Maria Garcia

Maria Garcia

Clinical Psychologist

Adults (over 18 years)

I'm Maria Garcia, a Clinical Psychologist with 11 years of experience. I specialise in helping adults and their families manage and treat addiction with evidence-based techniques and a holistic approach.

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Addictions
Alcohol addiction
Behavioural addictions
Sex addiction
Substance (drug) addiction

Maria Garcia

Clinical Psychologist

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tz

My name is Maria Garcia, and I’m a Clinical Psychologist. I have over a decade of experience helping adults with a range of mental health issues, including addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. I’m registered with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council), BPS (British Psychological Association), and BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy).

I completed my professional training in Psychology in 2012, followed by a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. Additionally, I have completed specialist training in addictions, eating disorders and trauma.

I specialise in treating addiction using evidence-based techniques and a holistic, personalised approach. As well as working with individuals, I support families and loved ones of those affected by addiction.

My approach is founded on empathy, and I consider my relationship with you to be the foundation of the therapeutic journey. I believe trust and respect are the base for healing, growth and change, and that each person is unique, with their own perspective, way of experiencing the world, and the potential to overcome challenges.

It’s important to me that I give you agency throughout your treatment. This means giving you the space to decide how you want to move forward, inviting you to take ownership of the process while I support you along the way. I have found empowering people in this way has been much more effective in the long run.

Areas of expertise

Addiction

I have over a decade of experience helping people with addiction. I work with individuals as well as partners, families and close friends supporting them. I use a range of strategies to treat addiction, from talking therapies to lifestyle approaches. Some of the therapies I'm trained in include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, systemic therapy, psychodynamic therapy, motivational interviewing and the Minnesota Model. Together, we’ll work to find a treatment plan that suits you best.

Any of us can become addicted to substances like alcohol, drugs or prescription medication. Or to certain behaviours like gambling, shopping or even relationships. I consider addiction to be a spectrum - where some people may be able to function while engaging in addictive behaviours. For others, addiction can start to become extremely damaging - both to themselves and to those around them. In these cases, seeking professional help is the best approach

There is evidence to suggest that some people are more prone to addictions because of personality traits or genetics. However, regardless of our background, addictions can affect us all similarly. With the right support and tools, it is possible to live a life beyond addiction. 

After recovering from addiction, I’ve witnessed people make incredible transformations:

  • Rebuild relationships with themselves and others.
  • Find joy in things they had lost enthusiasm for.
  • Find purpose and motivation to do things again, or find new things to feel excited about.
  • Starting families or reconnecting with family members and old friends

Addiction touches every aspect of someone’s life - and so, too, does recovery.

Treating Addiction

People who are struggling with addictive behaviours often find themselves starting to lose control. This is one of the most difficult aspects to accept.

I always work to reduce the stigma and shame around addiction. When someone reaches out to me for help, I meet them where they are, without judgment or expectation. We work together to find the best way forward. There are several approaches we can take for this:

  • I can support people beyond traditional approaches, such as treating you in your regular home environment, without necessarily disrupting your daily routine.
  • We can take an abstinence approach or explore cutting down gradually.
  • I can support people who want to be treated in residential care, and in these cases, other mental health professionals, such as a psychiatrists, are often involved.
  • I can also support those who are already in recovery, whether they are part of a fellowship programme or not.

The process will look a bit different for each person, depending on the starting point. I take a holistic look at your life, including work, relationships, family, diet, hobbies, and connection with yourself. From there, we see where we need to work. I encourage you to take an active role in your recovery and decide on what works best for you moving forward.

After the initial stage of treating the addiction and its symptoms, sustaining the recovery process is where the crucial work happens. The support of a therapist is invaluable here.

Supporting families and loved ones of those struggling with addiction 

When addiction affects someone, it doesn’t just touch their life—it impacts everyone who cares about them. If you’re supporting someone with addiction, you might not know the best way to go about it. Or you may feel you’re losing yourself in the process. It’s essential that you get the support you need during this challenging process. First, to look after yourself, and second, to be able to best look after the person you’re helping. Together, we’ll discuss the most sensitive way to navigate the situation.

Families often feel helpless, watching a loved one struggle with addiction. I guide families on how to support their loved one, while also taking care of their own emotional needs. Every family is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on your family's needs, I might suggest individual counselling for some members, couples therapy, or group sessions. We will work together to come up with a plan on how to move forward and involve your loved one struggling with addiction. These tailored plans make sure that everyone gets the right kind of support.

Talking things out can sometimes be tough, especially in stressful times. I run workshops and educational sessions to help you and your family communicate better, so everyone can express their needs and feelings. These meetings help reduce the loneliness and stigma often linked to addiction. It also helps to remind everyone that you’re in this together.

Relapse Prevention & Management

It's common to think of relapse as a setback or failure, but in reality, it's often part of the journey to recovery. Many people experience relapse, and it doesn't mean you've lost all progress—it's just a signal that we need to adjust our approach.

If a relapse does occur, I'm here to help you regain your footing without judgment. We'll look at it as a learning opportunity: What parts of our current strategy need tweaking? What additional support might make a difference? This approach helps us fine-tune your recovery plan and aims at rebuilding your confidence to move forward.

