P Michael Acton-Coles B.Ed., M.Ed. (Psych.) Hons., M.A.C. Psych., P.D. C. Psych.
020 7559 9855
I do more than listen when you present to me with anxiety, relationship issues, depression, bipolar disorder or another mental health issue. I have an innate ability to hear what underlies your issues and will work hard to get at the core of what is going on.
More often than not, people stay in a place that does not work for them way beyond what is good and healthy. At times of feeling stuck, shut-down or in a state of crisis and panic they would benefit from a safe and supportive place to find and make a change for the better. However, when we are considering getting help we are, at times, not fully aware of what ails us; that is OK.
Whether you are seeking help individually, or as a couple or family, I will help you to reflect and really clarify where you are now, work with you on your safety and help change what does not work for you. We can do this together by weighing up where you are, overcoming any safety fears that help to keep you "stuck" and finding ways of working towards what success is for you.
I cater for people from all walks of life and in all circumstances, providing therapy as and where needed, including (but not limited to) my rooms in Exeter.
I have worked with couples, families and individuals for over 20 years and I am also a supervisor.
Through the course of my work with the NHS and voluntary and private sectors, I have developed a deep understanding of the complex issues that can cause problems in everyday life including depression, anxiety, stress and grief as well as trauma and more specific unique life events (go to www.acclinics.com for more in-depth information). I am dedicated to helping people to the best of my ability, within my areas of competence, and if I cannot help you then I will do the utmost to find the best person who can.
During the past two decades, I have aimed at taking the guesswork out of getting help for people. All who work with me or are within my referral system are appropriately qualified and with the experience and confidence to help you move, get unstuck and resolve your issues. I follow the British Psychological Society's ethical guidelines and guidelines on good practice, and work alongside NICE guidelines for effective practice.
I have worked with people in need from a very young age. Since that time, I have accumulated many academic degrees, learnt immensely from those who have come to me for help and have undergone extensive training in therapeutic disciplines. These approaches include applied clinical and counselling psychology; CBT (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy); psychoanalysis and psychodynamic, Jungian, Gestalt and logo therapies in addition to more contemporary and holistic forms of therapeutic alliance, such as mindfulness.
*Landline numbers are forwarded to mobile numbers out of hours. We will return your enquiry within 24 hours.
Training, qualifications & experience
I completed my Master's degree with psychological honours and, at 29, became a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
My first clinical job was at the Dundee Royal Infirmary where I worked for two years in a Chronic Pain Outpatients' Department working with individuals, couples and families.
I then moved to Sussex to work and research alongside Dr Mick Burton and Professor Mic Cooper on psychodynamic and family therapy. After two years of study and research, I achieved my Master’s in Counselling Psychology and worked within the NHS in the drug dependency unit, with the Young People's Clinic and with Relate’s couples' counselling programmes in addition to counselling HIV and AIDS patients for a charitable organisation.
At 35, I was accepted for a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at the London City University. I continued my practice in couple’s therapy and further focused on various aspects of client help (go to www.acclinics.com to see the full range of my experience).
I was asked by The London Institute to set up a private practice at their London Facility because of my background in families, couples and substance abuse; identity issues; life crisis and gender dysphoria (transsexuals) as well as my work and research with lesbian, gay and bisexual issues.
In 2004, I decided to take a sabbatical to work and travel in America and Australia. During this time I worked researching suicide prevalence and prevention and also worked with shamanism and alongside native people.
With an opportunity to continue my academic and experiential development, I returned to the UK to complete my doctoral studies and to also set up a practice in Devon, close to my daughter and grandchildren. I continue to split my time between here; my London practice, based in Earl's Court, Fulham; my clinic in Miami Florida and my research and commitments in the USA and Australia.
I successfully work with individuals, couples and families and use my intuition, drawing upon techniques and theoretical underpinnings drawn from CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy); psychodynamic therapy; systemic therapy (family); motivational interviewing and Gestalt. All my work is enveloped by Rogerian core values of empowerment and the importance of the therapeutic integrative relationship.
I am always more than happy to talk to you about where you are at before you book a session. I am committed to ensuring you get appropriate help, even if it is not within my own service provision. Just email email@example.com or call me and I will get back to you!
