Paul J. Lesnik, LCSW, TEP is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Expressive Arts Therapist and a Board Certified Trainer, Educator and Practitioner of Psychodrama. Paul has devoted much of his career to exploring the lives of those often marginalized in society (individuals with disabilities, the LGBT and recovery communities) through arts experiences.
With a background in dance-movement and visual art therapy, Paul directed Accessible Arts, a not-for-profit agency dedicated to enhancing the lives of children with disabilities through the arts for 6 years. Accessible Arts proved to be a turning point, as the intersection of the arts and psychotherapy proved to be the impetus to create a life marked by service to others and a belief that the arts can heal. Under Paul’s direction, Accessible Arts won the 1998 Kansas Governor’s Arts Award. On leaving Kansas City, Paul was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the Kansas State Board of Education for making a difference in the lives of Kansas children.
In 1997, Paul experienced Psychodrama and what became the opportunity to incorporate his wealth of experience in the arts therapies in a method that created real and lasting change. Paul fuses the arts, psychodrama, sandplay, hypnotherapy and traditional helping methods to explore the intersection of the arts and psychotherapy with clients.
Paul came to Florida and Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center of Palm Beach County in 2000, working with LGBT youth and their families. In 2004 Paul became Compass’ first in-house provider of mental health services through Ryan White funding. In this role, Paul provided psychotherapeutic sessions to HIV positive men and women and their families and members of the LGBT community. Paul also presented workshops for youth, mental health professionals and teachers and supervised social work and counseling interns from three universities. Paul was the 2008 ASGPP Neil Passariello Workshop Presenter, an honor for significant achievement working with HIV+ men and women, at the annual conference. Paul served as an Executive Council member of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama for 2 years. Paul became a Certified Practitioner of Psychodrama in 2009, a Fellow of the ASGPP in 2010 and a Trainer in 2014.
In 2007, Paul started a private practice in Lake Worth, Florida. In conjunction with this practice Paul created expressive therapies curriculum for drug and alcohol treatment facilities, directing programming and supervising clinical staff at one for 7 years. In 2008, Paul began training colleagues and master’s level students in the infusion of the expressive therapies with psychodrama in conjunction with Lin Considine, LMHC, TEP. He continues to travel to Florida to co-lead this training group, and is an Associate of the Action Institute of California, where he conducts workshops and trainings in action methods and the expressive arts.
He is a frequent presenter on the Arts and Social Work/Therapy as adjunct faculty at universities and in other venues. Paul won Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year in 2010 in Florida Atlantic University’s School of Social Work.
Paul relocated to San Diego, CA in April of 2017. Paul’s passion remains the intersection of the arts and therapies. In recent years, Paul has amassed training hours working toward certification as a Sandplay Therapist, a new passion for healing. In working in Sandplay, Paul found SoulCollage®, and was awed by the power of image as they moved between Sand tray and SoulCollage®, deepening in meaning. This inter-relationship of art forms is at the heart of Paul’s belief system, and prompting his journey to SoulCollage® facilitation training in 2017. He was registered as a Sandtray Therapist through the Institute for Playful Healing in July, 2019.
Paul is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in both California and Florida. Paul established a private practice in San Diego in 2017, as well as a organizational change management practice, PhDelta, along with Philippe Honore, MBA. He is an Associate of the Action Institute of California, founded by Jean Campbell, LCSW, TEP, where he is part of a team of Action trainers who conduct training groups and workshops throughout the country. He also creates curricula for agencies and not-for-profits interested in utilizing the arts in meeting client or employee goals and objectives.
Psychodrama is a power modality that can be best explained as a "show me" in addition to a "tell me" methodology that links head and heart. Paul is the only certified Trainer of Psychodrama in San Diego County. He offers training for mental health professionals, supervision and ongoing client groups.
The Expressive Therapies offer an opportunity to access unconscious information and bring information into the therapeutic space for transformation. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Hypnotherapy are an adjunct that accelerates the ability to change behavior s and heal from trauma.