Helen Acton MBACP, UKCP-reg

Helen Acton MBACP, UKCP-reg

Ross Street


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Ross Street


About me

People from all walks of life come to see me for many different reasons; you may be in crisis or you may simply wish to explore some aspect of your experience more deeply. Either way, it is a positive and courageous decision to make. Before you begin, you may have many questions about what therapy and counselling are like and how they can help. Below you will find a little information about the therapy and counselling I offer. The relationship between you and your therapist is at the very heart of successful therapy, so it's important that you choose someone who is right for you, whom you feel you will be able to relate to and engage with.

Therapy is a chance to explore, reflect and be heard

Therapy or counselling (most people use the words fairly interchangeably) with me is a shared undertaking to make sense of your experience. I think of myself as a companion and facilitator in your exploration, and together we will try to work towards a deep understanding of your experience and look at the situation from different perspectives and new angles. I bring energy, warmth, sensitivity and frankness to my client relationships and provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment; sometimes just hearing yourself say out loud the things you have been feeling can bring relief and clarity. I won't give you advice or tell you what to do; I believe that you are ultimately the expert on your own life. Therapy with me is first and foremost a safe and confidential space in which to share and stay with how you are feeling, and be heard.

Therapy can be challenging

The way I work is concerned with exploring the choices we make in our lives, the meanings we ascribe to aspects of our world, and the ways in which we can become stuck with our ways of being. Together we will look at your personal value systems and consider how they inform the way you live your life; you may begin to challenge your feelings and the assumptions you make about your life, and gain some clarity about where you are, and where you want to be. Therapy is an opportunity to explore how you relate to the people in your life and to the experiences you have; a space in which to reflect upon the decisions you are making and the possibilities which may lie ahead.

Therapy is an opportunity to grow

We all have parts of ourselves that we would rather not know or that we try to ignore. This can be for any number of reasons, but ironically it is often these parts that we most need to come to terms with if we want to grow and develop. Therapy helps us to do this by acting like a mirror. I will hold up the mirror in such a way that you may see something new in your reflection. As you examine your reflection and explore these previously ‘unknown’ parts of yourself, you may begin to see yourself differently and more completely. You may begin to accept and welcome those aspects of yourself that are usually judged or exiled by yourself or others. Together we will make use of the dynamics between us in our relationship to explore how you are experienced by others and this feedback can be a powerful tool for self-development. Therapy is a collaborative process and, crucially, the more you put into your therapy or counselling, the more you will get out of it and benefit from this unique investment in yourself.

"The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

My approach to therapy

My approach to therapy is called existential-phenomenological, which is a lot more down-to-earth than it sounds! It means that the therapy has its roots in philosophy, and has at its core an exploration of how you are living your life right now; I will not shoehorn you into any theoretical category or model, and together we will focus on whatever emerges as important for you. Therapy is different with every client and grows into something unique as the relationship develops; it is this relationship, based on trust, which provides the right conditions for change. My intention as a therapist is to be as present as possible in order to explore carefully the challenges my clients are living with.

Though therapy with me is primarily existential-phenomenological, I also have training in CBT and integrative therapy, including psychodynamic and person-centred models, and I draw on these when I feel they may be helpful to my clients. I also have a particular interest in Attachment Theory and the effect that early experiences can have upon our adult relationships.

"One of the most valuable things about therapy is that it's a place where you don't have to pretend you're on top of the world and where happiness is not held out as the ultimate mark of a successful life. This is a wonderful liberation. For it's precisely sunny-side-up fascism that forces those of us who walk the black dog into lonely invisibility. Obligatory upbeatness won't acknowledge the presence of anger, emptiness or despair." Giles Fraser


Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to book an initial no-obligation appointment.  The initial session is an opportunity for us to discuss what bring you to counselling or therapy, what you’d like to get out of the sessions, and whether if feels right for us to work together.

