Rachel Bernstein is an educator and therapist. She is a credentialed teacher in regular
and special education, has a Masters Degree in Education, and is a licensed Marriage
and Family Therapist.
Starting in 1990, Rachel Bernstein began providing therapy for those hurt by cults, and
hurt by those who are abusively manipulative and dominant. She came onto the scene
unexpectedly, as one of her relatives became ensnared in a cult, and she felt the shock
waves that coursed through the entire family system. Seeing how little cult information
was out there at the time, how people didn’t understand what cults were and how they
operated, and that therapists were not equipped with the information they needed in
order to help those hurt by cults and cultic systems, she felt compelled to be a resource
to others. Her late father, Maynard Bernstein, took this issue on as human rights issue,
and became a leader in cult education and prevention.
Rachel’s work with former cult members and their families, and those who were stuck
in one-on-one cultic and controlling connections, began in Los Angeles at the former
Commission on Cults, at the Cult Resource Center started in her father’s memory, and
as a clinician at the former Cult Clinic where she provided counseling and ran a former
cult-member support group.
When Rachel moved to New York in 1994, she worked at the Cult Hotline and Clinic
in Manhattan, offered a support group for the family and friends of those in cults, and
developed a Speakers Bureau for those who had been affected by cults who wanted to
take their message out to the community.
Upon returning to Los Angeles in 2001, Rachel set up a private practice where she
works with general clients as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist. She also works
with cult-affected clients and families, and provides a support group for former cult
Rachel has made many TV appearances - on Larry King, on The National Geographic
Channel, on CNN, MSNBC and FOX, to name a few - has been interviewed by the Los
Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Jerusalem Report, and has had articles
published in on-line websites and LA Parent Magazine that teach about parenting and
about how to preserve and heal relationships. She has also worked with directors and
writers who created cult-related shows, movies and projects.
Rachel is very knowledgeable about human nature and individual psychology as well as
group psychology, systems, and the nature of relationships, both healthy and unhealthy.
She is someone who puts people at ease. She comes to this work with a desire to help,
to provide information, practical guidance and counseling, and with a great respect for
the difficulties people face when trying to regain their own freedom, or the freedom of
their loved one.
What Others Are Saying:
"Dear Ms. Bernstein: As a therapist working with former members of the Branch Davidians, you know only too well of the tragic abuse suffered by Koresh's victims. Helping others to recover from such traumatic experiences is admirable and I wish you all the best with your career."
- Ronald K. Noble, Under Secretary, Department of the Treasury, Washington D.C.
"Thank you for helping my family understand what I went through and what I needed from them. I wasn't ready to celebrate being out of the cult yet like they were, because I was feeling so bad from saying goodbye to my friends there, and you helped my family get that this was normal and OK."
"I was scared you were going to tell me I should have known better, or I should have picked up on the signs that this was a bad group, and instead I was pleasantly surprised! Talking with you was the first time I didn't feel judged in a long, long time."
"Hey! You missed your calling. Shoulda worked for the U.N. You met with all of us and managed not to take sides. We all made our points, and felt pretty safe being really honest. Can't wait for the next session. Feeling hopeful."
- Peter Santin
"Your voice is calming and your words are strengthening and reassuring. I've learned a lot, have clarity, and feel so much better. As a clergy person, it was hard for me to admit I had gotten caught up in something spiritually fraudulent, but you helped me not feel shame. So grateful to you and grateful to be free. Thank you, thank you."
- Rev. K.P.
"I'm sure you get this a lot, but I went to see other therapists to talk about my cult time and they didn't get it. It was cool to sit down with you and know you didn't have to be taught about what a cult is, or convinced that thought reform actually exists. We could start with my stuff instead - kind of like hitting the ground running."
- R. F.
"For the first time, I was talking to a person 'in charge' who wasn't telling me what to do, and instead you were helping me know the options, giving me the tools (as you say), and helping me make my own decisions. I know that's not monumental for people outside of cults, but for people like me, it's huge, it's really respectful, and empowering. Thank you."
- Cindy Canchesa
"I wish I had talked to you years ago. I really believe you could have helped me prevent years of hurt and emotional abuse."
- Tarryn Myles
"We couldn't have done it without you. We felt totally supported and like we were in good hands from the start."
- M.N. and B.N.
"Rachel, you're an amazing navigator. You're also a very smart and compassionate person..a wonderful combination! Thanks for the good start, I'm sure it's not the end, unfortunately, but I couldn't feel happier right now..and it's all because of you!"
"Thank you for all the smart and wise support you have given me this year. I can't tell you how much you have helped me."