Like many people, my life as a child was filled with challenges that affected
what I thought  about myself and how I related to the world around me. As I grew,
fears and woundings from early experience limited my ability to participate in my
own life and my relationships suffered. What I know now, that I didn't know then, is that growing is a natural process and that deficits in early experience restrict and distort that process. 
In my pain and confusion I moved into destructive behaviors as a way of coping with my distress. Most of my young adulthood was characterized by increasingly serious errors in judgment. These mistakes built on each other to a point at which I saw no way back and could discern no way forward; my life itself seemed like a mistake. At this black point those who loved me feared for my life and long term incarceration seemed a real possibility.
I sought help only because I saw no other choice. The decision to enter treatment in 1985  was the beginning of a long road of change and the start of my true education. I caught glimpses of hope and peace for the first time.
After working in residential care for eight years and obtaining my Master's Degree in Counseling from California State University at Northridge I felt a need for change. My life, at that point, was built on a solid foundation of recovery and I wanted to reach out from there and see what I could touch. I had the extraordinary blessing of living as a work/scholar for a year at Esalen. There, surrounded by the intoxicating beauty of Big Sur, I studied Gestalt, bodywork, movement and a  number of other subjects with truly gifted teachers from all over the world.
My time in treatment and working in residential care was a time of building a life, a container, a character that could hold me in the world; my time at Esalen was a glorious explosion of the soul. I realized there how starved I was for, and how terrified I was of, intimacy of all kinds. It was there my heart found form. The beauty of that land, and that time, lives in me.
After Esalen I worked for a year in a locked down inpatient psychiatric unit, a year and a half in a residential treatment program for severely disturbed adolescents, and several years doing case management for a health care company. Since 2002 I have been in private practice.
My dissertation was on the subject of desire; following desire in my early life nearly destroyed me--following desire now is my salvation. Exploring this dichotomy is my area of emphasis. Doing so has required a broad study of research on sexuality, addiction, ecstatic experience, happiness, affect theory, and the Hindu discipline of Tantra.
I completed my Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Meridian University (formerly Institute of Imaginal Studies) in 2009. The Institute approached psychology as it is literally translated; the "logos," word or reason, of the "psyche" or soul. Through a blending of somatic disciplines, attachment theory, Jungian theory, ritual, Freudian theory, and other new and ancient disciplines, I came to privilege embodied knowledge while still recognizing the need for cognitive understanding.
The knowledge and insight I found in my education is equalled and probably surpassed by the growth and revelation that has resulted from many years of marriage. Maintaining vital, loving connection while facing my deepest fears and exposing layers of shame, has been a tremendous challenge. Intimate relationship is the place where the wounds of the past manifest in the present. By fighting toward honesty and integrity I have grown and find myself much closer to true adulthood. Likewise, being a father has humbled me and teaches me daily how much I have yet to learn about being in relationship.
I am deeply grateful for where I find myself today. The distance between where I was and  where I am is both great and well-earned. Walking with others through their process of becoming feels to me like what I am suppose to be doing. It is a great blessing and a huge relief to have a  solid place and a clear purpose in the world.

 "Out beyond ideas of right and ideas of wrong there is a field.

               I'll meet you there."

--Jalalodin Rumi


Formal Education

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Meridian University (formerly the Institute of Imaginal Studies), 2009.

Masters of Science in Counseling from California State University at Northridge, 1993.

Bachelor of Arts in Literature/Creative Writing from the University of California at Santa Cruz, 1981.

State of California Licences

M.F.T. (Marriage & Family Therapist) # 34937

CADC (Certified alcohol & Drug Counselor) # 085367

Memberships and Associations

American Psychological Association (APA)

California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC)

American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA)

Other Education / Training / Experience

One year residential training in addiction treatment at the Impact Drug and Alcohol Treatment Ctr, Pasadena, 1986.

Four years of residential training/experience as case manager and case manager supervisor at Impact Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. 1986-90.

Three years training/experience as Director of Family Counseling, including individual, couple, family and multi-family group meetings at Impact Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, 1990-1993.

One year as a work/scholar at Esalen Institute training in bodywork, Gestalt and various disciplines, Big Sur, 1994.

One year of training/experience working as a social worker in Psychiatric Unit of Glendale Adventist Hospital, 1995.

One year of training/experience in residential dual diagnosis treatment at River Community in Azusa, 1996.

A year and six months of residential training/experience working with severely disturbed adolescents at Family Life Center, Petaluma, 1997.

Three years training/experience as case manager for the professional diversion programs of the California Dental Board and the California Board of Pharmacy, 1998-2001.

Nine years experience as group facilitator for the Lawyers Assistance Program of the California State Bar, 2002-2011.
AGPA Group Therapist Training

Systemic Family Intervention with Systemic Intervention Associates/Wayne Raiter


Tim Willison, Ph.D., M.F.T., C.A.D.C.
                                                                                                     Tim Willison 
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of the imagination."  --John Keats
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