Be Heard, Gain Insight, and Change
Experienced psychotherapist in Crouch End, Muswell Hill & East Finchley
An accredited counsellor and psychotherapist based in Muswell Hill and Crouch End
We all have difficulties and need some extra help at times.
We can work together to:
... gain understanding and insight
... achieve a sense of relief
... make the changes you need
My name is Andrew Martin and I have been a practising counsellor in North London for the past 12 years. I am committed to providing counselling in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment.
My approach to counselling
For some people, it is important to understand the past, while others prefer to work in a more solution-focused way. I take an integrative approach to counselling and psychotherapy, which allows a really flexible treatment based on your individual needs. Click here to learn more about my qualifications and experience.
Areas of experience
As a counsellor in North London I work a lot with relationship issues, and the feelings of betrayal, low self-esteem and stress associated with separation and divorce. A counsellor can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings and discover how to move forward with your relationship.
Anxiety is also linked to assertiveness issues like the experience of being 'used' or 'walked over' by the people in your life. This often leads to low self-esteem, depression, guilt and shame.
Contact me to talk about...
- Relationship issues
- Panic Attacks
- Social Anxiety
What to expect
You might talk about your background, your relationships, or what you hope to achieve through counselling and psychotherapy. It's also a good time to ask me questions about the counselling process, and I’ll answer them as clearly as I can.
By the end of the session you’ll probably know if you feel safe with me, and want to come back and see me again.
From my perspective I want to use the first session to get to know you, to explain things like confidentiality, what I offer, and what it might feel like to see me.
I’ll also start to formulate your concerns using one or more psychological models. At the end of the session, I’ll tell you my thoughts and recommend our next steps.
If we both feel that there is a good ‘match’ then I will suggest a time-limited course of counselling. I find it useful to begin in this structured way since it provides a good opportunity to step back and evaluate progress.
We would also need to agree on a location for counselling in Muswell Hill, Crouch End or East Finchley that you can attend for 50 minutes a week for an agreed number of weeks.
New Article: Assertiveness in Relationships
I want to give a general overview of how anxiety can be at the core of relationship difficulties. “John” is not an actual client but rather a typical example that best illustrates what many of my relationship clients say to me, and the work we typically do together to help resolve their relationship problems.
John is a 36-year-old man who has been married to Sarah for the past 3 years. He comes to me seeking psychotherapy to help with depression and relationship issues. He says that he is no longer getting on with Sarah, they bicker all the time, and can’t seem to have a conversation without it turning into an argument.
In fact John discloses that he feels quite intimidated or even scared by Sarah. He is worried that if he says what he actually thinks to her she will lose her temper with him, and so he says nothing as that feels easier.
Over time John has become resentful and feels like the only option he has left is to leave the relationship. However, when he seriously thinks of leaving Sarah, he is aware that this is really not what he wants at all. He fears he will lose access to their young children and also that he will be lonely. Moreover, he’s sure he still loves her. What he really wants is to be able to have the relationship that they used to have, where he felt that they were a team and he was not scared of her irrational angry responses to what he says.
How to understand what is happening for John:
Although John has come to me with depression and relationship issues, that is not what I see as the main cause of the depression and breakdown in his relationship with Sarah.
The depression is there because John cannot imagine a way through the relationship problems and feels trapped and hopeless. He sees his options as being either to stay as things are with a wife he walks on eggshells around and cannot be honest with, or to leave her, giving up his chance at a family life. Both options seem terrible to John. In my opinion, this sense of being trapped, unable to find a way out, is what is causing the depression.
Anxiety in relationships:
As we work together, John starts to see that he has got into the habit of not being honest with Sarah about his real thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t matter if it’s about what they are going to have for dinner that night or what school to send their child to. Big or small, John often no longer tells Sarah his truth. John has got into the habit of being sensitive to what Sarah wants and then just going along with it. He is worried about what he sees as her irrational and angry reaction to anything he says that she doesn’t agree with.
What started out as a simple case of not telling her his truth so he did not have to deal with her anger has now become an ingrained set of roles in the relationship that both parties have fallen into without even noticing it.
John is doing what we all do when we are suffering from almost any kind of anxiety disorder. He is avoiding short-term pain (the chance of confrontation if he is honest with Sarah), but the outcome of this avoidance is that he experiences long-term, chronic pain instead ( feeling depressed, bitter, resentful, blaming Sarah for the problem, feeling trapped). This may also affect his self-esteem and confidence in other areas of life.
For John it is essential to understand that his partner cannot know what he isn’t telling her. His silence guarantees his ongoing misery and hopelessness. However, it is not as simple as saying to a client like John “Off you go, and tell your partner what you actually think”. This doesn’t work for two reasons...
