Marriage Repair And Renewal

By Dr. Trudy Guo
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - October 07, 2009
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Dr. Trudy Guo
Psychologist

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I received my undergraduate psychology degree from Stanford University and my doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Hawaii. I did an internship at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Martinez, Calif.

How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing for I6 years. I worked at Kapiolani Counseling Center for about 10 years before starting my private practice six years ago.


 

Do you have an area of specialty?

I primarily work with women and couples.

Do most couples come in for marriage counseling only when their marriage is on the brink of divorce?

Yes, unfortunately many couples come in as a “last-ditch” effort to save their marriage. They often say that they should have sought help sooner.

How can counseling help to save a marriage that is on the brink of divorce?

Counseling can help couples unlearn destructive attitudes and behaviors, and learn how to repair and renew their marriage. Every marriage has its ups and downs, but if couples work through the hard times, they may find that things do get better and they can “fall in love” again.

Dr. Guo talks with a couple about how to strengthen their marriage

Do the sessions usually involve both parties, or do you do separate and group sessions?

I meet with each individual separately as part of the initial assessment, but the marriage counseling sessions usually involve both parties. If there are individual issues that require more attention, I usually refer to another therapist for individual psychotherapy.

Why is it important for couples to meet with a psychologist even when their relationship is going well?

Preventive interventions while couples are still happy or in the early stages of distress are most effective. Issues are much harder to resolve after negative patterns have become established and there are deep hurts and resentments to overcome. Studies have shown that couples who complete premarital, skill-based marriage-education programs have significantly happier marriages and reduced divorce rates.

What do couples usually discover about themselves and their relationship through marriage counseling?

They usually gain a better understanding of themselves and each other, learn how to communicate more effectively, resolve and manage conflicts, achieve accurate beliefs and realistic expectations, and enhance intimacy and commitment.


What is some key advice for couples to keep a healthy marriage?

Prioritize each other and the relationship. Make time each day to communicate and connect. Take responsibility to do your part instead of blaming your partner. Focus on the positive, and show affection, respect and appreciation for each other. Understand and try your best to meet your spouse’s needs. Compromise on resolvable issues, and learn how to manage the unresolvable ones. Recommit daily to loving each other for better or for worse.

Are sessions covered by medical insurance?

If one or both individuals meet criteria for a clinical diagnosis, most insurance companies will cover family psychotherapy sessions; otherwise, marriage counseling is not usually covered. In addition to counseling, there are many different marriage education programs available including classes, workshops, retreats, CD/DVD home-studies, Internet and phone-coaching. A directory of programs can be found at http://www.smartmarriages.com.

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