Michael Acton-Coles has over two decades of clinical and counselling experience with individuals, couples and families; reputable academic and professional qualifications and an ongoing commitment to professional development.
Whether you are looking for face-to-face help in our rooms in London, Miami, Exeter or Torbay, or remote therapy via Skype, email or telephone, Michael Acton-Coles and his colleagues can give you the assurance of a thorough, effective and confidential service.
“I have worked with people in need from the age of 13 (see Michael’s Background). Since that time, I have completed extensive training in a variety of therapeutic disciplines and accumulated many academic degrees. My therapeutic tool bag, which I call upon, as an adjunct to counselling, to effectively help people who work with me, includes systemic/family therapy; Relate couples therapy; young people’s therapy; CBT; psychodynamic therapy; psychoanalysis and regression and hypnotherapy . All of our work is centred in Rogerian principles of respect for people in need.”
Michael and his team are committed to taking the guesswork out of getting help. If you feel ‘stuck’ and need to find a therapist who can move you forwards to a better future, they will usually be able to bring some light to the issues that are holding you back. If they cannot help, their policy is to find you someone else who can.
The worst thing you can do is to do nothing about your issues!
If you call our clinic, either Michael or a carefully selected colleague will talk to you in confidence and with no obligation. If you decide to continue we will do a thorough assessment over a number of sessions to ensure we are working in the right direction. We are committed to providing financial assistance to those who need support in paying their fees.
Born in England and brought up in Eire and England, Michael started his career in psychology early. Between the ages of 13 and 16, he worked for one day a week in the children’s ward of a psychiatric hospital, an extra-curricular activity with his school that was originally meant to be for just six months. As well as getting a bus pass and a free meal, this sent Michael on a journey of self-discovery. After contracting meningitis at 16 and nearly dying, he left home at 17 and went on to become a teacher; his first teaching post was in a prison in Kent.
Travelling became a strong element in Michael’s life – Saudi Arabia, The UAE, Bahrain, The USA, France and Australia gave him teaching contracts which enabled him to complete his Master’s degree with psychological honours. At 27 he became a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
His first clinical job was at the Dundee Royal Infirmary where he worked for two years in a Chronic Pain Outpatients’ Department. During this time he was once held at gunpoint while walking home and held captive for a number of hours. Facing death, his listening skills and prayers eventually secured his release (later the man was arrested and charged, having also shot at police). This experience changed Michael: he suffered from PTSD and became involved with a psychotherapist who introduced him to working in a psychodynamic way.
He left Dundee and moved to Sussex to work and research alongside Dr. Mick Burton and Professor Mic Cooper on psychodynamic therapy. After two years he achieved his master’s in Counselling Psychology and worked within the NHS at both the outpatients’ psychology department and drug dependency unit, as well as counselling patients with HIV and AIDS for charitable organisations.
At 35, he applied for a doctorate in Counselling Psychology at the London City University – one of thousands of applicants for 23 places. Not expecting to get a place, he also applied to complete a Family Law degree and was accepted into the top three law colleges in the UK.
Then he received a letter congratulating him on his place at London City University, and was also asked, by The London Institute, to set up a private practice in their London Clinic. This was due to his work background in substance abuse, identity issues, life crisis and gender dysphoria; his work and research into chronic pain and disability and also his work with the issues reported by people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
In 2004, Michael took a sabbatical to work and travel in America and Australia, where he researched suicide prevalence and prevention. Throughout his life journey he has studied many philosophical areas and has an interest in philanthropy, Shamanism and philosophy.
Michael also offers an intensive therapeutic service for families which takes him to wherever he is needed. The ongoing development of this service is one of Michael’s main areas of focus at present as, time and time again, he finds he is helping to free up members of a family to find the way to reparation.
Michael Acton-Coles, B.Ed., M.Ed. (Psych.) Hons., M.A.C. Psych., P.D. C. Psych.
Michael Acton-Coles is a counsellor and therapist, counselling supervisor and author of a series of books focusing on the cutting edge of therapy where reported or proposed evidence-based best practice meets the tough and unpredictable world of private clinical therapy (works are available on Amazon, Apple iTunes and acclinics.com). Michael also provides comment and insight for the media (see Michael’s radio work here) and for other authors looking for an experiential insight into counselling ‘at the chalkface.’ Michael’s articles (listed below) can also be accessed here.
