Tanya Cole-Lesnick, psychotherapist share the transformative power of, group therapy, and why there is, strength in numbers. She delves into the profound impact of, group therapy, in fostering personal growth and transformation. In this post Tanya shares how the power of collective support and shared experiences as individuals come together to navigate life’s challenges, heal emotional wounds, and help others embark on a journey of self discovery. This podcast offers a compelling exploration of the transformative dynamics found within the context of, group therapy.
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Tanya Cole Lesnick has been a psychotherapist which is a licensed clinical social worker and coach since 1995. She received her master’s degree in social work from New York University after, group therapy, changed her life. She has extensive experience in outpatient hospital mental health, private practice and Wellness from those experiences. Over the years she has identified her most important focus helping people to live lives that light them up.
She does this by helping clients to access and honor their truth, change habits that do not serve them and to heal faulty narratives so they are living in alignment inside and out. Her work result revolves around intimate groups as she shares the inner words and being human together in a safe space is what she finds to be the most powerful way to transform Our Lives.
Myrna: In your bio Tanya you said that, group therapy, changed your life can you share that experience with us because I’m curious.
Tanya: I actually started my career out as a graphic designer and in those early days, I was very much longing for a, long-term love relationship, and I was struggling to find a partner and relationships were not lasting. I didn’t really understand what was in the way for me. The idea of therapy came to me but I felt a lot of stigma associated with therapy.
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Introduction to group therapy
I also was very dismissive of my issues and thinking well that was aren’t legitimate enough for me to explore therapy. But as time went on and my longing continued and the pattern wasn’t changing, I decided I didn’t really care if I was the right candidate or not I wanted something to change. I started therapy with this wonderful woman named Bonnie and right away that experience was very healing.
I felt like I could tell her what was going on. I did not feel judged by her, it felt emotionally safe to share my story and so that part was great. But very early on she suggested that I add, group therapy, and the thought of it was very terrifying, because I was much more vulnerable with her than I really ever had been. So the idea of sharing some of that stuff with people who at that time were strangers to me scared me.
But I was building some trust in Bonnie and she thought it was going to be helpful and I was sort of intrigued, so I said yes and started that process. It was really a combination of the two being in a group situation and then processing some of what came up for me separately with Bonnie and then going back to the group, where I was able to grow in lots of ways.
Number one, the reason why I thought maybe I wasn’t able to have a long-term love relationship might have been because I wasn’t lovable that was what my own brain was explaining to me. Maybe I was unlovable, maybe that was what the problem was, so by going into this group therapy, I was able to get to know people that I really admired and learn about their insecurities that were so similar to my insecurities.
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Group therapy helped me peel all all the false messaging
I was able to kind of peel away some of those messages that were just not true and got more comfortable in my own skin and developed some confidence became more embodied, because I think while I was trying to meet somebody. I kept curating the version of myself that I was going to show up at and trying to decide what somebody else was going to like rather than showing up fully as myself, because that didn’t feel so safe.
And so all of that stuff happened. I did meet a man who became my husband pretty early on and he and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We’ve got two grown amazing daughters so that life that I loved or happened and fairly quickly, but the part that I didn’t anticipate was how much I was going to connect to myself, how meaningful that Journey was going to be for me and how much more satisfied with my life I became.
As I started to have a better relationship with myself, that’s when I decided to go back to school and become a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist and coach and have been dedicating my life to helping other people have transformations of their own.
Myrna: Wow that is a very good story and it’s almost original because you’re right you know I’ve not heard anybody go into therapy because they’re looking for a life partner, it’s usually going into therapy because of some kind of trauma or addiction or something you know whether it’s, group therapy, or not. So it’s amazing that you did and so which is what makes us the spin on this conversation so unique. I absolutely love that and I have some circle backs.
One is that what I know, group therapy, is what I’ve seen in the movies and what use the reason like you know they have the when you go into therapy and you say you know my name is Myrna and I’m an addict or whatever the reason that they do that there is because everybody there is an addict and everybody there can identify and you can share your space.
And I and I think they do that for the same reason that you said there’s commonality, you feel that you’re not alone. But what I don’t understand you know maybe we can unpack a little bit so you felt that you weren’t able to have a permanent relationship because you’re unlovable and when you went into therapy you were able to realize that message wasn’t true.
So if I’m thinking of me, I’m putting myself, if I think that I’m not lovable and I go into therapy and I see someone else that thinks that she’s not lovable how is that going to change me? How is that going to transform me?
How group therapy transforms your thinking
Tanya: These relationships happen over time, this particular group was every week, so week to week we might have different layers to very similar conversations. So if I’m watching somebody else who is talking about feeling unlovable and I can see how untrue it is, it opens up a little bit of possibility in my own mind that could be the case for me too.
If I can see how lovable she is and she can’t see it for herself, maybe it’s not that I’m unlovable, It’s just I’m struggling to see it for myself which are very different things. So that was part of it. I think sharing more of my honest self with people and having people respond to that in such positive ways, I think helped me.
