The Wall Street Journal provides excellent coverage of health, science, and technology issues which is totally independent of its political coverage. The edition for February 9, 2015, included an interesting article that prominently featured a Minnesota family therapist, William Doherty, Ph.D. The article, “Be There for a Friends Relationship Crisis, But Don’t Give Advice” describes Dr. Doherty’s workshop called “Marital First Responders,” which helps concerned peers provide support for people with serious relationship problems.The article does not mention that he developed this program with his daughter, Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, MS, LAMFT. 

They provide workshops for military families, drug offenders, and others in the community. The workshop provides information and skills-based on Dr. Doherty’s study, conducted with colleagues, of 1000 people, which found that 74% of adults have been a confident to someone going through a significant relationship problem. The workshop reviews what confidence tend to do that is not helpful, and what they can do that clearly is more helpful and emphasized 3 basic, “always safe to do” skills”: listen, emphasize and affirm.  The article provides a brief, but helpful, summary of both helpful and unhelpful responses that non-professionals tend to do when trying to help their peers with relationship problems.

My take on the article: it is fun to read about local “talent” making a splash at the national level. The article provides a breezy and informative summary of some “do-able” and potentially helpful things that non-professionals can do to help their friends with relationship difficulties. It could potentially be a resource to pass on to interested consumers of mental health services.

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