Timothy WeberPsychology Faculty
Timothy Weber went to the Lutheran seminary because that’s just what people in his family did – on both sides.
But Timothy had no intention of becoming a pastor. He wanted to study theology, and then he wanted to be a psychologist.
For Timothy, theology and philosophy both ask the big questions: What is the essence of life? What makes us tick? How should we live?
These big questions are crucial, but they can also be dangerously abstract. But psychology – as the study of what real people are feeling right now, and why – stays grounded. Combine the three, and you’ve got something.
“The last thing you should do when asking these big important questions is get too far away from the essence of our humanity and our grounded experience,” Timothy says. “If theology is about soul, and philosophy is about the infinite, then psychology is about the here and now. So I thought psychology would be a great way for me to ground my theology and philosophy, and that theology and philosophy would keep my psychology from getting too simplistic.”
After graduating from Condorcia Seminary in Exile, he went on to get his PhD in clinical psychology – writing his dissertation on the use of humor in psychotherapy – and became especially interested in marriage and family practice, especially family of origin connections. He went on to study with Lyman Wynne at the University of Rochester Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.
His passion for working with families led him to make a snap decision that would change his life – and his extended family’s – forever.
“I’d been following the work of James Framo, who was known for his intergenerational therapy, for years. Then I read a newsletter that said he was going to do a workshop on family therapy in Portland, Oregon – and that’s where most of my family of origin resides,” Weber recalls. “So right then I called Jim and asked him “Are you interested in having a demonstration family for your workshop?’”
Framo said yes, and so Timothy spent the next few months trying to convince his family to sit in front of an amphitheater of 50 therapists for four days.
“It took some doing,” he remembers, laughing. “I had to pay for some air fare, but eventually everybody gathered. And it was an incredibly powerful experience.”
So powerful that it changed the course of Timothy’s research: he has since gone on to be a leader in Family of Origin therapy, where families come together for intensive group work. His experience with Framo has become the subject of a book the two wrote together, Coming Home Again: A Family of Origin Consultation.
“When we meet with families for intensive experiences, the power of that kind of conversation is more intensive than anything I experience in conventional clinical practice,” Timothy says.
Timothy now runs a successful counseling practice in Bellvue, Washington, and serves as an organizational consultant and executive coach. In his work he inspires others to combine the existential with the realities of daily life to make better decisions. But what inspires him is his work teaching at LIOS.
“LIOS is an intensive, community based, interactional, experiential, learning, melting pot,” Timothy says. “It’s absolutely unique.”
As a conventionally trained academician, it was also challenging. “I didn’t have much training in the LIOS model, other than my academic background, when I was invited to teach here. I was kind of thrown into it, and it shocked me initially: it was a major learning curve. But it was a great experience. Experiencing LIOS has really helped me grow personally, as an academician – and it’s really helped my clinical practice a lot. The essence of the clinical experience is the living encounter, and that lies at the heart of LIOS.”
It’s the academic model he recommends to anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of others – and themselves.
“I’ve been in a lot of academic experiences. I’ve taught at the University of California, the University of Colorado, the University of Rochester, at private schools … and they all have their strengths and challenges,” Timothy says. “But LIOS has been really unique amongst all the schools I’ve studied or taught at. It more than any other place has challenged me, and it challenges anybody in that community to dig into the depths of our human experience and to see that we ourselves, in relationship with others, are really the crucible for change. No other place has been part of a journey with that kind of intensity.”