Also see that my inner world wasn’t so off-putting. I thought it was, and so I would take a little more risk a little more risk as the relationships within, group therapy, grew. Everybody would share a little bit more and there was a very like in real time opening up that either happened or didn’t. Some, group sessions, we maybe stayed a little bit more on the surface, other group sessions maybe we went a little bit deeper depending on sort of what got brought into the room and how we all responded to it; but the cumulative impact was really touching on these very deep places.
Group therapy allowed me to touch deep places
In these deep places that was not typically happening in my life outside of group or or most of us we don’t typically go into such a deep place.
As I practiced in, group therapy, It felt safer for me to start doing some of that outside in the world. This allowed me to meet my husband very quickly because I started to show up differently.
Myrna: Why you think people fear, group therapy? I think you probably kind of hit the nail on the head earlier that people don’t like to tell how they’re really feeling, even in, group therapy, in a relationship. They always want to out on a mask. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons. So why do you think people fear, group therapy?
Tanya: I think it’s the vulnerability piece. I think it’s what we are working on when we go into either a therapy or a, group therapy, situation ,we want to improve some things that aren’t going well for us. So to be honest about what’s not going well for us, I think does feel very vulnerable and there’s real fear about how we’re going to be received if people hear how badly we’re struggling with something.
Myrna: In your experience what helps clients move forward towards the changes they long for and what keeps them stuck?
Getting unstuck in group therapy
The transformation starts when we recognize what we’re each bringing into adulthood, what are our, limiting beliefs. First off getting curious and checking in and recognizing where you’ve got messaging that’s not serving you and then starting to make some changes which can bring up some emotions. When we start to challenge some of this old beliefs, we start, getting unstuck.
Myrna: How do they go from being clear about what they want in life and starting, group therapy, or even regular therapy?
Tanya: The first step I think starting to recognize the pain points can be really helpful, so it can be something like when are you agreeing to things that you’re dreading that you don’t want to be doing that you notice like emotions coming up that are really negative connected to that. Or you are getting depleted, feeling resentful because you’ve said yes to things you don’t want to be doing.
Our energy actually gets maximized when we’re living in alignment and we’re not stuck in our heads weighing everything out assessing things, ruminating about things.
Myrna: Let’s say that you go into, group therapy, and they’re saying Tanya do you have something to share, and you’re sitting there and you’re thinking of all the things that goes on in your mind. The messages in your mind. And you tell yourself, I am not going to share nothing because they are going to think badly of me. When do you decide to take the risk and share with the group?
Taking risks of sharing in group therapy
Tanya: We take a risk like that in therapeutic environments all the time so for me it’s not unusual to see it, but what I see in groups and I run little Retreats as well. I see people taking those kinds of emotional risks with each other where they’ll share something they feel maybe some shame about and feel uncomfortable to share, when I see people do that, I’m always sort of celebrating them.
The connections that happen when people feel permission to share is enormous. Taking that chance and giving themselves permission is great. Someone else listening then says to themselves if they can do it, then I can do it too. Those relationships in the groups that get formed are a special kind of communication that happens from this inner place that’s so beautiful to watch.
Myrna: I absolutely absolutely agree, because a lot of times when people are depressed they don’t want to talk, they don’t want to talk to anybody they hold it all in and therapy is talking, which is why talk therapy has become so popular. In, group therapy, what you’re doing is seeing that there’s other people that feel the same way and then you don’t feel so badly about yourself.
Tell us about your work with groups and how you help your clients and how listeners can connect with you and be a part of your work and your group.
Activate group coaching program
Tanya: I run a coaching group program called Activate where people get a combination of group sessions with a few individual sessions; so that people can focus on identifying what it is that they want to work on and bring that to group. It’s a six-month commitment and then sort of Midway through we assess what’s shifting, where are they and continuing to adjust goals along the way; so people continue to clear whatever’s in the way for them energetically and start to focus on building the lives that they really want to be living.
I do that group coaching program and do some small Retreats as well, because all my work is virtual except for The Retreat, so that’s just a more intensive weekend when people can really check in and do some of the work that we do in group, but a little bit more intensively. I have one coming in New York in October so not you know a number of months away we just did one in April which was amazing and so anybody that’s interested in working with me in any way.
I offer a free Discovery session that somebody can schedule themselves right on my website and it’s 20 minutes to chat about whatever they might be thinking. My website is www.clearenergeticclutter.com
my social media handles are Tanyathetherapist
I think the thing that I often say at the very end is just to remind people number one to be kind to yourself This is a tricky process and I know that people have a tendency to get frustrated with themselves especially if you start to recognize patterns you’re not thrilled about that you want to change it takes some time and energy to change some of these patterns so to be kind to yourself and allow yourself some quiet and some space to get in the habit of connecting to yourself. Those are the two things that I hope people really hold on to in this process.
That’s good advice To know yourself is to grow yourself so you got to know yourself. I got an aha moment almost from my first question why was, group therapy, different from regular therapy and you answered that right away and that was my aha moment and. I get it, I understand it so yes it was a good conversation. Thank you Tanya for being on the show and for illuminating our our awareness of, group therapy.