Areas of Work:
- Mood Issues
- Low Mood
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Gender Dysphoria
- Gay, Bisexual and Lesbian Affirmative Therapy
- Sexual Abuse Resolution
- Sexual Issues
- Addiction, Fear & Loss
- Eating Disorders
- Substance Misuse
- Family & Relationships
- Parental Issues & Family Work
- Relationship Issues
- Relationship Resolution
- Young People's Issues
- Other Issues & Services
- PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Pain Management & Disability
- Not Certain of my Issues
I have also trained in the following areas:
- Systemic Family Therapy
- Relate Couple Therapy
- Existential Death Anxiety
- Parent Detachment
- Suicide Prevention
- Young Person's Trauma
- Drug & Alcohol Abuse
- Transsexuality (pre- and post-op)
- Rape & Sexual Abuse
- Adoption Crisis
- Critical Psychiatry
- School & University Counselling Programmes
- Institutional Management
- Organisational Management
- Supervision Training
- Scientist Practitioner Model
- Health Practice
- Parental Guidance
- Pain & Disability Management
- Eating Disorders (including Obesity)
- DSM-5 Analysis
- ICD-10 Analysis
- Good Practise Ethics
- Business Ethics
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Anger management
- Anorexia nervosa
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Asperger's syndrome
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Binge-eating disorder
- Bipolar disorder/Manic depression
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Carer support
- Child related issues
- Chronic fatigue syndrome/ME
- Dependent personality disorder
- Domestic violence
- Drug abuse
- Eating disorders
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Gender dysphoria
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Internet addiction
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Panic disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
- Physical abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Relationship issues
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Separation and divorce
- Sex addiction
- Sex problems
- Sexual abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Work-related stress
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Transexual (pre and post-op, and discovery journeys without surgical selections).
Sometimes we are not really sure of where we are, or what names there are for our issues, and more often than not our situation becomes a big jumbled mess of things. This is quite normal and expected when we get into a difficult life position. We don't necessarily have to have a name for all we are feeling and experiencing and that is OK. We can work together on finding this out.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Behavioural therapy
- Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
- Cognitive and behavioural therapies
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Cognitive therapy
- Couples counselling
- Existential therapy
- Family/systemic therapy
- Gestalt therapy
- Group therapy
- Humanistic therapies
- Interpersonal therapy
- Jungian therapy
- Other therapies
- Person-centred therapy
£120.00 (Less agreed financial assistance if required)
1st assessment session full fee.
£200.00 (Less agreed financial assistance if required)
1sr assessment session full fee.
Formulation Report Writing
From December 1st 2015, our financial assistance provision will be set at the following levels:
Individuals Up to £60 funding*
Couples: Up to £60 funding*
Families: Up to £100 funding*
If you are in need of financial assistance to access our service we will endeavour to help. However, our funding pot is limited, so we urge you to explore other avenues (e.g. friends and family) before requesting assistance.
Should you still need financial assistance, please consider how much you could contribute. The funding levels above are maximum allowances and even taking £5 less will help us to fund as many people as possible.
Having worked in a psychiatric hospital, as an extra-curricular activity while a teenager at my senior school, I was surprised to return to the field after having become a teacher for eight years. I re-found my passion, interest and vocation in psychological and counselling therapies. I saw a growing need for my clients to have more flexibility in their type of therapeutic approach and so I further qualified in relationship/couple therapy and expanded my experience and knowledge throughout my years of practice as I still do today. I have a bug for keeping on top of techniques and skills to add to my helping toolbox as I also have for taking on my professional responsibility to do well for those that seek my help (acclinics.com has the full story of my journey and experiences).
I offer both traditional, face-to-face counselling and, additionally, I offer ways to access therapy from the convenience of your own home or office desk, or even the beach or park bench. This includes counselling by email, phone and video calls (Skype). I encouraged our adoption of this modern approach to suit my clients' 21st century lifestyles, dominated as they are by busy families, business travel, public profile commitments, etc. In addition, I have also found this therapeutic vehicle truly helpful to those who want to find a therapist but do not feel able to physically go to an address due to disability, fear, being uncomfortable with appearing in person or any other reason that makes multimedia the best choice for accessing help. I started doing telephone counselling about 15-20 years ago with people in the public eye, while in London, and because my clients felt it was so helpful I extended and redesigned the platform for accessing my team and I remotely, and it works really effectively.
