Peter Reynolds

Some of us knew exactly who and what we wanted to be at a young age. Others dipped their toes into a variety of settings and occupations over the years to see where the gravitational pull took them. 

But if there are any takeaways from the past few disruption-laden years, it’s clear that there is no obvious, singular path to a sustained career.

The journey for Peter Reynolds, born and raised in Mill Valley, carved out a pair of paths that ultimately fueled his intellect to help both young people and adults in our community.

Reynolds started working at UC Santa Cruz in his 20s and did an outdoor leadership trip with NOLS, spanning from immersive wilderness expeditions to classroom-based wilderness medicine courses, learning by experience and via mentorship.

“That was when I really saw the power of interpersonal relationships and the power of connection,” Reynolds says. “I started working as a guide and leading other fellow college students and loved connecting with people. I felt like I had an ability to make people feel safe and connect.”

Reynolds continued down that path, working in wilderness therapy. “This is really powerful work,” he says. “It was working with the therapeutic model in the wilderness with young people who are really struggling, on the acute end. This sent me on this journey of wanting to be in deep connection.”

While Reynolds craved the outdoors, he also admits that he “got sick of living out of my truck” at times. “I loved seasonal work but wanted some consistency in life.” Reynolds’ choice was to either continue leading kids on trips or go into teaching. He chose the latter, working as a boarding school teacher at Verde Valley School in Sedona and running the outdoor program there. In his time in Sedona, he recognized that “I’m not the one who should be teaching your kid how to write an essay,” he says. “But I do know that I want to help young people. That passion drove me.” 

Peter Reynolds teaching in the mountains at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

He then embarked on obtaining his clinical doctorate, a nearly seven-year year journey.

“For me, it was, what do I value? I was drawn to helping young people manage the pressure put on teens, and this feeling that they have to do everything perfectly. Remember that we have the same hardware that our ancestors 2,000 years ago had,” he says. “It’s only in the last tiny sliver of time where we were going down to the creek and picking wood. Now it’s checking 400 emails, working 70-80 hour weeks just to pay rent or a mortgage.”

To Reynolds, the driving force behind a lot of anxiety is because none of this is normal. “There has never been a harder time to be a teenager,” he says. “It’s impossible, utter insanity. It’s the equivalent of telling an adult alcoholic that you want to have more balance and you want to get sober but you’re still putting those little bottles of booze in their pocket all day. You have to recognize your triggers.” 

“I have so much empathy,” Reynolds adds. “I can only imagine what it’s like to be a parent right now. It’s so incredibly challenging. What I see that I bring to the therapeutic space is my experience. I came into this field later in life, having waited until my 30s to jump into traditional psychology. I bring these sorts of different experiences and mindset, which gives me the ability to have a lot of compassion for folks. The key is to be fine with the journey.”

“At the end of the day, when I’m working with teenagers especially, the vast majority of gaining meaning and value in our life comes through the depth of meaningful relationships,” he adds. “I want to connect people to that.”

Reynolds was trained as a generalist and his focus spans a wide range for both young people and adults, including specializing in working with trauma, anxiety, and ADHD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Stress, and OCD, Depression, Loneliness, and Bipolar Disorder, Grief and Loss, Relationship Challenges, and much more. FULL LIST HERE.


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