As a therapist, Michael works with individuals, couples and families and is known for his willingness to roll up his sleeves and put his heart into getting to the core of his patients’ issues; he is then able to guide them assuredly through to resolution and getting unstuck. Michael prefers to take a ‘toolbox’ approach to therapy, applying different models and methods depending upon what is efficacious for the patient, couple or family and their situation at the time. Michael also provides counselling supervision and guidance to media and authors.
Books & Collaborations
Narcissism and Co-Dependency: Both Sides of the Coin by Michael Acton-Coles (FeedARead.com Publishing, 2015) – AVAILABLE in iBooks format (2016). Book 1 of the ‘From the Chalkface’ series.
Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise by Elizabeth F. Schwartz, 2016) – Cameo from Michael Acton-Coles. AVAILABLE on Amazon (The New Press, 2016)
Michael is currently working on the next three books of the ‘From the Chalkface’ series, including:
Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Medical and Pastoral Gatekeeping: Assessment and Formulation to help lessen ineffective directives in treatment and support provision
Gender Dysphoria Spectrum: Truth and Better Practice to help inform and, where necessary, reform national and global policies (including World Health Organisation directives) relating to the understanding of and treatment for people with gender-related issues
Education & Experience
Psychology & Counselling
Voluntary Sector Agencies
1992 – 2012 (20 years)
Psychology & Counselling
1998 – 2004 (6 years)
Relationship Therapy. Couples and Families.
NHS Outpatients Department
1994 – 2004 (10 years)
All categories of trauma, pain management and disablement, including PTSD, physical pain management, sexual abuse, family trauma, young people’s issues (10-21 years), oncology support, HIV/AIDS support, pre- and post- HIV testing support, parenting adaptation and eating disorders management (including obesity).
Psychology & Counselling
Drug & Alcohol Dependency Units
1994 – 2001 (7 years)
Alcohol dependency and drugs (prescription and recreational). Worked in Brighton and Worthing Drug and Dependency Unit, 1997-2001.
NHS Outpatients Pain & Disability Management Department
1994 – 1996 (2 years) Dundee, Scotland. DRI
Severe to moderate impact chronic pain and disability management. Part of pain team consisting of an anesthesiologist, physical therapist, nurses (including Macmillan nurses), occupational therapists and psychologists (including neuropsychologists).
Various Schools and Universities
1985 – 1994 (9 years) UK, Middle East, Australia.
English, Maths and Computer Studies. Developed curricula for courses and testing programs including test design and form. Developed Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) laboratories and design function. Lead Teacher at several posts.
Support Nursing Staff
Darenth Park Psychiatric Hospital
1975 – 1979 (4 years) Kent, England
From 12-16 years as Support Nurse in the Children’s ward. Helped with physical and social care needs for patients with organic or socialised severe mental health disorder aged 5-21 years.
City University of London
Doctorial Studies, Counselling Psychology
Master’s degree, Counselling Psychology
The University of Dundee
Master of Education (M.Ed.), Psychology (Hons)
The University of Stirling
Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)
Counselling Psychology Supervision Training
City University of London
Doctorial Studies, Counselling Psychology Supervision,
Group Supervision, Milanian Systemics
Dundee Royal Infirmiary
Department of Clinical Psychology, Supervision Training
Continuous Professional Development and Post-qualification Training
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (with Christine Padesky)
Cognitive Analytical Therapy
Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Eating Disorders (including Obesity), Self Harm and Addictions (1996-2003)
Existential Death Anxiety
Gestalt Techniques and Role Play
Good Practice Ethics
Grief and Complicated Grief
Lacanian Interpretation of Psychoanalysis
Pain & Disability Management
Psychodynamic Therapeutic Assistance with Internal Governance
Rape & Sexual Abuse
RELATE Couples and Systemic Counselling (1999-2003)
School & University Counselling Programmes
Scientist Practitioner Model, Evidence eBased Practice
Substance and Alcohol Abuse: Motivation for and Cycle of Change (1996)
Suicide Prevention & Completed Suicide Survivors
Systemic Family Therapy
Transactional Analysis Tools, Insights and Implementation
Transsexuality (pre- and post-op)
Young Person’s Trauma
Articles & Publications
Cutting to the Chase and Getting People Unstuck (Herald Express)
Family Lost (Book Chapter)
Reconnect: The Changing Face of Therapy (Reconnect Magazine)
Scared You’re Drinking Too Much? (Counselling Directory)
The Death of the Narcissist (Book Chapter)
Unpicking the Narcissist’s Attack: A Codependent’s Guide (LinkedIn Pulse)
What Does Success Mean to You? (Flybe Business Magazine)