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
Areas of Interest
Democratic Community Building with Families
Citizen Health Care
Families Dealing with Chronic Illnesses
Marriage and Couples Therapy
I am not accepting new advisees for fall 2022.
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). With Professor Steven 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.
"3 Rituals Alll the Best Spouses Do For Each Other Every Single Day," YourTango.com
"A second chance for divorcing couples," For Your Marriage website
"How to have tough conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine," WCNC, Charlotte
"Two congressmen find common ground at Minnesota State Fair," ABC Good Morning America
"Reaching out to people who are still unvaccinated for Covid-19," MPR News with Kerri Miller.
"A Republican and a Democrat Walk into a Town Hall. Can they help fix Congress?" MSN.com (originally published in USA Today.
"Everyday Heroes: Bill Doherty," The Fulcrum.
"The Future of Political Healing," 12 Geniuses podcast
"Political Depolarization: How to navigate political discussions with friends and families," Thinking Clearly podcast
"The pandemic has shown the flaws of American individualism," Minnesota Reformer
"Trump's presidency divided families. What happens to them now?", Time magazine
Once a Nurse, Always a Nurse program, VoiceAmerica
“Applying couples therapy techniques to help heal America’s political divide,” CBS This Morning
“Expert Roundtable: the psychological benefits of Thanksgiving rituals,” The Greeneville Sun (TN)
“Coming together after a polarizing election,” KARE-11 Sunrise
“Depolarizing America,” The Point, Atlantic Public Radio
"November 2020 will be a time of testing. Is America ready? Are you?" Star Tribune Opinion
"Navigating holidays during the pandemic," TODAY show blog
"Setting up a COVID bubble," Star Tribune
'Overcoming family disputes on social distancing," MPR News (segment starts at approximately 25 minutes)
"My Journey as a Citizen Therapist," Journal of Humanistic Psychology
"The Pandemic and the Political Divide," KAAL-TV
"Preserving Healthy Relationships," Coronavirus: An Almanac Special, TPT
"The Right Way to Talk across Divides," Scientific American
"Cocooning during COVID-19," U of M Alumni Association
"Some cities in China are reporting high rates of divorce after stay at home orders have been lifted," Breaking the News, KARE-11
"Help your marriage through stress of quarantine," Star Tribune
Outreach & Engagement
Minnesota Couples on the Brink, Project Director
Doherty, W. J. & Harris, S. M. (2017). Helping couples on the brink of divorce: Discernment counseling for troubled relationships. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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.
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.
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.
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
McDaniel, S.H., Doherty, W.J., & Hepworth, J. (2014). Medical family therapy and integrated care. Second edition. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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.
Wilde, J.L., & Doherty, W.J. (2013). Outcomes of an intensive couple relationship education program with fragile families. Family Process, 52, 455-464.
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.
Doherty, W.J. (2013). When therapy is going nowhere. Psychotherapy Networker, May/June, pp. 25-30, 62.