The top 10 blogs of 2017

The-top-10-blogs-of-2017

It’s been a huge year for Watersedge. We debuted a new look, released more Enneagram resources, and opened up our website to guest bloggers!

We’re so grateful for all of your support, and want to celebrate by listing our top 10 blogs for 2017—as decided by you. Enjoy, and keep your eyes out for more new content in the weeks to come. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to see all our new content first!

  1. The five types of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Infographic by Therapy Tribe

  1. Six ways to manage social anxiety

By Jessica Morris

  1. Who am I? The key to understanding yourself

Infographic by WatersedgeCounselling

  1. 12 ways to practice self awareness

Infographic by Huffington Post and The Utopian Life

  1. 12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety

By Andy McNaby

  1. 10 reasons you’re becoming burnt out

By Jessica Morris

  1. 10 Mental health accounts you need to follow on Instagram
  1. 10 Amazing self-care charts you need to see
  1. Managing meltdowns: Wisdom from over the fence 

By Louise Griffiths

  1. Consider this before you move in together – Part 1

By Colleen Morris

Do you want to live a whole and healthy life? Would you like support as you navigate life-changing issues or circumstances? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

Movie review: What If It Works?

what if it works

What If It Works? (MA15+)
Rating: 4 / 5

Depictions of mental illness can be hit or miss on screen, but when it comes to the Australian dramedy What If It Works? we reach a delightful new tier of excellence—one where the complexities of the issue are met with superb characterisation.

This results in not only excellent storytelling, but also a greater understanding of mental illness as well.

Based on the family experience of producer and director Romi Trower, What If It Works? immediately creates rapport by introducing us to Adrian (Luke Ford), a 20-something tech nerd living in metropolitan Melbourne. We learn that he is on a three-month ordered-leave from work to get his obsessive compulsive tendencies under control, and we soon see why.

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Stuck in a cycle of incessant clean­liness, order and ritual, he is unable to truly connect with anyone or anything in the outside world—until he meets Grace (Anna Samson), a young artist with dissociative identity disorder. She has 10 different personalities, stemming from childhood trauma and sexual abuse.

After Grace walks in on Adrian’s psychiatrist appointment as G—her hyper-sexual, unrepressed self, the pair become unlikely friends. This is not without drama, as each learns to understand and navigate life with the other’s symptoms and consider the possibility that maybe healing—and love—is possible for them.

Also starring Brooke Satchwell as Adrian’s ex Melinda, and Wade Briggs as Grace’s manipulative boyfriend Sledgehammer (the name speaks volumes), this is a solid Australian film, complete with a savvy score, a compelling script and witty characterisation.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the film is the portrayal of the lead characters. If anyone else portrayed Adrian and Grace it would be a mess, such is the multi-faceted nature of their characters and illnesses.

Yet Ford’s ability to embody anxiety with an endearing charm is extraordinary, and Samson balances numerous characters with intuition and integrity. You can’t help but barrack for their recovery, and the storyline gracefully leaves room for growth long after the credits finish rolling.

At times this is a confronting film, especially when Grace ‘switches’ to different personalities. Flashbacks to her trauma and the physical way she copes with this may also be triggers for some people.

However, if you’re looking for an inspiring and truthful Aussie film with enough charm to rival The Silver Linings Playbook, you won’t want to miss this—especially considering it’s picked up nods at film festivals in Australia, the US and Canada.

Highlight: Brilliant characterisation
Red flags: Language, sexual references, sex scenes, trauma, racial profiling and references to drugs and alcohol.

This review was originally published in Warcry magazine.

Do you relate to the characters of Adrian or Grace? Do you experience Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder? Are you in a relationship with someone who experiences a mental illness? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW.

40 Ways to care for your mental health

40-Ways-to-care-for-your-mental-health

As non-profits gear up for World Mental Health Day on October 10, now is the perfect time to consider how you can best take care of our own mental health. We all have our ups and down when it comes to our mental health, and this is often impacted by what’s going on in our lives and the world around us.

So how has your mental health been lately? Are you sailing along contentedly, or do you feel the weight of a thousand different expectations on your shoulders? Maybe you’re doing well for the most part, but you’ve sensed a shift in your mood since politics has taken over your social media? Or perhaps you feel isolated and lonely, and asking for help seems like a big step.

Wherever your mental health is at, this World Mental Health Day is your invitation to take stock of your wellbeing and have permission to care for it. This coming week, Australian charity Headspace is asking their supporters to answer the question: What puts you in a good headspace?

