Peter Bernstein

About Dr. Bernstein

Peter Bernstein, PhD, DAPA, MFT, CMT, grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and the surrounding areas in the rougher parts of town. In his early twenties, he was a stockbroker in New York City and ran a construction company with his father, overseeing many subcontractors and employees. Peter’s determination to succeed in business and life led him to consider a career change. Basic training at Fort Ord in Monterey during the Viet Nam war era had given Peter a love for Northern California, so he decided to come west. The counter-cultural lifestyle of California was very different, however, from the tough environment Peter had known in New Jersey. He decided to start out in a setting somewhat similar to his background, working in juvenile treatment facilities in Santa Clara, San Jose, and San Francisco. His concern for his employees in New Jersey and his work with incarcerated youth led to the discovery of his calling – caring for people in need.

Members of the faculty at San Jose State became aware of Peter’s work with juvenile offenders, and encouraged him to begin his professional training. A college drop-out, Peter had almost impossible requirements placed on him to complete his bachelor’s degree. He responded with the optimism and determination which are a hallmark of his career. He completed his bachelor’s, went on to earn his master’s degree in social psychology, and began clinical training as a psychotherapist. Work at drug and alcohol clinics, hospitals, and other kinds of treatment programs left Peter disappointed with their long-term results. In spite of extensive training and skills, and the best intentions of good professionals, the therapeutic techniques used didn’t seem to produce lasting change in patients’ lives. He was also disturbed by the growing emphasis on therapeutic medications. Although at times it was clear that the use of psychotropic drugs could be very beneficial, long-term reliance on medication is often counterproductive to resolving and healing emotional wounds. Peter wanted to find another approach that could work, without primary reliance on drugs, and he was going to find it. He wanted to explore the connection between the mind and the body in healing.

Peter has always been a very physical and competitive person. High school wrestling, weightlifting, cutting horse competitions, and race car driving have been and are passions in his life. His desire to provide real healing for his patients led him to expand the scope of his clinical training to include several somatic, or body-centered methods of psychotherapeutic treatment. Ultimately, Peter earned his doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis on a combined cognitive and body-centered approach. He completed post-doctoral work in his field as well. During this time, Peter obtained his license as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist and started his own private practice. For over 45 years, Peter has helped individuals, couples, families, and children from offices in Larkspur, San Francisco, Novato, and Petaluma, where he is now located.

Throughout his career, Peter has sought out the most effective techniques and protocols to create emotional and physical healing. The culmination of his quest for knowledge and experience – which includes aspects of his initial clinical training and doctoral studies, physical release physical therapy, team treatment, substance abuse treatment, family therapies, leadership skills, nutrition and supplementation, and the nature and comprehensive treatment of trauma – is the evolution of his new signature modality, Bernstein Healing Protocols (BHP), and Bernstein Healing Protocols/Physical Release (BHP/MR).

Continual exploration and ongoing innovation have marked every stage of Peter’s life and career, and will continue to do so. He looks forward to the challenges and rewards ahead for himself and his patients, as the Bernstein Institute for Trauma Treatment grows and reaches out to people in need.

Professional Associations

Dr. Peter Bernstein is a member of the American Psychotherapy Association, earning Diplomate status for his post-doctoral work. He is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an associate clinical member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. Peter is also a member of the American Academy of Pain Management.

Additional Professional Training

The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals have certified Dr. Peter Bernstein as a Body Therapist. He has completed over 350 hours of training in Physical Release Physical Therapy with John Barnes’ Physical Release Seminars.