Michael Acton-Coles
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Michael Acton-Coles

michael acton-coles counselling fulham kensington hammersmith torbay torquay psychology miami
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.

Michael says:

“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.

Michael’s Background:

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.

Intensive Therapy

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.

Professional Resume:



acton-coles resume

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.

  • Qualified Therapist since 1992.
  • Assistant Clinical Psychologist 1994-1996. NHS hospital outpatients and inpatient, Dundee Royal Infirmiary
  • Worked in support of Waverly HIV/AIDS Trust and SACH HIV/AIDS Support Trust, 1994-2003.
  • Founder, Acton-Coles Psychology & Counselling in 1994 (Torbay, Exeter and London Kensington 1994-present).
  • Member, British Psychological Society (BPS) since 1994 (Graduate member since 1996).
  • Counsellor Student Services 1996-1998. Sussex University Medical Centre.
  • Counselling Psychologist 1996-2001. Royal Sussex Psychological Hospital Services.
  • Drug Dependency Units: Family support for clients, parents and relatives of substance abusers in various private and non-profit agencies, 1996-2010.
  • Young Persons’ Psychological Services provision NHS Morley Street Hospital Outpatient Services. Working with teenagers’ and children’ issues managing and anchoring parents, teachers, educational nurses, social workers and Child Protection Unit referrals, 1997-99.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Supervisor for The Gender Trust and spear-headed policymaking for safer and more effective client service provision (in 1998).
  • Counselling Psychologist since 1998.
  • Counselling Supervisor since 1998.
  • Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • Helped to establish The CLARE project, a transgender support group, UK.
  • Author of the counselling book, Narcissism & Co-Dependency: Both Sides of the Coin which is available on both Amazon (UK and US), in paperback form, and the Apple iTunes store, as an eBook.
  • Consultant to the media on counselling, therapy and various aspects of psychology.

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

Work Experience

Psychology & Counselling

Private practice

1993 – ongoing

Psychology & Counselling

Voluntary Sector Agencies

1992 – 2012 (20 years)

Various Agencies.

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.

University Education

City University of London

Doctorial Studies, Counselling Psychology


Sussex University

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.)


Supervision Training


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



Adoption Crisis


Business Ethics

Boundary Setting

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (with Christine Padesky)

Cognitive Analytical Therapy

Critical Psychiatry


Drug & Alcohol Abuse

DSM-IV Analysis

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

Health Practice

ICD-10 Analysis

Institutional Management

Lacanian Interpretation of Psychoanalysis


Organisational Management

Pain & Disability Management

Parent Detachment

Parental Guidance

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

Supervision Training

Systemic Family Therapy

Transactional Analysis Tools, Insights and Implementation

Transsexuality (pre- and post-op)

Young Person’s Trauma

Articles & Publications

Abuse and the Abused: Understanding the Journey Towards Safety and Health

Addicted to Injury: Why People Self-Harm

After the Affair: Picking up the Pieces after Betrayal

Anxiety: The Silent Killer!

Are you a Codependent? Six Key Questions

Are you a Doormat? Strong But Tired? Kick the Habit!

Are you Drinking Alone?

Are you Living with a Narcissist?

Are your Antidepressants Doing More Harm Than Good?

Bang, Whizz, Whoosh and Crackle: Sound Familiar?

Being in the Wrong Body: Feeling the Pain of Gender Dysphoria

Brand New Year – Same Old Mood Swings?

Choosing Choice: Habits and How We Can Break Them

Codependency: Both Sides of the Coin

Cutting to the Chase and Getting People Unstuck (Herald Express)

Death and Divorce: Can we Really Compare?

Depressing Day…What About you?

DLA Reassessment: I Know Who Won’t be Playing the System

Relationship Difficulties: Does Yours Need a Tune-Up?

Empty Nest Syndrome

Exeter Living: Q & A

Family Lost (Book Chapter)

Forgiveness May be your Worst Enemy – And Eat you Alive!

Gender Dysphoria: The Need for a Global Transsexual Training Manual

Has Spring Arrived for you?

Have you Been Hit by Debt?

In a Relationship with a Narcissist?

Is Passion Killing your Relationship?

Is their Jealousy Dangerous?

Living in a Dead Relationship?

Managing our Internal Parent

Narcissism: Two Sides of the Coin

Online Dating: Opportunity or Peril?

Parenting: It’s not for Cowards

Reconnect: The Changing Face of Therapy (Reconnect Magazine)

Relationship Reality Check

Relationship Rehab: Connecting with Family, Friends and Self

Resentment Will Kill your Relationship

Safe Psychotherapy: A Guide to Accessing Effective Help

Saying Thank You: Live from India to my Followers in Torbay

Scared You’re Drinking Too Much? (Counselling Directory)

Secrets Can Burn you Up!

Staying in Touch: For Parents of Children from 11-25

Stuckness and Breaking Free

Tackling Being Overweight and the Myths About Diet and Exercise

Tackling Loneliness, the 21st Century’s Biggest Killer

The Abuse in the Room

The Death of the Narcissist (Book Chapter)

The Hating Game – No One Wins

The Most Evil Game of All

The Summertime Blues: When the Living Isn’t Easy

Time for a Spring Clean?

Unpicking the Narcissist’s Attack: A Codependent’s Guide (LinkedIn Pulse)

What Doesn’t Kill you Might Not Make you Stronger

What Does Success Mean to You? (Flybe Business Magazine)

When do I Know my Relationship is Over?

When Opposites Start to Detract

Where is that (la-dee-da) Feeling?

Where is your Relationship Heading?

Taking the Guesswork out of Getting Help!