About Bonnie

Having been in practice for many years, and feeling very privileged to get to do work that touches me deeply, I have found my passion is in helping adults feel great and couples have relationships that are satisfying, something I believe we all want.

My training is extensive, such that I can honestly call myself an expert in some areas. To call oneself an expert in psychology, you need education + supervision + experience. Receiving a doctorate in counseling from Lehigh University in 1978 and then taking extensive continuing education in the areas of work which were of greatest interest to me, I was personally trained by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., Peter Pearson, Ph.D., John Gottman, Ph.D., Neil Jacobsen, Ph.D., David Schnarch, Ph.D. and others.

For twenty years, I taught other mental health professionals at the masters level, Ph.D. level and post-doctoral therapists how to work with individuals and couples in the graduate programs of Santa Clara University and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Being strongly motivated to offer additional ways to help the people with whom I work, over recent years, I have offered groups for couples or for women, workshops for couples, those about to be married, about sex, fun/play/joy and now offer two others: SoulCollage and Guided Autobiography. Please see the details about these workshops under Services offered. I hope you can join me at one of these venues.

As a result of the training I have had and the work I have done, I was asked with Sandra Borrelli-Kerner, MFT, to write for the professional literature, a chapter in a book edited by Randolph Charlton, M.D. and Irv Yalom, M.D., Treating sexual disorders, “Couple therapy of sexual disorders.”

I have also written, Bountiful Women: Large Women’s Secrets for Living the Life They Desire, published in 2000, a celebratory book of psychological and practical strategies large women [defined as wearing size 14 and above] have found or developed to handle challenging situations. This book was awarded the prestigious Independent Publishers Press Award as the best book of the year on women’s issues.


Introduction to podcast

The Examined Life with Guided Autobiography | Dr. Bonnie Bernell
SuperPsyched with Dr. Adam Dorsay

“Each of us is unique; there has never been anyone exactly like us and there never will be again. One of the greatest risks we face in life is living day-to-day without any reflection on who we are, what we’ve done, where we’ve been, and what really matters to us. Enter Guided Autobiography, a brilliant system of capturing who you are. Guided Autobiography was developed by USC Professor James Birren and is described as a system that captures our lives through writing, sharing, and preserving life stories and experiences. Today’s guest, Dr. Bonnie Bernell, is a psychologist, author, professor, and she is 2019’s Recipient of the Distinguished Contribution to Psychology Award from the California Psychological Association. Bonnie is also a seasoned Guided Autobiography facilitator. Through this approach, she has midwived stories and unexpected and unclaimed parts of people’s lives that might have gone undiscovered without this powerful tool. Bonnie’s forthcoming book, co-written with Dr. Cheryl Svensson, is called Treasures that Matter, and it uses the Guided Autobiography protocol and is addressed to the psychologically curious person around aging. On a personal note, and as you will learn in this interview, Bonnie has been a dear friend and one of my most important mentors. You will be learning from someone I consider a true master. So, listen in as Bonnie and I have a lively and user-friendly conversation about Guided Autobiography, and I expect it will enrich your lives.”

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/superpsyched-with-dr-adam-dorsay/id1512883587#episodeGuid=62a48236-6815-4a60-8132-99bf22adb4db

About Brodie

Many therapists invite their dog to join them in the office to enhance everyone’s comfort level — physically and emotionally. Meet Brodie, a border terrier, born in 2010. He will sleep on the floor or in your lap, depending on what you prefer. Just in case it matters, he has hair, not fur, and does not shed. If you prefer that he stay separate from you, just say the word.

In a Wall Street Journal article, “The Doctor’s Dog Will See You Now”, December 20, 2010, Melinda Beck said, “A small but growing number of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other therapists are bringing their dogs to work in their private practices, where they help calm patients down, cheer them up and offer a happy distraction with a wagging tail . . . . Research shows that a few minutes of stroking a pet dog decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, in both the human and the dog. It also increases prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that govern nurturing and security, as well as serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that boost mood.”

Brodie and I look forward to seeing you.