Training, qualifications & experience

- Registered Member of the UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy)
- Registered Member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (MBACP)
- Member of the Society for Existential Analysis

I am bound by and adhere to the BACP’s Ethical Framework; I also commit to and maintain the UKCP's Ethical Principles & Code of Professional Conduct.

I trained at the School of Psychotherapy & Counselling Psychology at Regent’s College, London, where I gained the following qualifications leading to full accreditation:
- Foundation Certificate in Psychotherapy & Counselling
- MA in Psychotherapy & Counselling
- Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy.

Though my approach to therapy is primarily existential-phenomenological, I also have training in CBT and integrative therapy, including psychodynamic and person-centred models, and I draw on these when I feel they may be helpful to my clients.

In addition to my private practice I am the College Counsellor at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, a post I have held since 2010. I have also worked for the Terrence Higgins Trust, the Claremont Psychotherapy Service, the Student Counselling Service at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital. Though I see clients from all walks of life, I have particular experience of working with sexual minority clients, students, actors, people working in the arts, and those affected by HIV & Aids.

My paper "I Am What I Am? - Existentialism & Homosexuality" was published by the Journal for Existential Analysis in July 2010.

My paper "Freedom Captured by the Green-Eyed Monster: Some Existential Perspectives on Romantic Jealousy" was published by the Journal for Existential Analysis in January 2010.

Member organisations


Accredited register membership

Other areas of counselling I deal with

- depression
- anxiety
- a sense of being stuck
- general feelings of unease
- a general sense of dissatisfaction
- a lack of purpose
- difficulty making decisions
- dealing with dilemmas
- loss of meaning
- loss of identity
- work issues
- spiritual crisis
- existential crisis
- issues around self-worth and self-esteem
- sexual, physical and emotional abuse survival
- mid-life crisis
- separation and divorce
- parenthood
- bereavement and loss
- redundancy
- retirement
- feelings of loneliness and isolation
- problems with intimacy and sex
- problems connecting with friends and family
- commitment issues
- uncertainty regarding a relationship’s future
- grief over the loss of a relationship
- coming out
- identity issues
- gay lifestyle issues
- gay parenting issues
- sex "addiction" and compulsive sexual behaviour
- living with HIV
- negotiated non-monogamy
- transgender issues


Individuals: £70 per session

All sessions last 50 minutes.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to book an initial no-obligation appointment. The initial session is an opportunity for us to spend a little time deciding if we feel comfortable with each other and would like to work together.

Further information

Therapy with gay and lesbian clients is, of course, in a general sense no different from that with heterosexual clients; it is the exploration of a person's experience which is always unique to them, whatever their sexual orientation. Nevertheless some gay, lesbian and bisexual clients feel more comfortable knowing that their therapist has a particular understanding and familiarity with the gay community and the gay-specific issues with which they may be faced.

I have spent many years working with people of all sexual orientations; I previously worked as a counsellor at the Terrence Higgins Trust; and I am deeply committed to the principles of a gay affirmative therapy.

I have worked - and currently work - with many clients who have gender dysphoria issues, and I have undertaken specialist training in working with gender identity, run by Pink Therapy. You may be in the very earliest stages of exploring your feelings and experiences around gender, you may find yourself at one of various stages of transition, or you may have completed a full transition and gender reassignment. Either way, I will meet you where you are, without any agenda or assumptions about what may be right for you.

Unlike some of the other professionals you may encounter along the way, I am not a gate-keeper, and as such am able to provide a safe and supportive relationship in which you will find the time and space to explore your experience of gender in a meaningful way, at your own pace, which may over time help you to clarify where you are with it and where you want to go.

Some of the issues with which I work include:
- coming out
- identity issues
- gay lifestyle issues
- gay parenting issues
- sex 'addiction' and compulsive sexual behaviour
- living with HIV
- sexual, physical and emotional abuse survival
- relationship issues
- negotiated non-monogamy
- transgender issues

Maps & Directions

Cambridge, CB1 3BS

Type of session

Online counselling: No
Telephone counselling: No
Face to face counselling: Yes

Practical details

Sign language: Unspecified
Other languages: None

Types of client

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