Getting Help

Do You Need Help?

When Should I Consider Face-To-Face Counseling?

Deployment affects people in many different ways.  Of course, seeking professional counseling is your choice.  However, there are conditions that occur in people’s lives when it is best to work with a provider.

We strongly encourage you to get help and support from a trained mental health professional if you are:

  • Feeling sad or depressed most of the time for more than a week.
  • Feeling anxious or having distressing thoughts you can’t control most of the time for more than a week.
  • Having continuing difficulty working or meeting your daily responsibilities.
  • Having problems in your relationships, or trouble taking care of your family.
  • Increasing your use of alcohol or street drugs, or using them to cope.
  • Overusing prescription medications.
  • Having traumatic stress reactions that are not getting better as time passes.
  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself.
  • Thinking about hurting or killing someone else.
  • Doing things to hurt yourself, like cutting or burning yourself.
  • You are extremely angry most of the time.
  • Other people are saying they’re concerned about you and think you should talk to someone.
  • You are having trouble sleeping most of the time.
  • You are having trouble with eating or with your appetite most of the time, or you’ve lost significant weight without meaning to.

If you are feeling suicidal or homicidal, it’s important that you let someone know. You should seek help immediately by calling 911 or going to the closest emergency room.

It doesn’t have to be an emergency for you to benefit from talking with a professional helper or counselor. Professionals who have training and expertise in working with military personnel can help you with several things:

  • Learn to manage your feelings and thoughts more effectively.
  • Learn to feel more comfortable talking to people in your daily life.
  • Learn to pursue goals that are important to you.
  • Learn to focus on the future.

Some reactions are very common in the first week or two following a traumatic event and, and do not necessarily require in-person consultation with a counselor. Difficulties getting through normal activities and responsibilities, avoidance of situations, nervousness, and sleeping problems are common at first. But if there is no improvement in the first weeks following a stressful or traumatic event, then face-to-face counseling should be strongly considered.

Another reason to consider face-to-face counseling might be that you don’t have people to talk to about what happened, because:

  • The people close to you are not able to support you the way you need them to.
  • You are isolated or without close family or friends.
  • The traumatic experience feels so personal or sensitive (such as rape, assault, domestic violence, loss of a buddy, friendly-fire related incident) that you don’t feel comfortable or safe talking with anyone you know.


Seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness; seeking support is a sign of strength. Talking to a counselor can improve your ability to help yourself.

If you’re Not Sure Whether to Seek Counseling

If you’re not sure whether to seek counseling, you could go for an introductory, or evaluation session with a counselor to see if the counselor seems like someone you could work with.  An introductory session will also give you an opportunity to get some feedback from the counselor about your problem.  Trying out a session lets you consider all of your options.  Remember that “shopping around” for a counselor is a perfectly acceptable thing to do; in fact many people recommend it.  Just because you go for one session does not mean you have to return. You can always go and check out other options!

You Say You Can’t Go for Help Because…

Working with a healthcare professional can be a very helpful way to feel better and get back on track. However, many people do not seek counseling even though they might benefit from it. What would stop you from getting help if you needed it?


Select the statements from the list below that pertain to you.



1. I think it might feel strange to talk to a counselor.


2. A counselor can’t help me or won’t understand.


3. Therapy and medications don’t help with deployment problems.


4. If I see a counselor it means I am weak or ‘broken.’


5. I am the only one who has such a negative reaction to deployment (or had a negative experience during deployment) — I should be able to hold up like everyone else.


6. My military career might be at risk if I talk to someone about my problems.


7. My unit or CO will treat me differently.


8. I should be able to cope with my problems myself.


9. If I need help, then I’m not a real Marine/Soldier/Sailor and I’m not fit to serve my country.


10. Other people will find out that I’m getting help and they’ll make fun of me.


11. If I just ignore the problems they will go away.


12. It’s easier to avoid talking about what happened.


13. I don’t think how I’m doing is really that bad.


14. I don’t know where to find a counselor.


15. I’m worried that counseling costs too much money.


16. I’m worried about scheduling an appointment and getting time off from work.


17. I’m not sure how to get to and from appointments.