We’d love you to answer the same question. If you’re not sure, think about what makes you happy. When was the last time you felt most alive? And what helps you to relax and feel positive? You can find out more about Headspace’s Headspace Day campaign and fill out your own placard for social media here.

If you’re struggling to get started, here are 40 ways you can put yourself in a good headspace and care for your mental health.

  • Read a good book or watch a feel-good movie
  • Journal or colour in
  • Join a team sport
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Run or workout
  • Treat yourself to a delicious snack
  • Make a healthy (and yummy!) smoothie or juice
  • Go out for coffee
  • Take a ten minute break
  • Deactivate your social media
  • Catch up with a friend
  • Go to the beach
  • Go hiking
  • Turn off your phone
  • Try to bake something new
  • Try a new, healthy food
  • Go on a day trip
  • See a counsellor
  • Call a helpline or email them online
  • Write a letter to someone and never send it
  • Try a new hobby
  • Make a new friend
  • Go to a wildlife park
  • Ask someone to help you out
  • Take deep breaths
  • Meditate
  • Learn something new
  • Listen to music
  • Pat an animal
  • Book a holiday
  • Take a nap
  • Go to bed early
  • Cut back on alcohol and drugs
  • Learn about something new
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read blogs online
  • Watch funny videos
  • Practice Mindfulness

Do you want to care for your mental health?  Would you like some support or guidance as you try these different strategies? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

This comic communicates the reality of depression perfectly

This-comic-communicates-the-reality-of-depression-perfectly

It’s not always easy to express how we’re feeling, especially when we are experiencing depression or are going through periods of grief. Thankfully, creating art gives many of us an outlet when it all feels like too much.  And that’s why we love this amazing comic by the artist Iguana Mouth.

Lots of people have drawn ‘mental illness’ over the last few years in an effort to explain it to their friends, but few people are able to capture the complexity and heaviness of it like this artist. Take a look at the comic below, and see if you can relate.

While this comic is dark, it is also a great reminder that depression passes, and our most difficult moments pave the way to a fuller and more meaningful life.

Next time you feel isolated, try drawing, putting on some music or meditating and wait for the feeling to pass. And show this comic to a friend—they don’t need to fix you; it’s just ‘being’ together in the moment that makes them easier to get through.

Do you feel isolated or depressed?  Do you struggle to explain how you are feeling? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk

9-signs-a-young-person-may-be-at-risk

As much as we don’t like talking about it, self harm is extremely prevalent in society. It can take many forms, and often carries the stigma that the person doing it is seeking attention. This is not true—self harm of any form is a cry for help, but that doesn’t mean a person struggling with it will automatically tell you they need your support.

So how do we identify the signs that a young person might be engaging in this harmful behaviour? Pretty Powerful Girls recently published a blog written by Colleen for Australia Counselling titled: Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk.*

Take a look, and if you recognise any of these signs in someone you know, approach them gently. Remember, a lot of shame comes with self harm, and acting panicked or aggressive won’t help the situation.

Instead, speak to them about how they are feeling and encourage the person to seek further help. If you struggle with self harm, read this Hope Movement blog for more details on how you can find healing and use safe alternatives to manage your pain.

*Please note: This blog contains language and references to methods of self-harm, which may be triggering to some people.

Are you struggling with self harm? Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here. 

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Please stay: Suicide Prevention in Australia

Please-Stay-Suicide-Prevention-in-Australia

Following World Suicide Prevention Day and RUOK? Day, we wanted to shine a light on the work being done around suicide prevention in Australia.

Last week we listed nine great resources you can use to learn more about WSPD, and this week we are grateful to share this article published by Warcry magazine.

Please Stay

Do struggle with mental illness, or have you thought about suicide?” As I stood at the back of the school auditorium, hands popped up all over the building. I watched the kids open their eyes, and you could see the shock on their faces—the look when they realised they weren’t the only ones struggling.

I was visiting a group of school students with a mental health organisation, and even though I knew this class of 16-year-olds would reflect the numbers—that one in four of them would experience mental health issues—seeing it firsthand leaves you breathless.

I have encountered this scenario many times, and it never gets any easier. There is no simple solution, but speaking to someone who is struggling always starts with the simple admission, “You are not alone”, and the recognition that God will always meet us in our brokenness.

The process continues by handing over a list of resources—perhaps the number of Lifeline and the details of a local church—and it builds momentum when the brave individual walks through the doorway to a counsellor and enters recovery in a healthy community.

