16 Mar Exeter Living: Q&A
Michael Acton-Coles is Clinical Director of the Acton-Coles Psychology & Counselling Clinics which has rooms in Exeter, Torbay, 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. I love wine, gin, and scotch…
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.
This article appeared in Exeter Living magazine in 2014