Peter M. Bernstein, PhD, FAPA, MFT

Free PDF for New Trauma Healers

For this episode, as we lead up to Christmas week and as I take a break from publishing new episodes, I wanted to reach back into The Trauma Therapist Podcast vaults.

One of the main themes that has quickly evolved for me in interviewing these amazing individuals has been the importance and significance of understanding what it means to both become and be a trauma therapist.

What has become clear to me is how crucial it is for us to develop and hone not simply our knowledge of trauma-informed interventions, but of ourselves: our authenticity, our presence, and our compassion.

I wanted to bring back episode 91, Peter M. Bernstein, because I think Peter articulated so powerfully how his own life and experiences both lead up to and so inspiringly informed the amazing work he does.

If you’re new to the podcast and haven’t yet heard this episode, do yourself a favor.


Peter M. Bernstein, PhD, FAPA, MFT is founder and director of the Bernstein Institute for Trauma Treatment in Petaluma, CA. In private practice since 1974, Peter holds a doctorate in clinical psychology as a California licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Dr. Bernstein specializes in the field of emotional and physical trauma and is the author of Trauma: Healing the Hidden Epidemic. A veteran of the Vietnam War era, Peter completed advanced infantry training at Fort Ord on the Monterey peninsula.

The Bernstein Institute offers individual, couples, and group therapy and uses Reichian-Myofascial Release Therapy (RMFR), a unique and proprietary modality developed by Dr. Bernstein for healing trauma, PTS, and other behavioral health issues.

The Quote

Adversity introduces a man or women to him or herself
Heard at a Navy SEAL graduation

What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?

Peter shares the incredible story of his life and how that led him to where he is today. You must listen to this.

A Crucial Early Mistake

Peter says that when he began doing psychotherapy he felt he was too prideful, too arrogant and felt that what he knew was better than what anyone else knew. It took me years to learn this was wrong.

Peter’s Why

Peter’s life story is his reason for why he does this work.

Peter’s advice

  • You have to be for real. Seek help for your own traumas and put a great deal of emphasis on this part of training.
  • Understand and realize that you’re no different from your patients.
  • Getting into trauma treatment is tough. Think hard about it because this work is hard and confusing.
  • Unless you’re willing to break through your own attitudes, you’re going to be in trouble in a very short time.

Peter’s go-to books

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