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 2020.
"Can marriage counseling save America?" The Atlantic
"How to bring out the 'better angels' in your community," MPR with Kerri Miller
"Don't get divorced because of Trump," USA Today
"Crossing Divides," BBC Trending Podcast (50 minutes)
"Crossing Divides," BBC Trending Podcast (23 minutes)
"Crossing Divides," BBC Trending, mini-documentary
"How majorities can be allies to minorities," Big Think
"How has fatherhood changed?", WCCO-TV, Good Question
New York Times Columnist David Brooks praised Family Social Science Professor Bill Doherty for his work with Better Angels in building bridges across the political divide in the February 19 column, “Respect First, Then Gun Control.”
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.
Outreach & Engagement
Minnesota Couples on the Brink, Project Director
Teaching & Learning
FSOS 8101 Family Stress and Coping
FSOS 8039 Clinical Interventions for Couples
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
See CV for complete list
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.