CUTTING TO THE CHASE & GETTING PEOPLE UNSTUCK - HERALD EXPRESS
This Q & A interview was adapted for use in the Herald Express, Torquay (Nov 2013)
Michael Acton-Coles is Clinical Director of the Acton-Coles Psychology & Counselling Clinics which has rooms in Torbay, Exeter, London and Miami
Q What is your practice all about?
A We’re about helping people to get unstuck and mend. We look at people not just in terms of their issues, but also holistically within the context of family, friends and work.
We’ve a good team with amazing experience and knowledge; we emphasise safe practice with clinical supervision for everybody including myself. We make sure we’re using the most effective therapy, and treat everyone as an individual.
We also work with couples in relationships. Both people don’t have to come along; we can work with just one person. We also work with families. We might work with somebody individually for a while and then introduce their family, partner or child for a period of time to see what’s going on. That’s quite unusual; you don’t find many people who can do that.
Q When did you start working remotely with patients?
A I was seeing quite a few A-listers in London. They had some significant problems but couldn’t routinely get to my rooms, so I was doing telephone work 15 years ago. Over the years, remote therapy has progressed into video conferencing with Skype and email.
I thought I would have to keep going to London to see patients but not at all. A lot of the people I see via Skype are professionals, including lawyers, actors and people in the pop world. Because they’re very busy, they can’t spend time getting to my rooms and back. So they cut to the chase and see me from their desk, the airport or their armchair at home. It’s very effective, more so than I ever imagined.
Q So where are you based?
A Everywhere is the quick answer. But if you want to visit us in rooms then in Torbay we are just behind Torquay Station and the Grand Hotel in Walnut Road, Chelston. We also have rooms in Southernhay, Exeter; London and Miami. I have friends and family in America and my partner is there, so I travel there and back regularly. I’m also in London periodically, but my main base is Torbay and Exeter.
Q Why are you expanding into Exeter?
A Exeter has got a nice cross-section of people and services many other areas. Some patients travel some way to see me in Torbay, so having a central office in Exeter will help that. I have a lot of enquiries from North Devon and my London patients usually don’t mind travelling by train and returning the same day after an intensive piece of work. Intensive therapy is something else I do, travelling to work with a family, individual or couple for a day or two.
Q What’s unique about you as a practitioner?
A I started off working in a children’s ward in the psychiatric hospital as part of my school work, aged 13. I then went off to teach before coming back to counselling psychology, so my career has taken a 360 degree turn.
I’m an all-rounder with a lot of experience under my belt. I’ve worked in institutions and hospitals, both public and private. I really enjoy and believe in what I do which has made me go on to train in many different aspects of therapy and become multi-dimensional. When looking at somebody and their issues, I’m drawing upon a toolbox of skills and evidence-based practise.
My patients tell me that my strength is my honesty; not being wishy-washy but cutting to the chase and getting in there with my sleeves rolled up, helping them shift. My biggest reward is when I see somebody shift; that can be amazing and it’s why I do my job.
Q What is your work philosophy?
A Nothing is impossible. Where there’s a way, we’ll find it, and if there’s a rock we’ll find our way around it. Most people come to me not knowing what their problem is, and sometimes they might think they know what it is but it could be something quite different. So there’s a lot of formulating and exploring.
I’m ethical, drawing upon a wide body of evidence to inform my practise, and I’m really there for the people accessing my help.
I also offer funding help. We ask people to be honest and only use as much money as they need, and we ask them to tell us if their circumstances change and they don’t need funding anymore or, if they win the Lottery, to send us a big, fat cheque.
What is the biggest problem you’re faced with?
A When people get lost in the medical system. They have a complicated grief, a relationship bust-up, they lose somebody close to them or their child gets hurt. GPs will generally prescribe psychiatric drugs and the by-products of the drugs mask the original problem. The biggest problem I face is peeling back the onion, finding out which are symptoms of their situation and which are added symptoms because of their use of psychiatric medication, and getting to the guts of what’s going on. Sometimes that can be really masked.
Q If you had one thing to say to someone out there who’s suffering, what would it be?
You don’t have to do it alone, and there really is a way to climb out of what you’re in. Find the right time to get unstuck and contact us, or somebody like us who is qualified and will really look at where you are before starting any treatment with you. In the right environment and with the right support you can do it.
