By PT Staff, published on February 1, 2003 - last reviewed on August 20, 2012
Terry Mizrahi, M.S.W., PH.D.
President, National Association of Social Workers
I would rephrase the question: How do you know you need professional help? You may have attempted to cope with the problem yourself and may have even discussed it with family, friends or peers. Sometimes just talking it out with a sympathetic listener helps. Beyond that, you might try a mutual support program like Alcoholics' Anonymous or another such group. But you know you need professional help when nothing has worked, when you feel depressed, anxious or agitated, when you are unable to carry out your obligations. But the most important point is to select someone with professional credentials and experience, referred by a reputable person or organization.
James Morris, Ph.D.
There are a range of warning signals that could indicate the need for therapy-including marital or family relationship dissatisfaction or distress, alcohol or drug abuse, loneliness, depression, sexual problems, unexplained physical problems, employment difficulties, inability to set or attain goals. A person may experience repeated problematic cycles, a feeling of being stuck or a sense of persistently losing ground. Getting feedback from trusted relatives and friends can aid in the decision to seek therapy. Finally, speaking with others who have been in therapy can provide useful information.
Jane Goodman, Ph.D.
President, American Counseling Association
You should consider counseling when you are unhappy, or when you wish you could be happier-when your anxiety or distress is interfering with work, relationships or self-confidence. Counseling can be helpful when you are facing a transition, have experienced a loss or just plain wish you could greet the day with more enthusiasm. I would suggest that if you are asking yourself this question, it is a good idea to consult a counselor or other mental health professional. Seeking help is a sign of strength. Don't wait until you are desperate.