I did a debt consolidation once about 14 years ago with my credit union. I wasn't in trouble, but had accumulated about $3,000.00 in debt after nursing school
buying furniture, moving, etc. and wasn't getting anywhere paying it off. They didn't give me the money, but paid off my debts themselves, and asked me to bring my credit cards(I only had two, as well as two other loans) so they could destroy them. So for a while I had no credit card (shudder). They were lower interest than the combined other payments, and I got it paid off quicker than I would have before. My credit was very good, and was excellent after I paid this off.
Within a short while I was debt free and got another credit card and have been o.k. since then. It was a positive experience. I did not debt consolidate because I was in trouble, which I think is the key, to consolidate prior to getting into trouble.