Peter Bernhardt

I currently have a private practice in both Albany, California (directly connected to North Berkeley), and in the San Francisco Mission District, where I see individuals and couples, and lead groups. I am a member of the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society. I also work with organizations (Kaiser, Tenderloin Health), have taught group dynamics at CIIS in San Francisco, and I lead workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area, Denmark and Holland, Norway, & Switzerland.

Throughout my professional journey, moving from somatic psychology to developmental, attachment and trauma psychology, to psychodynamic psychology, to group and organizational psychology, and living and working in different cultures, my most exciting intellectual and personal journey has come from studying the Systems-Centered theory and methods developed by Yvonne Agazarian. Through the last 10 years of studying her work, I have come not just to see our social world as a living system, but have come to live systemically as well. Living systemically means having a felt-sense of oneself as a part of something larger, recognizing that every input I make — every gesture, every word, has an impact on the relationship systems that I belong to.

Like you, I want a better world as well as personal development. Seeing through a systems lens helps us keep an eye on multiple levels of the overlapping systems we live in: the individual and the couple, the organization, the community and the world system that we are increasingly aware of. Systems thinking highlights our interdependence, our impact on each other. At the same time it heightens personal choice and personal responsibility.

Call or email me for a free introductory consult

or come to one of my free group introductions in San Francisco or Albany.

Phone: 510-684-0658 


Background and Training

Somatic and Individual Psychology: My background in somatic psychology, has given me an appreciation of the body as a source of deep self knowledge and as a basis for change. My training began studying Radix, a system developed by a direct student of Wilhelm Reich, Charles Kelly. I worked as a Radix trainer in Europe from 1980 to 83. I then studied Bodynamic Analysis, a developmentally based body psychotherapy from Denmark, founded by Lisbeth Marcher. The Bodynamic system offers an understanding of the intelligence found in the muscles and organs of the body, and in particular of the unfolding of psychomotor development in childhood and the impact of developmental and shock trauma on the body.

I was a founding member of the US Bodynamic Institute, and wrote several articles published in Body, Breath, & Consciousness, A Somatics Anthology (2004) edited by Ian Macnaughton. I am Past President of US Association of Body Psychotherapy, 1996-7, and was Director of the Somatic Counseling Center and core faculty at California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco from 1994 to 97. I also studied with the somatic psychologists David Boadella (England), Lillimoor Johnson (Norway), Peter Levine (USA) and Dick Olney (USA). In addition I have trainings in psychodynamic psychologies, NLP, Control Mastery and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT).

Group and Organizational Psychology: My experience with the challenges of leadership and building organizations lead to an intensive study of the psychology of group life, beginning with Sam Kaner and David Sibbit in meeting facilitation, and then at Stanford Business School Leadership training (an NTL-based model). When I discovered the Systems-Centered theory and method of group development, something I was searching for crystallized into a coherent map. The Systems-Centered model gives much more than a map of group life: it gives tools to group members, individuals and couples so that they can travel a path through the defense system to the core self in an empowered way. Its focus on the here and now and on emotional intelligence helps people learn new skills for a life’s journey.

Published works

Body, Breath and Consciousness– A Somatcs Anthology, Edited by Ian Mcnaughton, 2004

Individuation, Mutual Connection and the Body’s Resources An interview with Lisbeth Marcher.

The Art of Followwing Structure: Exploring the Roots of the Bodynamic System Interview with Lisbeth Marcher part II

Waking the Body Ego, Part I: Core Concepts and Principles with Marianne Bentzen and Joel Isaacs

Waking the Body Ego part II: Psychomotor Development and Character Structure with Marianne Bentzen and Joel Isaacs