The effectiveness of seeking help for coping with personal problems in late adolescence

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Older adolescents' help-seeking behavior, in terms of talking to friends, family, or professionals about a personal problem, was assessed at five time points over a 12-month period. A longitudinal causal model, controlling for previous help-seeking behavior, prior level of psychological symptoms, and current life events, was used to assess the effects of seeking help for problems on symptoms of psychological distress 12 weeks later. When these variables were controlled, neither seeking professional nor informal help from friends or family resulted in a significant improvement in subsequent psychological health. The help-seeking behavior of these adolescents did not, therefore, appear to effectively alleviate their psychological distress. It is suggested that focusing on problems by talking about them may intensity rather than decrease the arousal of psychological symptoms. Consequently, seeking help by talking about one's problems may not be an adaptive form of coping for adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-703
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1995


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