“I may act kindly, correctly, justly toward someone, and yet withhold the giving of myself, which is love.”
- C.S. Lewis
A successful relationship is not the result of the formula of being nice, right, and fair. Instead, a successful relationship is the balance and blend of giving ourself and receiving another’s self. Sounds simple —which it is, but it is not easy. In order to give of yourself and to receive another, you must have a “self.” The joining of these two selves is an act of intimacy — of chosen vulnerability. When vulnerability is chosen, emotions are stirred and must be recognized in order to be used in a way that is loving, connective, and whole.
At LifePractical, we focus not on formulas, but on wholeness. We achieve this by attaining a balance and blend of three areas:
- Gain Identity — filling out more of who you are designed to be
- Develop Intimacy — understanding what it means and takes to connect with another;
- Increase Emotional Abilities — learning the language of emotion which facilitates connection.
Who am I? It is one of the oldest questions in existence, and possibly the most used. Everyone has asked this question, and not just once —maybe not every day; maybe not every month, nor perhaps every year—but frequently. We may not have it answered for a while, but then, out of nowhere, it reappears. Does it indicate a problem? Perhaps, but not necessarily. It could indicate the time to grow deeper — to move further down the road. After all, the journey of identity is lifelong.
At LifePractical, we discover your answers to the Who am I? question. We discover the various parts, then balance and blend them into a cohesive unit. Who you are is the greatest asset that you bring to the planet. Who you are generates what you do. Who you are shapes how you love, enliven, encourage, and confront.
Every great musician understands his or her instrument in order to play it well. At LifePractical, our goal is for you to understand your full identity, so that you can use it well and to the utmost.
A friend once defined intimacy as “into me you see.” Intimacy is an identity process that profoundly involves another person. We choose vulnerability with that person. And that can feel very risky.
At LifePractical, we recognize the risk, and work to heighten the reward. Intimacy is an act of balancing, of blending, of sharing. By sharing your identities, you each realize you are not alone, or behind, or abandoned. You are where you are, and another person knows this, and you are without shame. You get to be in the presence of another and be seen without shame or embarrassment or hesitation or doubt or covering.
At LifePractical, you learn in intimacy to leave the lights on and to keep your eyes open for the other to see you. You are safe and it is ok. In fact, it is very, very good.
You may hear it said frequently, To search your feelings; or It’s ok, just let it out. When this happens, inevitably, the positive emotions become elusive, and the negative ones come roaring back with a vengeance. It all feels like a teeter totter that will not stop rocking. We end up falsely interpreting our identities and our intimacies as confusing or dark and forbidden and unredeemable.
Our emotional system is complex, but it is learnable. Emotions can be translated and understood. ALL emotions are meant to be used. You CAN HAVE a full and balanced emotional experience; all you need is to learn the language.
At LifePractical, we teach you the language of feelings, and how to use all of your emotions, not merely to harness or manage them. We teach you to use them in a balanced way. Emotions are to be heard, understood, and utilized. As you learn to be informed by your emotions, you experience a whole new level of your identity of self and intimacy with another.
Paul Johnson, M.ED., LMFT, LPC, NCC
Paul is the son of the original thirteen colonies. Born in Atlanta, GA, he has experienced life up and down the east coast and the southeast. He is husband to Cathy, father to three sons and a daughter, and lives in western Shelby County.
Paul is an avid reader of history and fiction, as well as a lover of film and fine cooking. Paul was licensed as a minister in 1982, and spent seventeen years in professional ministry, working as an actor, writer, director, and creative programming consultant, performing in thousands of churches and conferences. He has co-written a book of short stories; co-produced five videos; and co-published six collections of dramatic scripts. From 2008 to 2014, he was a regular contributor to the Birmingham periodical, 280 Living.
Paul received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication and Theatre, with a Minor in Religion, from Samford University in Birmingham in 1987. He received his Master of Education degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Counseling from the University of Montevallo, with honors, in 2008.
Paul is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Alabama Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Alabama Counseling Association, the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists, the National Board of Certified Counselors, the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, Phi Kappa Phi (academic leadership fraternity).
Paul began his counseling experience with the I Found Hope Counseling Center in the Inverness area of Birmingham, and then with Context Counseling in the Southside area of downtown Birmingham. He then joined the Samaritan Counseling Center in December of 2008, serving as therapist as well as director of Shelby County Operations and director of Education. From 2009 to 2012, in addition to his work as a counselor and therapist, Paul served Samaritan Birmingham as Executive Director and Administrator. In the summer of 2013, Paul joined the team of Innercare (formerly Means Family Counseling) and opened LifePractical Counseling.
Currently, Paul is a fully Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a fully Licensed Professional Counselor, a Nationally Certified Counselor and a certified Christian Sex Therapist. He is also a certified PREPARE/ENRICH marriage counselor. He enjoys working with individuals and couples in the areas of identity and intimacy, but also works with families dealing with child development and parenting issues, as well as family dynamics. He further deals with the issues of grief, trauma, and loss; codependency; personality development, assessment and growth; life crises and transitions, spiritual concerns, sexual issues, and personal design and career counseling. Paul works with churches and corporations in the areas of strategic planning, facilitating group development of core values, vision and mission statements, and key strategies for company growth.