Professional coaching and counseling are vital tools and necessary resources to ensure healthy mental and emotional wholeness and balance. Studies have shown that those that see a professional coach or counselor are more likely to achieve their desired success or necessary emotional healing in their lives. Yet so many black men refuse to acknowledge the importance of professional coaching or counseling. Prior to August 2007, I too had never heard of professional life or marriage coaching. I knew of professional counseling, but looked at counseling as a service for those who had serious mental challenges. I am so glad that I now have gained a new knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the need for both professional services. Here are 3 reasons African American men refuse to sit down with a professional coach or counselor:
1. There is a generational seed of mistrust in black men that was placed inside of us by our ancestors through their bonds of slavery. Slavery caused our ancestors not to trust “the white man” and in many cases not to trust their own brothers with their pain or their secrets. This generational mistrust is still alive today. For many black men subconsciously they associate counseling or professional coaching with “the white man”. This is one of the reasons many black men carry family secrets to their grave. They would rather die than to expose their secrets and their pain. To tell the truth about your feelings of anger, hatred, oppression, abuse, sadness, loneliness and discouragement was a sign of weakness and was not tolerated during slavery. For many black men to tell the truth, they had to be willing to lose their lives. Talking to a professional coach or counselor requires truth to be exposed. That seed of mistrust in many black men has produced fruits of secrets, sickness, sins and silence. These fruits must be destroyed at their root for complete healing and restoration to come to marriages and families.
2. Most black men never had a positive role model that encouraged them to receive counseling or coaching. In other words, there was never anyone of influence in the African American community to act as a voice for the need for counseling or professional coaching. In most cases, the preacher became the counselor in black communities. There were several voices to get an education, to get your own business, to get new homes and cars. But there was never a voice in the community motivating and encouraging black men to seek emotional healing. This is not to point the finger at anyone; however this is to acknowledge that we need positive influential black men inspiring and motivating others to receive counseling and coaching.
3. For years black men were never taught to value counseling or coaching. For many black men they were only taught to value what others can see. In other words, value material things such as your car, clothes, hair, yard, toys and gadgets. I agree, we should aspire to have nice things, but these nice things have more meaning and purpose when you are mentally and emotionally in a healthy place. What difference does it make if you have a nice home and cars and you are on the verge of divorce? What difference does it make if you have the largest flat screen television, if your son is failing in school? The health of your marriage should have more value than the health of your grass. There is something wrong when you spend more money for maintenance on your lawn than you do your relationship in your marriage and family.
I would like to encourage every black man to take a step of action in making emotional changes in his life by talking to a professional counselor or coach. No one looks at you as being weak because you go to the dentist for a checkup. The only men that see counseling or coaching as a sign of weakness are ignorant men. I have to admit for years I was one of those ignorant men. But counseling and coaching saved my marriage, which saved my life, which preserved the investment that both my wife and I invested into our children. I wonder how significantly would divorce, single moms raising their children, sons in prison, high school dropouts and teenage pregnancy rates decrease if fathers would make the investment into their future by talking with a professional counselor, life coach or marriage coach.