Find out More...
I am shy but it was easy to open up to Andrew, he put me at ease and made me feel comfortable. He listened attentively and was very down-to-earth, wise and sensitive.
Andrew made me feel like I was one of his only patients, and he wanted to bring me back to optimum mental health as soon as possible.
After 8 weekly sessions, together we found the underlying root causes of my problems and he guided me in how to deal with them. I found it really helpful when he participated in the exercises with me.
Now, I can honestly say that I am confident that I have the tools to deal with my anxiety and panic, thanks to Andrew."
New Article: OCD - An Introduction
What is it?
So many of my clients come to me suffering with the symptoms of OCD that I thought I would write a set of articles about it to answer some of the common questions that come up in our sessions.
This article is an introduction to OCD. Over the next few months I will add to the subject, with relevant links to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
OCD is an anxiety disorder where the sufferer is dogged by unwanted thoughts, called obsessions. These are usually (although not always) accompanied by a strong desire to carry out an activity or behaviour of some sort to get rid of the unwanted obsession. These behaviours are the compulsions that are talked about in OCD.
What is an obsession?
In OCD the disturbing thoughts are called ‘obsessions,’ and they are usually unpleasant with very negative and disturbing content. They are intrusive and unwanted; regardless of your desire, they just seem to pop into your head without being invited.
Obsessions are really varied; however, some unwanted thoughts might be about being responsible for causing, or failing to prevent, harm to yourself, your loved ones or others. For example, the thought of killing your child or a stranger might be the core of an obsession.
People who suffer from OCD may interpret the thoughts they have to mean something really bad about themselves, such as that they are going mad, or that they are a danger to others.
What is a compulsion?
The compulsions in OCD can be thought of as the way that the discomfort from the obsessions is reduced.
They are often tasks or behaviours that are repeated over and over again, perhaps in a specific order. They may become ritualised over time. Common compulsions include arranging objects in a particular order, washing yourself over and over, cleaning, tapping, and saying prayers...
Find out More...
He helped me face up to truths not only about my marriage but mainly about myself - even when I didn’t want to accept them. Without a doubt, this made me a better person, wife and mother."
Case Study - Social Anxiety
Dan from Muswell Hill, counselling for social anxiety:
I have suffered from anxiety for what seems like most of my adult life. Over the last few years, it has really got in the way of me doing things. From working with Andrew, I realised I was suffering from what he called 'social anxiety'.
In my social life, I ended up avoiding events like parties and after-work drinks. Once I even ducked out of a good friend's wedding, which left me feeling really bad about myself. My head would fill with horrible thoughts about how I am not interesting to talk to, and how people don't tend to like me. I would imagine standing by myself feeling nervous with a drink in my hand, whilst the other party goers would be talking, laughing and having a really good time.
My social anxiety also affected my work. I would have thoughts full of dread when my boss would want to talk to me about the state of my projects. I would also have a great deal of difficulty sitting in meetings. I would get really anxious about being asked a question I couldn't answer. I would have nasty thoughts about how I would make a fool of myself if I had to speak up, and how stupid I would look.
Even if I did know what to say in the meetings, I would usually sound all nervous, my voice would shake, and I found the fear of this happening made my ability to talk in public even worse. I ended up calling in sick for work on days when there was a big meeting or if I had to give a presentation.
I don't know for sure, but I think my boss was starting to see a pattern, and I was worried that he might confront me and ask me what was going on. At this time I started seeing Andrew for anxiety counselling in his Muswell HIll clinic.
I saw Andrew for about six months and I feel I made real progress. I learned how my thoughts and feeling worked together to make me anxious, and how I had unknowingly been my own worst enemy.
By routinely avoiding the situations that made me anxious, I was learning that I was not capable of facing life's challenges. I had unconsciously taught myself that the only way I could get through the horrible thoughts and feelings that made my life so hard was to run away from the events that triggered them.
The outcome was that I had robbed myself of the ability to see that I was much more capable than I usually think and feel I am. I saw that my self-image and esteem have taken a real battering due to my avoidance, and this was all making the anxiety worse and my life much smaller.
I felt like I learned a lot about what's been driving me, which felt great; and I felt like I was actually going to be able to do something about it, which also felt great. It was hard work and at times quite challenging. When I look back I can see it was the more challenging stuff that's been most valuable to me now.
I know I've turned a corner, that I have the knowledge and a good set of tools so I can face the situations I used to run away from. It has not been the easiest thing I've ever done, but it has been one of the most rewarding.
More about Social Anxiety...