Dr Maria Martinez Herves

Dr Maria Martinez Herves

Child & Adult Psychiatrist

Children over 11, Adolescents 16 - 17, Adults 18 and above

I'm Dr Maria Martinez Herves, a General Consultant Psychiatrist for children (11+), adolescents and adults. I love working with young people because I believe, where possible, prevention is better than cure.

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Dr Maria Martinez Herves

Child & Adult Psychiatrist

As a psychiatrist, I have a deep understanding and respect for psychiatric distress and difficulties. I’m dedicated to removing the stigma surrounding mental health problems. I take great care in ensuring that my patients understand that what is happening to them is not a personal failing, and is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed of. I create treatment plans that are easily understood by both children and their parents. I believe that a multidisciplinary approach is essential for a holistic and sustained improvement.

I have extensive experience with many conditions, and expertise helping patients who are experiencing a crisis. I often see patients experiencing severe psychological distress, which may lead to difficulty regulating emotions and self-harm in some cases. I also have substantial experience in treating mood disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD, psychosis (including first-episode) and schizophrenia.

I regard the patient as the product, not the problem. They result from their environmental, genetic and social influences, all of which can be addressed and supported with professional help.

Areas of Expertise

Mood disorders

I have extensive experience treating mood disorders in children and adolescents. ‘Mood disorder’ is an umbrella term used to describe many symptoms, usually a mixture of depression with mood fluctuations and anxiety. Usually, it is a general emotional state or mood that is not consistent with the circumstances. Treatment of mood disorders often requires a multi-disciplinary approach that includes medication, where necessary, psychotherapy and lifestyle advice.

I prefer to use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) for mood disorders. A combination of mindfulness and CBT can effectively reduce emotional distress in mood-dysregulation and disordered mood. I also use a family system therapy approach, which often involves the patient and the family, and I use one on one therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, so I often see children struggling with symptoms of ADHD. Sufferers often struggle to keep still, find maintaining focus difficult or, conversely, experience bouts of hyperfocus. I’m trained in making ADHD assessments, which I usually spread across multiple sessions to make sure the patient can maintain focus. I have seen hundreds of patients demonstrating signs of ADHD from an early age – it is crucial to identify and implement strategies for ADHD as early as possible so that their education is not detrimentally affected as they progress onto more challenging studies.

For more information, see our page on Assessment of ADHD in children and adolescents.

Online bullying

I’m particularly interested in the effects of cyberbullying (and traditional bullying) on mental health in young people. With the increase in technology and social media, I believe it’s essential that we pay attention to these new trends’ emotional and social repercussions. We must help young people navigate through the current difficulties of social media and better understand what it means to view so much of the world through a screen.

My approach to mental health

In my practice, I take a bio-psycho-social approach to treatment. This approach is the bedrock of my perspective, where I see people as a product of multiple factors; genetics, psychological experience and social interactions.

While I place my patients at the centre of my care, I regard them as a single piece of a much broader, more complex, interactive puzzle. My patients’ symptoms are influenced by multiple moving parts, all the way from family dynamics and schooling to genetics and biochemistry. For this reason, I place great importance on listening carefully to my patients and their reported experiences to gain as much insight as possible into their expertise. I am passionate about the positive impact of healthy communication within the family structure and use my family systems therapy experience to educate my patients and their parents. I am reliant on the parents and the patients’ reports and always encourage open and honest discussion.

Commonly, a patient may present with a wide variety of symptoms, and it’s rare for anyone to fit neatly under a single diagnosis. For this reason, it is essential to take the time to thoroughly investigate the patient’s experience, especially with children and young people.

Equally important is educating parents about what is happening to their child and what they can do to help – we term this ‘psychoeducation’. Parents may carry a misplaced sense of guilt that they have raised their child incorrectly and may feel it’s their responsibility that their child is now suffering. Parents appreciate that mental health conditions are a complex combination of factors, many of which are beyond their control. That said, we can use tools and strategies to help children, which I can explain during sessions of family systems therapy.

I aspire to instil positive beliefs in my patients about their diagnoses at an early age so that they can feel proud of themselves and their progress. I wholeheartedly believe that psychoeducation brings patients and families a significant step closer to handling their condition more effectively.

My approach to medication

I often meet parents who are fearful of their children taking medication. I use an evidence-based approach, only using medication when necessary and follow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. The right medication can make a positive impact on a child. When medication is combined with psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or family system therapy, this often achieves the best results.

I endeavour to make decisions about medication in collaboration with the parents, fostering an approach that ensures everyone is as informed and comfortable about the treatment plan as possible. It is important to note that medication prescriptions are subject to regular review. I work closely with my patients and their parents, monitoring the efficacy of medications to find out the optimal dose that renders the highest benefits with the lowest side effects.

Training and education

I currently work as a Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist in the Neurodevelopmental team at Newham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and see patients in my private practice. In addition to my specialist training in General Psychiatry, I was also awarded a Koplowitz Fellowship from Imperial College London specialising in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

I have worked as a Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and Lead Clinician in acute adolescent inpatient units and outreach treatment teams across the UK. My experience working in NHS Mental Health Trusts such as the South West London and St George’s Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital Department Of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust has given me valuable insight and clinical experience in child and adolescent mental health conditions.

I’m passionate about sharing my clinical knowledge and training medical students. I’ve given honorary lectures and supervised students at Imperial College London Medical School, St Mary’s Hospital, St George’s Hospital, St Charles Hospital, the Beacon Centre and the Aquarius Adolescent Inpatient Unit. I also acted as an academic supervisor for several doctors completing a Fellowship from the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation.

Having completed my Medical Doctor degree at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain in 2007, I then specialise in General Psychiatry in Spain in 2012, followed by a specialist Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Imperial College, London in 2014.

As part of my academic career, I’ve authored and co-authored several medical publications in clinical psychiatry, psychopharmacology, adolescent mental health and cyberbullying. I have also won several travel grants and awards to speak at multiple national and international conferences.

I hold the following accreditations and memberships:

  • General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register for General Psychiatry
  • Member of the Alicia Koplowitz Scientific Committee in Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • Member of the Spanish Society of Psychiatry (SEP)
  • Member of the Galician Association of Psychiatry (AGP), Spain
  • Affiliate Member of the Royal College of Psychiatry (RCP)
  • Member of the British Medical Association

My personal interests

I have professional research experience in cyber-bullying and traditional bullying and take a great personal interest in the issues with online environments. Please see here for some of my recent thoughts about the matter, published in the press.

I have a personal interest in lowering the stigma of mental health issues. I am passionate about educating people and patients alike about the legitimacy of mental health issues. Educating people is the best way to combat a lack of knowledge about mental health, which ultimately lowers prejudice.

I love being outside, particularly by the seaside and in the sea. I come from a town on the Atlantic coast, where the ocean is deeply rooted in our culture. There is something special about being by the ocean, listening to the waves’ constant sound against the rocks. It brings me real peace and great memories.

I speak Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and English.

Patient Stories

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