About Marital First Responders and its Founders

Marital First Responders is a breakthrough way to help marriages by tapping into the power of their support networks—the people who care about them. This is a legacy project for Bill Doherty, Ph.D. and made available for FREE to you through The Doherty Foundation.

When people are worried or upset about their marriage, they turn first to friends and family members, not to professionals. Our research shows that there are millions of these “natural confidants,” people who others trust with their marital concerns.

But who helps these confidants do a good job of helping people who open up to them?

The answer: until Marital First Responders training, no one has helped them be the best confidant they can be.

We all struggle at times and we can all benefit from more confidence, clarity and effectiveness with people who come to us for one-time conversations, who lean on us heavily in a marital crisis, or who bring up the same problem for months or years. Even mental health professionals who go through our training admit they struggle knowing how to be a good confidant for family and friends outside of their professional role.

Together we have built the core Marital First Responders Boot Camp training, and are bringing the experience of the best marriage experts to help Marital First Responders keep learning, growing, and helping those who confide in them. These special topics will include how married couples deal with ADHD, depression, anxiety, money problems, time management differences, and other pressures they face.

We are collaborative and excited to grow with the amazing wisdom of the people (married, single, widowed, divorced) who go through our program, with the special expertise of professionals in our network, with the passion of faith community leaders for grass roots marriage ministry.

Please join us in this adventure!

Bill Doherty, Ph.D.

Bill Doherty, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized marriage and family therapist, researcher, writer, professor, citizen engagement activist and Co-Founder of The Doherty Relationship Institute. He was inspired to create Marital First Responders training after learning about the Australian Mental Health First Aid program, which within a decade trained 1% of the entire adult population of that country on how to respond helpfully to someone in a mental health crisis. Bill’s research at the University of Minnesota showed him that there is great need and interest in the United States for training in how to be helpful when friends and loved ones confide about marital problems.

His dream is to make Marital First Responders so universal that every married couple will have someone in their natural network who knows how to support them and, when appropriate, steer them to professional help.

Doherty Thomas, MS

Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, MS, is Bill’s daughter and Co-Founder of The Doherty Relationship Institute. She's a one-time marriage and family therapist with a passion for bringing knowledge about everyday marital dramas into the hands of lay people and for gathering the best wisdom from professionals and couples themselves on how to be helpful. She’s fascinated with the specific everyday problems in marriages, and how to deal with them, rather than with 10,000 foot “marriage advice” that is often too general. Her role is the operational, tech, and marketing hat where she hopes to help as many organizations with her tech skills to be able to create a marriage ministry with as little “administrative” work as possible.