Meet the Practitioner – Howard Martin

Howard is a qualified and experienced UKCP therapist offering short and long-term therapy, usually practicing from the St Davids Wellbeing centre. In these strange times of COVID-19, he has moved his practice online. He’s trained in several different approaches, including C.B.T. (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy), Person-Centred Counselling, Humanistic and Psychoanalytic, and so can work in whichever way best suits you!

Here we catch up with Howard and learn more about his way of working, how he’s coping with our current circumstances and some strategies for maintaining mental health during lockdown.

What made you want to take the step to become a therapist?

I’ve always had an interest in what made humans tick as long as I can remember, particularly when people seemed to be acting differently to how they were really feeling. I had my own issues of distress and confusion growing up which caused problems in my early adulthood. When I found sources of help for these issues I had to become somewhat of an expert in sorting them out. My experience of therapy was really positive. After being successful in mental health work and another career running alongside I realised I had picked up valuable knowledge and insight to help others along the way. That’s when I decided to train as a therapist.

Do you specialise in any issues in particular?

I am trained as a general psychotherapist so I am equipped to work with a range of issues. Certain specialisms and interests have evolved – stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, addictions, including sex addiction, co-dependency, and eco-therapy – how we deal with ecological crises.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of having therapy, but is feeling apprehensive?

Your therapist will be trained to be compassionate and understanding and there is no obligation to go back if you just want to try one session and see how you like it. The therapist will then usually recommend you try a few more sessions to see how it suits you. Having therapy doesn’t mean there’s anything “wrong” or “sick” about you. We have all had at least a few unhelpful thought or behaviour patterns that would be good to examine, unravel and then change if we want to. Therapy is a bit like exercise, it might seem daunting to take the first step, but I’ve never heard anybody say that they regret doing it afterwards.

How are you adjusting to our new circumstances, both personally and professionally?

Personally I feel privileged to have pleasant outdoor space that I can walk to easily and although I like to travel about I have taken the opportunity to be with myself and have some more relaxed time. A simple strategy for me has been to accept things I can’t change and focus my energy on those things that I can change.

I am lucky to have clients who have migrated easily to therapy online. Online therapy is definitely not quite the same as face-to-face therapy, but not necessarily inferior. Some people can feel less inhibited online as they are in their own home with no journey to make to and from the therapy room.

Do you have any advice for people struggling with their mental health during the lockdown?

There are several strategies that help people feel less stress, anxiety and depression:

  • Making a routine seems to be the most important thing to give people more of a feeling of stability.

  • Some form of exercise, whether outside or inside is great for changing the way you feel, whether you’re bored, angry, fearful, depressed or anxious. There are numerous online classes in yoga, Pilates or Aerobics.

  • Don’t pressurise yourself to achieve more than you want to, although you could use any extra time you have to study something you’ve always wanted to, but never had the time.

  • Accept things you can’t change, it’s much less stressful!

  • Reach out to others by phone or online, either to share your own worries and feelings and to support others – befriending a vulnerable person at this time will help both you and them.

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