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Who We Are

Peter Cole, LCSW has been a Gestalt therapist in Northern California for over 20 years. He has offices in Berkeley and Sacramento. He works with individuals, couples and groups. He has trained extensively in Gestalt and psychodynamic therapies. He has written numerous articles in the field of Gestalt Therapy and has co-written two books on the psychology of money with Daisy Reese. Peter and Daisy are the co-authors of New Directions in Gestalt Group Therapy (2017).  Peter served as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UC Davis School of Medicine for 30 years (now retired).  Peter has served on the board of the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy and as Co-Convener of the AAGT biennial international conference at Asilomar in 2016.  Peter is also the director of Insight Financial Group, a financial planning firm that provides holistic financial planning services.

Daisy Reese, LCSW has a psychotherapy practice in Berkeley and Sacramento. She holds degrees from Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas. For the past 30+ years she has worked with individuals, couples and groups to help clients develop increased self-awareness, self-support and skills in creating and sustaining intimate relationships.

She is a Certified Group Psychotherapist and past president of the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society.  Along with Peter, she has facilitated the Process/Learning group for the Group Therapy Training Program at the Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley.  Since 1992, she has been training and mentoring psychotherapists both regionally and internationally.

Daisy is a long-time student of Sufism and has a particular interest in the sacred aspect of “soul-work” with clients and trainees.

Peter and Daisy founded the Sierra Institute for Contemporary Gestalt Therapy in 1991.  They train and consult with therapists in Northern California, across the U.S. and internationally. Peter and Daisy are married, have five adult children and six grandchildren in their blended family.

Karen Pernet LCSW

Karen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years experience working with children, families and individuals, supervising and training. She is passionate about using play therapy and sandtray therapy as a healing modality with people of all ages as well as for supervising and training therapists. Karen is certified as a Play Therapy Supervisor, a Filial Therapist (Parent-Child Relationship Enhancement Therapy) , a Gestalt therapist and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She has extensive training in trauma and attachment therapies. She has published print articles on Filial Therapy and presented and trained throughout the US, in Canada and in Ecuador on play therapy. She and a colleague developed and ran the Filial Parenting Program geared to inner city families in Philadelphia and awarded the 2009 Outstanding Contributions to Filial Therapy Practice and Training Award for their work. Karen is a co-founder of Growth through Play Therapy trainers and a provider for the Association of Play Therapy. Karen has a private practice in Oakland where she conducts intensive, small group trainings in Child Centered Play Therapy, Filial Therapy and sandtray therapy. Racism and diversity are personally and professionally important to her and she is currently developing a sandtray model to address culture in ways that bypass defensiveness . She does admit to a serious toy and sandtray addiction and is often found searching for additional items at yard sales in Oakland and Berkeley


Shila Vardell

Shila Vardell is the office manager at SICGT. She is available during business hours at 916-444-1786. Shila recently completed her B.A. in Psychology at Chico State. She currently attends the University of Phoenix where she is getting her Master’s in Business Administration.