Drawing upon the mantras, “One person can make a difference” and “Help the underdog,” Norma Royale Wilder excelled within the fields of language and psychology for several decades prior to her retirement in 2012. At the age of 20, she entered the field of community development by joining the Peace Corps, and then spent two years in Guatemala from 1963 to 1965. Her group worked with the already established United States agency called CARE. Later, she conducted a significant voluntary project in Costa Rica for El Salvadoran and Nicaraguan refugees who were seeking asylum from wars in Central America by building low-income houses and bringing two tons of clothes, bedding, small appliances and hardback suitcases to Costa Rica for the refugees.
Earlier in life, Ms. Wilder developed a strong interest in language at the age of 13, whereupon she particularly enjoyed studying the Spanish language. Studying Spanish throughout her high school and collegiate years, she received a Master of Arts in Spanish and South American literature at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1970. Following the acquisition of her first master’s degree, she spent 25 years as an instructor of English and Spanish languages across the world in seven different countries. Adding to being an educator, Ms. Wilder decided to delve into psychology. She obtained a Master of Arts in depth psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute in 1992.
Upon receiving her second master’s degree, Ms. Wilder commenced her psychology career in Santa Barbara, first at several nonprofit agencies, including five years at CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation), and then 15 years for the Santa Barbara County Department of Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health Services. She worked almost exclusively as a bilingual psychotherapist with gangs, domestic violence survivors and the perpetrators in the court system.
In her post-retirement years, Ms. Wilder has focused her efforts on nonfiction writing. In 2020, she published her very first book, “The Longer I Live, the Wilder It Gets: A Memoir of Adventure,” under her birth name Norma Royale Wilder. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com. The book details her life story, including her formative experiences with child abuse. She emphasizes that her experiences growing up manifested into an interest in psychology to heal her inner child and, from that point forward, she pledged to dedicate her life to helping others. Notably, her memoir will be the first of three books in a trilogy, and the second and third books will be on interpersonal relationships and psychology. She is also writing a book that will explain how bilingual psychotherapy works and will serve as a guide for prospective mental health counselors and/or anyone interested in the topic.