For Students, Faculty, and Staff: MyU One Stop


Ph.D., Family Studies, University of Connecticut
M.A., Child Development and Family Relations, University of Connecticut
M.A., Theology, St. Paul’s College
B.A., Philosophy, St. Paul’s College

Honors & Awards

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Family Therapy Academy 

2008 Don Bloch Award for Contribution to Collaborative Family Health Care

2005 University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award

1997 Award of Merit for Outstanding Service to Agriculture and Related Sciences and Arts, Gamma Sigma Delta, Honor Society of Agriculture, Minnesota Chapter, April

1994 Bellagio Study Center Residency Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy, April 15 - May 14

1992 Significant Contribution to the Field of Marriage and Family Therapy Award, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

1990 MacFarland Award for Creative Teaching, College of Human Ecology, University of Minnesota

1982 & 1983 Teacher of the Year Award, Department of Family Practice, University of Iowa

Teaching & Learning

FSOS 8101 Family Stress and Coping

FSOS 8039 Clinical Interventions for Couples


Research & Discovery

Marital First Responders - The goal of this project is to develop assessment tools and evaluate the effectiveness of Marital First Responders training. The purpose of Marital First Responders is to increase the confidence and effectiveness of “natural confidants” (people whom others open up to) in supporting the relationships of people in their social network. The project comes from two sources: 1) research on confiding relationships about problems in marriages and other long term committed relationships, which shows that people turn first to friends, family members, and coworkers with relationship problems, long before they turn to professionals; and 2) the Australian Mental Health First Aid Program which has scaled at a national level the training of lay people to recognize and intervene supportively when someone in their life has a mental health crisis. In addition to evaluating the basic one day Marital First Responders training, collaborators on the project are developing and evaluating adaptions of the program for the African American and LGBT communities.

Discernment Counseling - The goal of this project is to evaluate the process and effectiveness of discernment counseling, a clinical approach to working with “mixed agenda” couples where one partner is leaning out of the relationship (considering divorce and ambivalent about couples therapy) and the other is leaning in (wants to preserve the relationship and try couples therapy). Along with Steve Harris, I am evaluating the training of therapists to use the discernment counseling protocol, along with the outcomes of discernment counseling and predictors of those outcomes.

Effects of Family Meals - I have a long standing interest in the role of family rituals in the well-being of children and adults. I have conducted national survey research on the how the frequency and quality of family dinners is associated with a range of outcomes. Several studies have been published, and there is additional data that could be mined by a graduate student interested in this area for doctoral research.

Outreach & Engagement

Minnesota Couples on the Brink, Project Director

The Families and Democracy Project - Citizen Health Care


  1. Doherty, W. J.,  Harris, S. M. (2017)/  Helping couples on the brink of divorce: Discernment counseling for troubled relationships. Washington, DC: American Psychological Asscociation.

  2. Doherty, W. J., Harris, S. M., & Didericksen, K. W. (2016). A typology of attitudes toward proceeding with divorce among parents in the divorce process. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56, 1–11.

  3. Doherty, W. J., Harris, S. M., & Wilde, J. L. (2016) Discernment counseling for “mixed-agenda” couples. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42, 246-255.

  4. Lind Seal, K., Doherty, W. J., & Harris, S. M. (2016). Confiding about problems in marriage and long-term committed relationships: A national study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42, 438-450.

  5. Zrenchik, K., & Doherty, W. J. (2017): Confiding in the GLBT community about problems in marriage and long-term committed relationships: A Comparative analysis, Journal of GLBT Family Studies, DOI 10.1080/1550428X.2017.1302381

  6. McDaniel, S.H., Doherty, W.J., & Hepworth, J. (2014). Medical family therapy and integrated care. Second edition. Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association.

  7. Mendenhall, T., Berge, J., & Doherty, W. (2014). Engaging communities as partners in research: Advancing integrated care through purposeful partnerships. In J. Hodgson, A. Lamson, T. Mendenhall, & D.R. Crane (2014).  Medical family therapy: Advanced applications. (pp. 259-282). New York: Springer.

