Jana Martiskova is a CBT therapist in Central London

What attracted you to become a therapist?

I knew very early that I want to have a helping profession. As a child I wanted to be a nurse, or a teacher. Initially, I ended up working in a bank, but quickly decided to quit in order to study what I loved most and became fully immersed in studying psychology and psychotherapy.

In my own personal journey, therapy helped me through a difficult time in my early 20’s and I have appreciated its value since then. I knew then that is what I want to do professionally!

Where did you train? 

I received my Ph.D. in Psychology from Trnava University, Slovakia based on research I conducted in London and Vienna. I trained as a therapist at the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies and at the UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy in London.

Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?

I am a cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT) and I practice cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and compassion focused therapy.

I chose CBT because it is very effective in treating common problems such as depression or anxiety. As a scientist, I was drawn to it because it is evidence-based and has a strong track record for success. CBT is goal-oriented and focuses directly on the client’s current problem, the thing that is impacting their life the most right now.

In the session, clients become more aware of their thought processes, emotions, and behaviours and understand how they interact and affect each other. Once they become aware of their negative/unhelpful thinking patterns and see the connection between what they think and how they feel and behave, we can start working on changing those patterns. Clients also make progress faster when they are engaged in relevant tasks outside our sessions. For example, for clients with depression, we schedule activities that can improve their mood and provide awareness exercises such as recording their negative thoughts and monitoring their moods and emotions, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques to name just a few. In my practice I often use hypnotherapy to reinforce what the client has learnt in the session.

How does CBT help with symptoms of anxiety?

In CBT sessions, clients learn how to work with their thoughts, e.g. distancing from their worry thoughts, challenging them, developing a more helpful self-talk. 

As for uncomfortable emotions, instead of trying to get rid of them, we work on acceptance and building more tolerance for them. Clients learn that they don’t need to avoid what they want to do (e.g. get a better job) just because they feel negative emotions (job interview anxiety). They learn how to manage their anxiety and other negative emotions and lead a meaningful life.

What sort of people do you usually see?

I work with adults of different ages while specialising in anxiety disorders. I work with clients who have phobias, social anxiety, health anxiety, students who procrastinate, experience exam or performance anxiety or have perfectionistic tendencies, or people who struggle with worry thoughts or/and self-critical thoughts. 

I also see clients with depression, individuals who struggle with self-confidence, and people who want to become more resilient.

Have you noticed any recent mental health trends or wider changes in attitude?

In the last couple of years, I’ve seen more students who seem anxious in social situations. During the pandemic I had many clients who struggled with obsessive-compulsive tendencies related to Covid-19 and experienced relationship problems. 

It is good to see that people are more open to talk about their mental health issues and reach out.   

What do you like about being a therapist?

I love being a therapist! It is a humbling experience to hear stories my clients share just in the therapy room, creating space where they feel safe, listened to, and understood. It is very rewarding to be there with them when they have an ‘aha’ moment, when everything comes together and see how they transform.

What is less pleasant?

Being a therapist in private practice might feel isolating at times. It is important for me to stay connected with my colleagues. I always appreciate our regular peer support meetings where we offload.

How long have you been with Welldoing and what you think of us?

I have been with Welldoing for two years. It has been a very good experience. I like the matching system. I’ve been contacted several times and I was very happy with the assistance I got when I needed to sort out booking and payment system! 

Welldoing's newsletter is informative, and I also enjoy reading the material on different topics I receive via email.

Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?

I suggest books to my clients, sometimes we discussed books they’ve read or movies they’ve seen. Lately I have suggested application Insight Timer.

What you do for your own mental health? 

I do yoga and I practise mindfulness. With my partner we keep gratitude journal. Physical activity is very important for me. Going to the gym, cycling, and long walks help me clear my head. Supervision is also a good way to decompress.

You are a therapist in London Bridge. What can you share with us about seeing clients in this area? 

London Bridge area is very busy and well connected! My therapy room is just two-minute walk from the station and several bus stops, which is very convenient. 

There are many businesses and residential areas nearby. I see lots of professionals, students or people who live walking distance from the building where I work. It varies.

What’s your consultation room like?

Therapy rooms in the building where I work are cosy. They all have comfortable sofas, small tables with plants, bottle of water and tissue boxes.

What do you wish people knew about therapy?

They do not need to suffer and struggle alone. I want to encourage them to contact a therapist if they experience difficult emotions, struggle with distressing thoughts or want to change some of their habits. Mental health is equally important as physical health. Help is available, they can find accessible and affordable services. There is no need to wait till there is a crisis. 

What did you learn about yourself in therapy?

Many things… I learnt that this is the job I really want to do! I learnt to appreciate life more, be grateful for what we have and how important and transformative it can be to just be there for others.

Contact Jana here

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