Dr. Bill Doherty on the Power and Potential of Strong Relationships

According to several medical studies, our health is directly affected by social isolation. Indicators such as a small social network, low participation in social activities, a perceived lack of social support, and feelings of loneliness can result in a wide range of health risks for older adults. In the age of social technology and minimal work-life balance, it can feel as though we have don’t have the tools, time, or energy to foster productive relationships.

In healthcare, we have seen this relational fallout in provider-patient relationships. Providers feel powerless to the pressures of a complicated and frustrating healthcare system, while patients are skeptical and unconvinced when they receive care. Increasingly, patients don’t trust their provider, as only 24% of Americans have confidence in medical professions, compared to 73% in 1966. This problem is uniquely American, as we are considerably less likely to trust our physicians compared to other developed countries. Specifically in primary care, relationship building is paramount to promoting healthy lifestyle choices and preventive care in patients. How can primary care providers practice if they don’t have an effective bond with their patients?

Clinicians can look to the work of one psychologist who has set out to prove the power and potential of strong relationships.

This week, Relational Rounds host Elizabeth Metraux speaks with a educator, therapist, and community organizer Dr. Bill Doherty. With expertise in unpacking a myriad of issues from overscheduled kids to family dynamics during wedding planning, Dr. Doherty discusses the need to democratize relationships and work towards collective agency in solving problems locally and nationally. A Professor and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Doherty has also developed and led the Families and Democracy Project and the Citizen Health Care Project, a community organizing approach to working with families and promoting cultural change, since 1999.

Tune into this week’s installment of Relational Rounds to learn why creating bridges and strengthening bonds between people is key to solving current social hardships, and how healthcare will be better because of it.

Primary Care Progress

Founded in 2010, Primary Care Progress is a national organization committed to building stronger primary care teams. Working with current and future healthcare professionals from across disciplines and career stages – from students and faculty to providers and health systems leaders – we offer leadership development and support that emphasizes relational skills, individual resiliency, and advocacy. By providing the resources and community necessary to excel, we’re strengthening the teams at the heart of primary care, ultimately leading to sustainable models of care and better health for all.

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