I use evidence-based strategies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other behavioural techniques, that are proven to help prevent relapse. Together, we'll develop a personalised plan that fits your unique situation. I'll equip you with tools to strengthen your resilience against relapse. My goal is to support you every step of the way, adapting our strategy to fit your changing needs.

My approach to treatment

When you reach out for help, I meet you exactly where you are, without imposing my views or judging your journey. In our work together, your voice is paramount. You define the goals, you set the pace, and together, we find the paths that lead to a healthier, more fulfilled you.

As a psychologist, my role is to provide support and guidance, teach you strategies, and help you find better ways to cope. But I can also help you find hope. Hope that change is possible and that therapy can bring about a life richer than before. I consider every person who walks into my room to be an equal, someone I can and want to learn from as we work together. 

I take an integrative approach to treatment, drawing on different evidence-based psychological models and techniques. Rather than prescribing, I like to give people agency and choice in the treatment process so that they can find their best way forward. Finally, trust is a huge part of what I do. I’m honoured that people trust me with their most sensitive issues, and I’m deeply committed to taking good care of every person I work with.

Your first consultation

It's normal to feel slightly anxious during your first consultation. Taking the first steps are a pivotal moment in the journey ahead. I aim to create a comfortable and welcoming environment by listening and taking the time to understand what you need and where you are in your journey. I’ll also explain how therapy works and encourage you to ask questions. I want you to feel empowered to make informed choices.

Our first session is an opportunity to get to know each other, build the foundations of trust and understand whether I’m a good fit for you. It's good to be prepared for a somewhat information-heavy first session. We'll do an assessment, outline your goals and objectives for therapy, and begin to develop a treatment plan. This is a collaborative process where I’ll invite you to play an active role.

I normally suggest starting with five to six sessions and then invite you to review our progress. This gives you the opportunity to voice any concerns and give feedback. Together, we can decide whether we want to make any changes and steer the therapy in a different direction.

Personalised treatment plans

Recovery touches everything, so we will look at every aspect of your life when creating your treatment plan. From your relationships to your daily routines, every part of your world deserves attention and care. These include your psychological makeup, past experiences, and your current goals and motivations. Your strengths and resources are especially important, as they play a crucial role in your path toward personal growth and change.

During our initial consultation, I'll ask you a series of questions designed to build a comprehensive picture of your needs. We'll consider key lifestyle elements that impact your mental health, such as: 

physical activity, diet, sleep patterns, stress management, and your connections with social and community networks. This holistic approach is particularly effective in preventing relapse and promoting lasting change.

My approach to treatment combines a range of approaches tailored to your needs. I incorporate different techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, systemic therapy, solution-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy. Together, we’ll work to find a treatment plan that suits you best.

We will continuously review and adjust your treatment plan as needed throughout your therapy journey. If beneficial, I may recommend involving other professionals, such as psychiatrists or dietitians. Rest assured, any collaborative decision will be made with your full consent and agreement.

Medication

As a psychologist, I don’t prescribe medication. If we recognise the potential benefits of medication during our discussions, I’ll recommend that you consult with a psychiatrist or general practitioner (GP). These professionals can assess whether medication can complement your therapeutic journey and prescribe it if required.

I’ve observed the positive impact that integrating medication with psychotherapy can have on an individual's treatment. However, I do not view medication as a quick fix. I believe that lasting change requires dedication and effort. With this in mind, medication can be helpful to enhance and facilitate this process.

Education & Training

I’m a Clinical Psychologist with over 11 years of clinical experience in both public and private settings. I am registered with the following professional bodies:

  • HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council)
  • BPS (British Psychological Association)
  • BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy).
  • Spanish Official Association of Psychologists (COP Madrid).

high-quality mental health care to individuals, couples and groups. I was also the Clinical Director for a mental health outpatient clinic in London called All Points North. Between 2018 and 2022, I served as Lead Therapist and, later, as Therapy Services Manager at Nightingale Hospital in London. In the latter role, I was responsible for the leadership, development, and operational management of psychological services. I have also held various therapist roles at Sweet Cavanagh, Priory Hospital Roehampton, and in the NHS (IAPT services) - all in London. 

I completed my professional training in Psychology in Spain. Then, I completed a Master's of Science in Clinical Psychology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy in the UK. I have also completed specialist training in addictions, eating disorders, and trauma.

Throughout my years of practice, I have had the privilege to be a part of many people’s recovery journey. Witnessing them overcome difficulties and transform their lives, often making a complete turnaround, is what makes my job worthwhile.

Beyond the evidence-based therapies that I’ve acquired in my years of training and clinical work, I believe the path to healing is multilayered. It requires a mind, body and soul approach. I support varied belief systems, and I want to make space within therapy for the wide scope of human experience, including beyond the physical.

Personal interests

I love travelling, listening to music, watching live performances, and doing yoga. I've also been a Latin rhythms dancer for over 15 years. Activities like dance and yoga are great for mental and physical health, I'm a big believer in engaging in activities like these to support your overall well-being.

Patient Stories

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