by Jaclyn Youhana Garver
Once upon a time, Aaron Lane never considered a career in counseling. For Lane, it was all about sports. He played football at Purdue University and was a free agent for the Miami Dolphins in 2008. The team released him after a rookie mini-camp, and that’s, he says when his identity crisis began.
“I was all about sports,” says Lane, of Fort Wayne. “I was sports. Once that ended for me, it was like, ‘Oh, no. What now?’”
He spent seven years as a trainer for Athletes with Purpose, where he realized a passion for leadership development.
Today, Lane is co-founder of Courageous Healing and Courageous Living, two companies aimed at helping different sectors of Fort Wayne. He founded Courageous Healing with his wife, Janell, who had always wanted to have her own counseling company. During the coronavirus pandemic, counselors primarily meet with clients on-line, though construction is underway for a center in southeast Fort Wayne, where the company can help a sector of the population that hasn’t always been open to counseling services; there’s a stigma around mental health in Black and brown communities, but Lane is seeing that stigma dim.
At the macro level, part of the change is because of increased awareness and a change in messaging and imagery; the field is showing different populations that they, too, can benefit from mental health services. Locally, Lane says, Courageous Healing helps the stigma because its therapists are Black.
“When you’re able to see a counseling center that has all therapists that look like you, that helps,” he says. “The response from our client population is they want the services. It used to be, individuals didn’t want access.”
But now, those communities are more trusting, and they’re embracing the process.
“There’s a great demand from individuals who’d never thought about or been to counseling,” Lane says. “Now they’re trusting it.”
Courageous Living, which Lane also founded with his wife, provides counseling and equity and inclusion training for companies.
On top of running two businesses, Lane serves as Parkview Health’s lead community partner development coordinator. He and his wife started the Community Parkview Development Center five years ago, and it provides tools, resources and opportunities for personal growth and professional development. Clients can attend programming at the center, or they can hire the center to provide training and programming for clients’ specific populations.
If it weren’t hard enough to have, essentially, three full-time jobs, Lane—like everyone else—has been operating under a trio of pandemics: There’s the coronavirus. There’s the racial and civil unrest sparked by the murder of George Floyd. And, from the combination of those two emergencies, there’s the mental health pandemic. Compounded by a loss of jobs and schools closing, the pandemics have led to increased anxiety and stress for millions across the country. “From the outside in, it looks crazy. ‘How do you do all of this? Why do you do all of this?’” he says. “It’s how God has set us up as a couple to serve. It’