Even the most loving relationships take work to stay strong over the years. With the passage of time, the intense feelings that you had for each other at the start of the relationship often fade until you both feel as if you’ve grown apart or you’re just “going through the motions”.
Sometimes an affair, betrayal, or constant fighting can mean that one or both partners want to give up and walk away, but in many cases there is still hope. Working with a trained relationship counselor can help you to re-ignite that spark you’ve been missing and uncover the feelings of love that have been buried under anger, jealousy, bitterness and regret.
Maybe your problems don’t lie in your relationship with a romantic partner, but rather you’re struggling with a strained relationship with your teenage child. Or perhaps the whole family is dealing with internal and external pressures and you feel like you’re at breaking point. Whatever the situation is, relationship counseling can help.
Trained Relationship Counselor – Sinead Smyth
Sinead Smyth is originally from Ireland and worked as an attorney before becoming a licensed therapist in 2000. During her time as a family lawyer, she witnessed the breakdown of many relationships due to difficulties in communication. This inspired her to embark on a new career in counseling to help others repair their relationships and bring couples and families back together.
She works with two other therapists out of her offices in Alameda and Pleasanton, both of whom also have varied career backgrounds and life experiences. All three therapists benefit from the skills that they have learned in their years before working in counseling to bring people together and facilitate connection and compromise.
Sinead is one of only 20 master trainers worldwide in the Gottman Method and trains other therapists through the Gottman Institute in the US and Europe.
Her clients value her not only for her straightforward approach, but also for her sense of humor, relateability, and true compassion for the couples and individuals she works with.
As well as helping couples to work through their relationship issues, Sinead and the team also work with families and teenagers to help people of all ages to improve their relationships with each other. This can be particularly helpful when going through a divorce, blending families, or other difficult transitions.
The Gottman Method
Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, who have over 40 years of experience researching and working with thousands of couples. The method is based on “The Sound Relationship House” – a theory that healthy relationships are made up of nine components:
- 1. Building Love Maps (partners really knowing each other)
- 2. Sharing fondness and admiration
- 3. Turning towards each other
- 4. Maintaining a positive perspective
- 5. Managing conflict productively
- Creating an environment where both partners' life dreams are honored
- Creating a sense of shared meaning
- Trust - a sense of having each other's back
- Commitment to the relationship
Couples embarking on Gottman Method therapy will begin by completing questionnaires and individual and joint interviews with their counselor, who will then provide feedback on the relationship - it's strengths and challenges - through the research lens.
The couple and the counselor will decide on the length of sessions and how often to attend therapy. Each session is used to help each couple strengthen their relationship by improving conflict management skills, deepen closeness and emotional connection, and build a strong sense of shared purpose and meaning.
Is Relationship Counseling for You?
While not all couples are at the point of divorce when they call us, research shows that most couples wait at least 6 years after first recognizing problems to seek help. However, counseling can be most helpful when it’s used to focus on the relationship before it's at risk of unraveling completely.
If you feel like you’re struggling with working out your issues, you’re tired of the constant fighting, or you want to rekindle the intense feelings of love you experienced at the start of your relationship, counseling can help.
To find out if couples or family therapy could help you, get in touch with Sinead Smyth and the team of counselors at the East Bay Relationship Center.