University of Stirling, University of Dundee, Sussex University, City University of London, UWE
NHS – 1994-2004
Voluntary Sector Agencies – 1996-2012
Acton-Coles Psychology & Counselling Clinics – 1996 to present
My new book: 'Narcissism & Co-Dependency: Both Sides of the Coin', is available now, as a hard copy (from Amazon) or digital eBook (from iTunes/iBooks). Part of the 'At the Chalkface of Therapy' series, it is an essential contribution to the field of NPD and to the oft-ignored victims of narcissism - the codependent.
Narcissism & Co-Dependency: Both Sides of the Coin is:
- Compassionately grounded in science.
- Embedded in my 20 plus years of counselling experience.
- An easy but powerful read.
- A valuable resource for recognising and UNDERSTANDING narcissism.
- A practical guide to UNHOOKING and RECOVERING from a relationship with a narcissist
EXETER MEDIA ARTICLES
MICHAEL ACTON-COLES - EXETER LIVING
This Q & A interview was adapted for use in Exeter Living magazine (Mar 2014)
Michael Acton-Coles is Clinical Director of the Acton-Coles Psychology & Counselling Clinics which has rooms in Torbay, Exeter, London and Miami
Q Where do you call home and what makes it special?
A I have three homes: Wexford in Ireland, where I’m from; my home in Devon, where my children live and Miami, where my partner is.
Q What’s the best thing about Exeter?
A It’s vibrant, cosmopolitan, eclectic and a fantastic hub for a really wide area.
Q Where is your favourite place in Exeter and why?
A The Côte Restaurant because the service there is extraordinary, there’s a fantastically beautiful view of Cathedral Square and it’s wonderful for people-watching. I always reserve a window seat downstairs.
Q Tell us briefly about your work, what you now offer in Exeter and where, and why you chose Exeter.
A I’m a psychologist and therapist and I started in the psychiatric field at 13 years of age. I work with families, individuals and couples in anything from high trauma, which is severe shock, stress and depression, to pretty much everyday stuff. I do a lot of relationship work and a lot of family unsticking where there are problems, maybe due to a divorce, a death or a child’s or adult’s substance misuse.
I am also part of a couple of non-profit charities.
Exeter has a need for the service I give. I’ve had great success in Torbay and I was getting more and more referrals from people in Exeter so I thought I should naturally branch into Exeter too. I love visiting the City so why not work there?
The clinic is in Southernhay Crescent, a beautiful, vibrant spot and very close to the station. It’s a nice area, and very private. The clinic itself is very airy and spacious.
Q What are the best and worst parts of your job?
A The rewards are amazing when you see someone click, or or to put two and two together and make four. It’s really nice walking along somebody’s journey with them and helping them adjust or tweaking a few things to really make a difference.
The worst part of my job is seeing how desperate families, individuals and couples need so much help in tackling something they could have done five, ten or twenty years ago. A lot of people leave it until it’s too late.
I can’t emphasise enough that if something doesn’t seem to be working then it’s probably not, and if it involves mental or emotional stuff you generally can’t fix it alone.
Q How do you relax?
A I walk a lot; I love nature and being near water. I love cooking.
Q Where do you enjoy eating out locally and why?
A Again, the Côte Restaurant. The staff are fantastic; second-to-none. They wouldn’t look out of place in an up-market place in Paris or London.
Q Favourite local shops?
A Any of the independents; I really like seeing a shop still looking like a shop, especially the men’s store on the Square and a lot of the kitchenware shops and things like that.
I also like a couple of the major stores like John Lewis and Lakeland.
Q What’s your guilty pleasure?
A That would be Chinese massage. I played a lot of sports in my lifetime and Chinese massage is the only thing that really gets to me. That and reflexology.
Q What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, and by whom?
A Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; my gran.
Q Surprise us …
A I trained to be a priest as a teenager before going into teaching. It’s funny because I’ve come back to helping people, only in a professional rather than a pastoral sense. I’ve also studied Shamanism and ventured into the Australian Outback.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
To check availability, please contact me by email, telephone or Skype.
Types of client
|Employee Assistance Programme|
Supervision & training
Therapy can be extremely rewarding and extremely challenging.View supervision profile