  8. Wilde, J.L., & Doherty, W.J. (2013). Outcomes of an intensive couple relationship education program with fragile families. Family Process, 52, 455-464.

  9. Doherty, W.J. (2013). The Citizen professional: Working with families and communities on problems people care about. Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 5, 111-126.

  10. Doherty, W.J., (2013). When therapy is going nowhere. Psychotherapy Networker, May/June, pp. 25-30, 62.

  11. Doherty, W.J. (2013). The citizen therapist and social change. In J.A. Kottler, M.E-C., & J. Carlson (Eds.), Helping beyond the 50-minute hour: Therapists involved in meaningful social action. (pp. 15-25). New York: Routledge.

  12. Beaton, J.M., Doherty, W.J., & Wenger, L. (2013). Mothers and fathers coparenting together. In A.L. Vangelisti (Ed), Handbook of Family Communication. (2nd edition). Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  13. Doherty, W. J. (2012). One brick at a time: Therapy is more than art or science. Psychotherapy Networker, September/October, 2012, 23-29, 58, 60.

  14. Berge, J. M., Wickel, K., & Doherty, W. J. (2012). The individual and combined influence of the “quality” and “quantity” off family meals on adult body mass index. Families, Systems & Health, 30, 344-351.

  15. Berge, J.M, Arikian, A., Doherty, W.J., Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2012). Healthy eating and activity in the home environment: Results from multi-family focus groups. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 44, 123-131.

  16. Jordan, C., Doherty, W. J., Jones-Webb, R., Cook, N., Dubrow, G., & Mendenhall, T. J. (2012), Competency-based faculty development in communityengaged scholarship: A Diffusion of innovation approach. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16, 65-95

  17. Beaton, J. M., Doherty, W. J., & Wenger, L. (2012). Mothers and fathers coparenting together. In A. L. Vangelisti (Ed), Handbook of Family Communication. (2nd edition). Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  18. Hawkins, A. J., Willougby, B. J., & Doherty, W. J. (2012). Reasons for divorce and openness to marital reconciliation. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53. 453–463.

  19. Doherty, W. J., Willoughby, B. J., & Peterson, B. (2011). Interest in reconciliation among divorcing parents. Family Court Review, 49, 313-321. Non-technical summary and update published in Family Law Forum, 19, 48-52.

  20. Wilde, J. L., & Doherty, W. J. (2011). Intimate partner violence between unmarried parents before and during participation in a couple and relationship education program. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 10, 135-151.

  21. Doherty, W. J., (2011). In or out: Treating the mixed-agenda couple. Psychotherapy Networker, September-October, pp. 45-50, 58.60.

  22. Doherty, W. J., & Sears, L. W. (2011). Second chances: A Proposal to reduce unnecessary divorce. New York: Institute for American Values.

  23. Doherty, W. J., & Craft, S. (2011). Single mothers raising children with “male positive” attitudes. Family Process, 50, 63-76.

  24. Doherty, W. J., & McDaniel, S. H. (2010). Family therapy. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

  25. Anderson, J. R., van Ryzin, M., & Doherty, W. J. (2010). Developmental trajectories of marital happiness in continuously married individuals: A group based approach. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 587-596.

  26. Doherty, W. J., Mendenhall, T, J., & Berge, J. M. (2010). The Families and Democracy and Citizen Health Care Project. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 36, 389-402.

  27. Berge, J., M., Doherty, W. J., & Mendenhall, T. J. (2009). Using community based participatory research (CBPR) to target health disparities. Family Relations, 58, 475-488.

  28. Doherty, W. J., Jacob, J., & Cutting, B. (2009). Community Engaged Parent Education: Strengthening civic engagement among parents and parent educators. Family Relations, 58, 303-315.

  29. Doherty, W. J., (2009). Morality and spiritual in therapy. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Spiritual resources in family therapy. 2nd edition. (pp. 215-228). New York: Guilford.