Martha and Bernie Schein: Counselors of the heart

By Lanier Laney

Both Martha and Bernie Schein are well-known in their fields for the remarkable success they have had working with children and adults. In Martha’s case, helping them release their present and past trauma, and in Bernie’s, helping them to unlock their creative abilities.  Amazingly, they arrived at the same crossroad in therapy by coming from two totally different trainings.
Martha, a Greenville, N.C., native,  got a PhD. from the Fielding Graduate Institute in Clinical

Bernie and Martha Schein.

Psychology and has done individual and couples therapy since 1989. Most recently, she worked at Parris Island, where she treated solders with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for two and a half years.
In talking about her technique, Martha says, “In working with trauma victims in Atlanta and Parris Island, I put together a group of approaches that allow the client to let go of past bad experiences in a remarkable easy manner.  Because so many themes in our adult lives are based on templates we set in place as children, I also like to work on releasing the intensity of feelings that childhood experiences can leave. This approach works much better, I believe, than learning to cope with symptoms.  When the early patterns are released, the adult manifestations of these experiences also are gone. Basically, I believe in clearing past and current trauma. These processes can often be effective in a few sessions, with deeper issues taking a few months. What is fascinating is watching how quickly people, particularly children, can let go of their anger and sadness using these same approaches.”
Bernie, a Beaufort native, got his Masters in Education from Harvard and worked as a school principal in South Carolina and Mississippi before he became a renowned teacher of writing and literature and social studies at Atlanta’s most prestigious private school. He wrote a book about the kids in his classroom, how he taught them, and how they learned. It’s called “If Holden Caulfield Were In My Classroom,” and he’s been on the national lecture circuit and doing book signings around the country since the book’s publication.
Says Bernie, “I hated school growing up, the boredom of it, the lack of true passion and emotion. So I wanted to create for kids the classroom they never had, one inspiring and personal, to bring out  their creativity, their passion, their intelligence. From there, I began working with teachers and parents and just adults interested in being ‘brought out’ creatively, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.  For over 40 years, I’ve marveled at how much wisdom is inside each of us, all of us, kids and adults, and it’s dying to come out, to be expressed. It’s still amazing to me. Yet formal education ignores it.”
Bernie does workshops for kids, adults and whole families as a writing teacher or a counselor on other issues that clients can be “locked” on. Bernie believes most creative problems originate with wrong decisions made in childhood around traumatic events. And that these psychic wounds can be released and then the creativity will flow. Says Bernie, “That’s where the stories are. Childhood is where you mine them, if you’re serious, that’s where the tears and laughter originate, and where the stories come full circle.”
Bernie uses his best childhood friend growing up, Pat Conroy, as an example. “The greatness of his writing is directly proportionate to the greatness of his suffering, which is directly proportionate to his need to express it and to understand it,” he said.
Bernie is descended from several distinguished Jewish families. His grandfather Samuel Schein came to Beaufort in 1896 and married Esther Mark. Beaufort had a large Russian immigrant community at the time, which Mayor Billy Keyserling’s grandmother was also a part of.
In the 1920’s, Bernie’s father opened Schein’s Grocery store on the corner of Prince and Bladen streets. It sat on the border between the African-American Northwest Quadrant neighborhood to the north and the all white bluff community to the south.
Says Bernie, “From that grocery store I grew up in have come a million stories, all of which I think are uniquely surprising, and which I spend much of my time speaking and writing about.”
Bernie has just completed a wonderful new novel that includes the best of his stories about growing up in Beaufort. It’s called “Famous All Over Town” and will be available next year.
Bernie met Martha, his wife of 41 years, at a graduate school party at USC.  Says Bernie with a smile, “I was already in love with myself, Martha fell in love with me, so it was evident early on our feelings were mutual.”
They raised two children. Lara Alexander is a teacher who is married and has two kids. Maggie Schein, who lives in Beaufort, is a philosopher and ethicist and freelance writer with a PhD. She works as an educational consultant and also as a counselor. Her novel, “Lost Cantos of The Oroborous Caves,” is due out this year.
Martha and Bernie decided to move back to Beaufort from Atlanta in 2006.  They came back, says Martha, “because it was Bernie’s hometown and he couldn’t wait to get back. Now, I can’t decide on any vacations because it is so beautiful here. I also find the most amazing collection of people here — their interests, attitudes and life perspectives.”
Adds Bernie, “I hated not being here. This is home, and it’s so enchantingly lovely and I love seeing the people with whom I grew up and I think the new people add a lot too.”
As far as the future is concerned, Bernie says he “intends to continue writing about and telling Beaufort stories in whatever venue avails itself to me.” (In June he’ll be speaking at the Alzheimer’s Fundraiser). He also plans to keep teaching individuals and groups on the side. Martha now has her own successful private practice counseling both adults and children in Port Royal.
Together, they are bringing a lot of good healing back to Beaufort as “counselors of the heart.”


Martha: Office address is 930 9th St., Port Royal. Call 843-379-0644 (office) or 843-441-2967 (cell). Hours by appointment.
Bernie: Call 843-379-2772 or email bernie1@hargay.com. Home office: 503 Waight St., Beaufort. Visit www.bernieschein.com

‘BERNIE’S BEST’ FOR SALE: Bernie’s hobby is gardening and he has an amazing green thumb. This summer and fall  he will offer up for sale for the first time “Bernie’s Best,” the organic heirloom tomatoes he’s famous for growing, at his new tomato stand in front of his house. It’s in the driveway of 503 Waight Street, off Ribaut Road and North Street west of downtown.  And also at the stand at Griffin’s Market on Carteret Street.

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