Westmont Magazine A Book for All Seasons
Norm Wright ’59 was a busy Westmont student: he double majored in psychology and Christian education and double minored in literature and history. His challenging schedule set a pace he has followed throughout his life. Today he is a prolific author and speaker who teaches a seminary class, volunteers at his church, and still finds time for bass fishing.
After earning double master’s degrees (one in Christian education from Fuller Seminary and another in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University), Norm spent 35 years teaching at Talbot Theological Seminary and Biola University in California. As associate professor of psychology and associate professor of Christian education, he directed the graduate department of marriage, family and child counseling. Although he now devotes his time to writing, he continues to teach one class a year at Talbot.
A licensed marriage, family, and child therapist, he founded and directs Christian Marriage Enrichment. This organization provides training for pastors, offers services for lay people, and produces curricula. Since the 1970s, it has sponsored seminars across the country on marriage enrichment, parenting skills, and grief recovery.
For 30 years, Norm also maintained a private practice and directed a counseling center in Tustin, Calif. He closed the center four years ago and now sees patients once a week as a volunteer at Rolling Hills Covenant Church.
“One of my goals has been to provide professional counseling at a local church where people don’t have to pay,” he explains.
Norm is best known for his 67 books, which range from advice on family life to daily devotionals. Amazon.com lists 44 titles currently available. Some of the best selling volumes include “Communication: Key to Your Marriage,” “The Power of a Parent’s Words,” and “How to Bring Out the Best in Your Spouse.”
The variety is remarkable. One book helps couples write wedding vows and two others consider how dogs and cats enrich our lives. “Recovering from the Losses of Life” and “Trauma: the Pain that Stays” offer hope to those who have suffered.
The needs Norm perceives through his counseling and seminars inspire the topics of his books. “People are looking for help and need both information and ways to apply what they learn,” he notes. “Most couples go into marriage unprepared and share a universal need: discovering and accepting their partner’s differences. If they can learn this through a book, they can avoid counseling.”
With his wife, Joyce, he co-authored a book on the death of their son. “I’ll Love You Forever” tells the story of Matthew Wright, who was profoundly retarded and died at age 22. “He was the greatest blessing we ever experienced,” says Norm, who often ministers to parents with disabled or deceased children.
He has also collaborated with his daughter, Sheryl, who illustrated his newest book, “The Perfect Catch: Lessons for Life from a Bass Fisherman.” She is a nail artist and manicurist who has a line of nail-care products.
Raised in Hollywood Hills, Calif., Norm transferred to Westmont after a year at the University of Southern California.
Westmont offered something he values: a worldview presented from a Christian perspective. “One of my best memories of college is the experience of living and learning in a Christian community and atmosphere,” he recalls. To this day, he can still remember some of the chapel speakers.
Norm says Westmont greatly affected his life. “My interests in teaching, ministry and writing began in college,” he explains. “For the first time, I considered the possibility of a career in the academic field.”
Attending the college briefing conference at Forest Home as a junior, he sensed a call to the ministry. He became interested in writing through a sales job with the yearbook, and served as editor for two years.
Now that he works for himself, Norm is setting a different pace and learning to say no. It’s advice his readers may soon see in print.
Dawn Schmidt ’02 contributed to this article.