Wendy Watson Nelson: Mormon Marriage and Family Therapist

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Wendy Watson Nelson Mormon Marriage and Family Therapist

Wendy Watson Nelson was a marriage and family therapist, author, and speaker. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nelson was born in 1950 in Raymond, Alberta, Canada, to Leonard David and Laura McLean Watson. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1975 from Brigham Young University and a PhD in 1984 from the University of Calgary in family therapy and gerontology. She was a professor of marriage and family therapy in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. She retired in May 2006 at the time of her marriage to then-apostle Russell M. Nelson. She was also a nurse and psychologist with more than twenty-five years as a therapist. She chaired the BYU Women’s Conference in 1999 and 2000.

She wrote several books, including Personal Purity and Intimacy, Searching Diligently in the Light of Christ, and Change: It’s Always a Possibility! Her 2013 children’s book The Not Even Once Club garnered criticism and a petition to recall it. Critics complained that the book “promotes a kind of Mormon elitism and endorses giving candy as a reward for righteous living — and withholding it and group membership for children who make a mistake.”[1] Deseret Book issued a statement defending the book: “‘The Not Even Once Club’ was created to help LDS parents and their children discuss the importance of making and keeping promises.” People were encouraged “to read the short story in its entirety and the ‘Guide for Parents and Children’ in the back of the book, especially the emphasis on the atonement of Jesus Christ.”

Nelson's husband was set apart as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on January 14, 2018.