Peter Bernhardt is a psychotherapist and organizational consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. He works in an emerging field of psychology, which is based on a combination of systems thinking, depth psychology, mindfulness and somatic psychology.
Born in 1956, he grew up in many of the alternative social structures spontaneously emerging in the 1960s that aimed to explore personal freedom, creativity, humanism and social change. Raised in an artists community in Santa Barbara, he attended a free school in Los Angeles, and as a young man entered therapy and trained in the methods of Wilhem Reich, the father of somatic psychology. He experienced the life-affirming aspects of those communal experiments, but also the difficult shadow sides that emerged in communities and organizations that lacked adequate structure or an awareness of complex group dynamics.
His journey lead him to the work of Yvonne Agazarian who had been studying human group life since the 1950s. Agazarian had immersed herself in the problems of group life, and in the 1980s began to integrate a theory of living humans systems into her work. She combined a deep knowledge of individual psychology, group dynamic psychology and systems thinking, creating a new theory and method she calls Systems Centered Therapy (SCT). Peter has studied intensely with her and her organization since 1998, and continues to employ the practice in his work at the intersection of personal change and systemic change.
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