On the ground, this is what it takes to combat the suicide crisis rippling through Australia, and in the last year it has hit the headlines more than ever before. From the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, to the death of Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, it’s become harder to simply turn the page when headlines like ‘Australia’s Suicide Crisis Has Peaked to a Terrifying New Height’ come up. But that awareness is a good thing. Because, even though the headlines and statistics make your stomach lurch, with them comes a widespread movement to erase suicide—and it has reached Australia.

The World Health Organisation tells us that we lose nearly 800,000 people across the globe each year to suicide (that’s one every 40 seconds). Those numbers may be hard to comprehend, so let’s start at home.

In Australia, an average of 3,000 people die each year by suicide—or eight people a day. It is the leading cause of death in people aged 15–44, making it more likely to take a young person’s life than a motor vehicle accident or skin cancer. And while suicide dramatically impacts our young people, it is not prejudiced—it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 45–54. It is also more likely to occur in people who ex­perience mental illness.

Suicide rates for men are three times higher than women, and we see it peak in women aged 35–49 and men over the age of 85. With it comes a rise in self-harm (not necessarily an attempted suicide), and up to an additional 25 attempts by other individuals for every one death.

It’s also important to note that suicide is most prevalent amongst minority groups and veterans. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, and young people in regional and remote locations, are most at risk. In fact, in many of these areas, youth suicide happens in clusters, and rates are more than double the national average.

Given this, it’s not surprising that the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us suicide rates have reached a 10-year high.

Are you winded yet?

Take a deep breath. The facts are grim. But on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and RUOK? Day (September 14), we remember this: there is hope. Hope that comes from a healthy church community, and hope that we can share the strength and purpose we find in God.

Just like the group I volunteered with that day, there are many organisations and people across the world that are committed to embodying hope to combat suicide.

On a global scale, non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms is leading the way, and have named their World Suicide Prevention Day campaign ‘Stay. Find what you were made for’. They are using the event to raise funds for suicide prevention and recovery, and have encouraged hundreds of people across the world to share their purpose for existing, using the hashtag #IWasMadeFor.

Nationally we also have many organisations determined to turn the tide. The increase in suicides over the past decade has led experts to push for changes to national mental health policy, including Lifeline CEO Peter Shmigel who said, “While we’re prescribing more medication for mental illness than ever before…we are not doing enough to combat social factors that lead so many to choose death over living.”

In a recent interview with The Australian, child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg also pushed for action from the government to combat youth suicide, saying, “This is a generation that is…really struggling; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

While experts are urging policymakers to change things, the good news is that our nation is at the forefront of researching the health crisis. The Black Dog Institute, which uses research to reduce the incidence of mental illness, associated stigma and suicide, has observed that mental health tools are more effective when they are mobile and accessible 24/7 through technology.

Their Digital Dog research sector develops and creates apps and websites to complement face-to-face treatment. For instance, one of their latest trialled apps is named iBobbly, and it engages Aboriginal people with culturally appropriate art, music and stories to provide mental health care.

While technology can be used to educate people and prevent suicide, it is the relationships that people build with their com­munity that will save lives.

We see this on a local level with Salvo corps (churches) around Australia beginning much-needed conversations about mental illness, and giving people a safe place to heal, receive prayer, find a counsellor and enter recovery.

It also occurs through mental health organisations like the National Youth Mental Health Foundation Headspace, which provides early intervention mental health services for young people aged 12–25. They have more than 100 centres across Australia, and are convoying around the country in the days leading up to RUOK? Day, hosting community events in 20 locations so people can learn how to ask someone if they are at risk of suicide.

It’s impossible to change the statistics overnight, but by approaching this issue one person and one life at a time, we can make a difference. And that starts with us simply opening up the conversation with the words, “Are you okay?”  

Where to find help:

Call
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Help Line 1800 55 18 00
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Chat online
eheadspace.org.au
beyondblue.org.au

Find help near you
headspace.org.au/headspace-centres
beyondblue.org.au/get-support/find-a-professional
hopemovement.com.au/findhelp

twloha.com/findhelp

In an emergency, always call 000

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Nine tips to find the right counsellor for you

Nine-tips-to-find-the-right-counsellor-for-you

You have decided it is time to see a counsellor—but how do you go about finding the ‘right’ one for you? Beginning the process may seem overwhelming, but by following these nine tips, you’ll be able to locate a professional you ‘click’ with.

  1. Counsellor or psychologist—What’s the difference?

Deciding whether you need a counsellor or psychologist comes down to what approach you want to take in therapy.

