This is probably the hardest question for anyone to answer for themselves. My short answer is if you are asking if you need therapy, you probably do.
First, there are a lot of misconceptions about what therapy is and is not. You do not come in and lay on a couch and cry about your mother. (And we don't blame others either! Your behavior is your responsibility.)Depending on what is going on, we may discuss family history, but only with regard to its relevance to current patterns. Also, therapists don't tell you what to do or give advice. I am not in charge of your life and I do not know what goes on when the doors are closed. What I *will* do is assist you in sorting out your thoughts and finding your own answers.
There are different forms of therapy. I won't list them all here, as that would be impossible but most people come in seeking supportive therapy- which is when you are having a hard time and don't have much of a support system, or when you need someone unbiased to assist you. I also do psychoeducation- which is a fancy way of saying I educate you about your diagnosis and possibly the maladaptive ways you are handling things. Then I teach you new tools to appropriately handle these things. Often, we find things that they are denying, minimizing, or not acknowledging. So, we create a treatment plan, work through the current stressors, and whatever is feeding their inability to handle them, perhaps give them some new tools, and send them on their way.
We also do talk therapy- where we discuss the present happenings and dig into the past, explore how these things are influencing current patterns, resolve these issues, and get you back to healthy.
Those three are really the basics of working in therapy. We have so many tools at our disposal and many ways to assist you and get you to where you need to be that it would really be a book if I wrote about it all. You can work with your therapist to make a plan and see what works for you.
So, that being said: You know you need to seek help when your quality of life is significantly diminished. Basically, if you are having a hard time coping, have tried to resolve things on your own and are unable to, or need support that you cannot find elsewhere. If you feel yourself keeping things from others, not being honest about how you're feeling, isolating, or just not enjoying life in general it may be a sign that you need some help. If you cannot be present in your every day life, you may need some help getting back on track.
If you're unsure, it never hurts to consult a therapist. Feel free to call me and consult with me- free of charge. I'll be thrilled to tell you if you don't need a therapist. I'll also be thrilled to help you if you need it.