Biggest Kept Secret in Couples Therapy:

It's the Therapy Container that Causes Most of Our Problems. 

What Do We Mean? Keep Reading!

If You Join Us, You Will Gain Expertise and Skills from a 

Widely Regarded Leader and Trainer...

  • The creator of the only research informed approach to help couples on the brink of divorce
  • One of the original 5 creators of the first National Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Exam
  • The Co-Founder of the field of Medical Family Therapy
  • One of the rare triple experts in Family Studies, Couples Therapy and Family Therapy

The Doherty Approach, in a nutshell, offers you a way of:

  • viewing relationship problems in a common sense, theory-based order (most therapists have no articulated way of prioritizing the order of tackling each problem couples bring us)
  • conceptualizing interactional patterns (between them AND within the therapy system itself...aka the therapy container)
  • easily engaging complicated outside relational dramas that enter the relationship (parents, in-laws, children, bosses, etc)
  • framing issues in very first session so each partner can begin to understand and sign up for their individual contributions. After doing a deep dive into training material from other models, we realized that they don't emphasize what we like to teach. What we offer can supplement any model.
  • staying tightly focused on their "between" problems, avoiding endless rabbit holes of individual issues they had from date 1, that are not the cause of nor crisis they're coming to therapy to resolve
  • and engaging couples that leaves you more confident, clear and focused, no matter what they do in the therapy room or between sessions.

about Bill Doherty

Bill Doherty has earned the respect of a wide variety of experts in the field. 

His work on rituals has been incorporated into the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy.

He was asked to endorse Sue Johnson’s Hold Me Tight book.

AAMFT asked him to do the legacy interviews of all the Family Therapy Founders in the early 1990’s. (Yes, he was very helpful to his daughter for national exam studying!)

The American Family Therapy Academy gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bill’s career has been devoted to bridging divides in couples and families.  And now he is working on depolarizing America through cofounding a nonprofit called Braver Angels, where he as extended his couple therapy skills to the political polarization in the country between Reds and Blues. It’s always about relationships of mutual trust and respect, seeing beyond differences to what makes us all human.

We want to bring couples therapists into a new way of thinking about couples therapy – and the enormously diverse reasons relationships get entwined in conflict.

 Now he’s been convinced by his daughter to finally share his approach to committed couples therapy (after launching Discernment Counseling, a training and on the ground service offered around the world when commitment to the marriage is in question.)

Most couples therapy approaches, from our deep dive into six of them, don’t emphasize what we like to teach. We’re trying to add skills and an extra lens that can help the practice of a therapist using any mode.

Here’s more.  Couples therapy has evolved separately from family therapy and family studies. We bring them together in The Doherty Approach.  We want the tens of thousands of couples therapists in the country to see the advantages of a multisystem view of marriage and committed relationships.  A marriage is a lot bigger than two people.

While you continue with whatever approach works for you, we hope you will leverage our approach for a a deeper understanding of the couple therapy system that includes the therapist (which, by the way, is the key to dealing with many of the tough cases we experience in our offices), and a more nuanced, balanced way to do therapy when one of the two people is a lot less interested than the other in being in the room with us! 

We will help you deal with three fundamental frustrations that couples therapist experience--ones that haven’t changed much over the decades, despite new models of therapy. 

We don't get traction early on with some couples.

  • Can’t get BOTH partners on board.
  • Can’t get one to sign up for any personal responsibility in the problem/pattern
  • Can’t get a focus because they have so many issues, we don't know what the main issues are.  

We struggle to relate to both partners.

Example: One spouse has a rough personality/rubs us the wrong way, and the other seems easy to deal with. 

We see serious personal issues in one of the spouses who denies the problem.

How do you do couples therapy when someone is impaired, we ask ourselves, especially if they disagree?

Here's something startling:

Imagine seeing the most difficult of all couples – on the brink, little trust, personally agitated, and well below the average distress level of couples seeking therapy – and not feeling any pessimism or negativity towards either spouse or how they engage in the therapy?

Imagine having a therapy approach that takes for granted how frustrating and difficult couples can be to engage and has a plan for exactly what to do, and what to do next when the first steps don’t work, and what to do after that. You are never without a constructive move to make.  

Imagine a therapy approach that quickly (session 1):

  • engages both individuals, no matter how inarticulate they are about their inner lives, or how fascinated (or not) they are about their partners emotional world
  • builds in early traction, and creates the therapeutic container where both spouses are actively engaged in the work on their own marriage, in every session, in every conversation within the session. 
  • And if they don’t engage or agree on the work, we have a Traction Protocol to gracefully address the reality in the work.

We could talk your ear off.

We’ll end on our theoretical backing, before we (hope) you join up with our email list, so we can share more!

We hold a multi-systemic approach,

which lets us easily handle third parties problems and beyond (stepfamilies, challenging in-laws, health care struggles with medical providers, even former affair partners and current friendship circles that can tangle up a marriage.) 

We have a framework for assessing and intervening in how  the system of the couples therapy is working, which is a huge factor in therapy breaking down (examples: therapist sides with one spouse in diagnosing the other, takes too much responsibility for agenda setting, or lets one spouse hijack sessions.)

We have a theory based way to prioritize multiproblem couples (here’s a no brainer: most couples who seek therapy have more than one problem), which ensures we clean up the foundational problems like boundary and control struggles before working on deeper intimacy.   

Our theory makes a crucial distinction between attachment as basic connection, loyalty, and love, and attachment as a deeper process of vulnerability and intimacy. The first kind of attachment has to take initial priority or the couple will fail at intimacy.    

Craft skills galore

imagine training for a sprint but ignoring all the elements that deeply impact your speed – that’s what our field does.

We ignore the skills like managing initial sessions when one spouse didn’t want to be there, dealing with pushback from one spouse while the other loves your work, how to keep both involved in every session, and how to calibrate empathy so as not to lose one of the spouses in a session.  

Final Fun -

we’re a two generation, two gendered team, a father-daughter duo, which means daughter (Elizabeth) has no problem challenging her dad on any and all parts of his approach. No question is to grand or too small.

We think this has enhanced the material greatly, and avoided the guru-status shine of “just trust us.” We’re willing to go into the hard places, with the mindset adjustments necessary for this work in a world that pulls us deeply into individualism and out of a complex, systemic lens so essential to help be the “between them” experts.