Essentially the underlying difference between a counsellor and a psychologist is in the training that each undertakes. A psychologist is trained in the medical model treatment approach; that is to assess, diagnose and implement treatment interventions using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The emphasis is more likely to be upon diagnosis and relief of symptoms.

A counsellor is trained in the therapeutic model, where emphasis is placed upon the counselling relationship and the core principles of empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness. In this model, the person is at the centre of the therapy.

  1. Ask your friends

Word of mouth is always a sure way to find the right counselling professional for you. Your friend’s recommendation will be based upon their personal experience and effectiveness of the counselling professional they worked with.

  1. Research the counsellor’s professional affiliations

The counselling profession has strong professional code of ethics and standards that practitioners are expected to adhere to. Every counsellor should, at the very least, be affiliated with an Accredited Professional Association (APA).

In addition to this, in Australia there are two ‘umbrella’ associations for counselling professionals; the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation Association (PACFA) and Australia Counselling Association (ACA).

Alternatively, your counsellor may be affiliated with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) or the Australian Clinical Psychologist Association (ACPA). You will find this information on their web site and/or by asking the counsellor or the organisation they work for.

  1. Research the counsellor’s qualifications and experience

What is the issue you want to address? Counselling professionals are trained in the art of listening and facilitating dialogue that allows you to explore your personal experience and discover the necessary resources to encourage, motivate and empower you. In addition, counsellors will invariably develop an area/s of expertise as they continue to practice and pursue professional growth.

If you want to talk about the anxiety you experience, check that your counsellor has knowledge and experience in the area of mental health. If you are struggling with alcohol dependence or binge drinking, then ensure your counsellor has some education and experience in the area of substance issues. Do you need couple or marriage counselling? This is another area of expertise that you will want to ensure your professional is experienced in.

  1. Check out a counsellor’s website

A counsellor’s website is a great place to get a ‘feel’ for the person behind the content. Their personal and professional background, interests and the things they write about will all inform you about them.

  1. Talk to the counsellor over the phone

A personal conversation establishes so much more than the information you hear. In every conversation, be it on the phone, email or face-to-face, we are continually interpreting data by the nuances in the other’s speech; the pauses, a cough, the tone of voice, the pace of speech. All this information informs us about the person, and we respond in a positive or negative way accordingly.

Take the time to write down the specific questions you want to ask so that you ensure the counsellor is a ‘right fit’ for you and note how this interaction makes you feel.

  1. Gender

This is a personal choice depending on what you are comfortable with.

  1. Location and professional rooms

Location is an important factor not to be overlooked. You will want your counsellor to be readily accessible and feel comfortable in the space in which they work.

  1. Cost

There is a very broad spectrum in regards to the cost of a session, based upon a counsellor’s years of experience, expertise, whether they work privately or represent an organisation for which they are employed, whether they are registered as a Medicare provider or can provide some alternative rebate. These are questions to consider, recognising that the more specialised the field of practice, often impacts the cost of the service.

If you are looking for the counsellor that is ‘right’ for you, why not call us today? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary. 

On Chester Bennington and how to identify someone at risk of suicide

On-Chester-Bennington-and-how-to-identify-someone-at-risk-of-suicide

Photo credit: Jonathan Denney

When news broke that Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington died by suicide last week, tributes to the iconic singer poured out online. And whether we lose someone who is beloved on a global scale, or a member of our community, the ripple effects of such a tragic event often lead to questions like “What could I have done?” and “How could I identify the signs they were struggling”?

In light of this, we wanted to share a previous blog with you, giving you five questions to ask someone you believe may be at risk of suicide. We hope this equips you to help your family and friends if you are concerned for their safety. 

Five questions to ask a loved one at risk

It can be scary to ask a loved one if they are at risk of suicide. There is a stigma within society that insists asking someone about suicide attempts, thoughts or plans will perpetuate the act of suicide—but this is simply not true. In fact, asking someone if they are struggling, and giving them the opportunity to share their pain with you, can actually alleviate the risk of the behaviour occurring.

If a friend or loved one has been acting uncharacteristically, either withdrawing from people or acting irrationally and stepping out in risk-taking behaviour, then you may need to ask them if they have thought about suicide.

Other indicators they are thinking about it are unexplained injuries, death or self-harm related content being posted on their social media, increased substance abuse, previous suicidal thoughts or attempts and a sense of hopelessness.

