Day in October after reading impressive online reviews about his work.

“I was surprised but more so honored,” Day said. “It was an opportunity to showcase my craft, not only my private practice but also Columbus State.”

In addition to teaching counseling and psychology to CSU students pursuing a master’s degree, Day is the CEO and founder of the Healing Center for Change in Atlanta. You might have heard of that town about 100 miles northeast of Columbus. Anyway, it’s where K. Michelle is based.

“I have been contacted a few times to do a counseling session on TV from other media sources, but I usually passed them up,” Day said. “However, they were very persistent and extremely professional, so I felt more comfortable to work with them.”

Still, he added, “They make you sign a lot of documents, man.”

Day is a licensed professional counselor, a certified school counselor and a certified expert trauma professional. He specializes in trauma therapy and relationship issues, fitting the type of help K. Michelle sought.

“I was advised that she wanted to discuss with a therapist a traumatic experience that she was still dealing with,” Day said. “After the first 5-7 minutes of the session, she felt even more comfortable to open up about a lot more than her trauma and started to deal with this experience and other issues that were currently causing major stress in her life.”

The VH1 film crew was in his Atlanta office for about three hours, Day said. He was paid for the use of his space, he said, but the one-hour counseling session was gratis.

Since the episode aired, he said, “at least a good 50” prospective clients contacted him and mentioned seeing him on the show or in a video clip on social media. Also gratifying, Day said, was the reaction from his CSU students.

“They were excited,” he said. “It made them feel good. It showed that they go to a real good institution.”

Day has a post-master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from CSU and a doctorate in counselor education and supervision from Auburn University, where he established a career development center that helps athletes get jobs.

“I have worked with a number of celebrities over the nearly 10 years I've been practicing, but this was the first that was allowed to be videotaped,” he said. “Honestly, I am truly shocked at all the exposure. I am more so honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve. I love what I do and do what I love. Counseling is not only my passion but my true purpose on Earth, and teaching and developing future counselor educators is my gift to our society.”

Showing a celebrity in a counseling session can have a powerfully positive impact, Day suggested, as it demystifies and destigmatizes the closed-door therapy.

“I hope to increase overall mental health awareness, that if celebrities can seek and receive counseling services, then so can everyone else,” he said. “We all need help at some point in our life, and counseling is the best way to get the help you need and overcome the obstacles standing in your way.”

Day is in his second year at CSU after teaching at the University of West Georgia.

“I also hope to bring positive exposure to our counseling training programs here at CSU,” he said. “I am a product of our training program by being a former student. I believe that I received world-class training from Dr. (Michael) Baltimore, Dr. (Richard) Long and other faculty members who trained me here at CSU, and now to work alongside of these guys is truly my honor. We have some of the best students and future counselors who can go out and make an immediate positive impact in our communities and schools.”