Here are five questions that will help you assess the risk of a loved one carrying out the act of suicide.

  1. Have you had any suicidal thoughts?

The presence of suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean a person will act on them—but it is still essential you know they are there. Suicidal thoughts will often perpetuate and can become more vivid as a person feels a greater sense of hopelessness.

Asking them this question doesn’t imply they want to suicide. Actually, finding out when the thoughts began and how prevalent they may be allows you to understand the weight of what your friend is experiencing.

  1. Do you have a suicide plan?

Asking a loved one if they have a plan in place to carry out the act of suicide is essential. If they do have a plan to suicide, either a carefully constructed and well thought out plan, or a fleeting idea of what it would look like, you know they are high risk and immediate action needs to be taken to care for their wellbeing.

A person who has a set time and place for the act of suicide, and who has begun putting their affairs in order (writing letters, cancelling registrations etc.) is at extremely high risk of carrying out the act of suicide.

  1. Do you have access to any weapons or means of suicide?

A person who has already acquired a weapon or means of suicide is at serious risk. Other people who know weapons or tools are available in their work place or at a friends or relatives place are also in danger.

If your loved one has access to a weapon, ask them how regularly this occurs, if they have considered how they would access it and the likelihood of this.

  1. Have you felt like this before?

Understanding if your loved one has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past will help you to support them and keep them alive.  Ask if they have attempted suicide in the past, or thought about it. See if they have previously harmed themselves, and if they’ve created a suicide plan in the past.

If this has occurred in the past, the risk for your loved one increases, but this does not mean they won’t be open to help.

  1. Why have you chosen to stay alive?

Up to this point, your loved one has made the decision to stay alive. Irrespective of their struggles, they have chosen to remain. When people have suicidal thoughts, they resist them for any number of reasons: their love for family and friends, obligations, fear, the hope that things will change.

Take this reason and run with it. If a person is afraid of dying, they don’t want to die—they are likely exhausted and don’t know how to fight anymore. If family or friends is their motivation, remind them of the profound love they experience and the future events and moments they want to witness. If obligations are keeping someone alive, ask them what these mean and how they affect the people near them.

If a loved one answers yes to one or more of these questions, they need further help. Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency. If they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or you are concerned for their wellbeing, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here.

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

How one father explains mental illness and parenthood

How-one-father-explains-mental-illness-and-parenthood

Comics about mental health have been making the rounds on social media for the past few years, and artists like Toby Allen and Gemma Correll have changed the way many of us talk about mental illness. Now there’s another artist to add to the mix—but with a point of difference.

Toronto based teacher Chris Grady is the creator of Lunar Baboon, a series of comics depicting his everyday life. His comics are simple and sweet, showing the moments he interacts with his wife and kids. Notably, they also poignantly depict his struggle with mental illness.

In an interview with The Mighty, he explained that he began drawing to cope with his own struggles.

“After the birth of my first son, I was going through a really hard time. I wasn’t sleeping and started getting really depressed and found myself in a dark place. I needed something different, I was having a lot of negative thoughts and I needed a place to put them so I started drawing in a moleskin notebook and it’s taken off from there,” he said.

From comics about cheeky interactions with his son, to honest encounters with his wife, and brave attempts to find humour as he lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there’s something instantly relatable about Chris’s work. What’s more, it shows how to healthily communicate in family relationships and what we can do to support one another.

To see more of Chris’s work, visit LunarBaboon.com. His book Lunar Baboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood is out now.

Are you a parent? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How to stress less and find happiness

How-to-stress-less-and-find-happiness

It’s hard to get through a typical day without experiencing stress, right? From money concerns to worries about work, 7 out of 10 of us feel extremely anxious or stressed each day.

When we’re stressed, we experience physical fatigue and tend to take out our concerns on others. We see it damage relationships and create tension in ordinary situations. So how do we beat stress? The fact 85% of what we’re stressed about never happens is a great stat to comfort us when we’re agitated, but it’s not always easy to let stress ‘roll of our back’.

The great news is that there are some simple ways to reduce stress in our every-day life. Talking to a friend or colleague, seeing a counsellor—even putting a pot plant on your desk can all help to re-establish your own well-being. Add some exercise, meditation or fun activities into your schedule and you’ll also begin to feel less stressed.

Take a look at this infographic by Happify and see what methods you can use to reduce stress in your life. Let us know your favourite relaxation techniques in the comments!

How-to-stress-less-and-find-happiness-infographic

Are you stressed? Would you like to break free of your anxiety and worries? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.