There is a big difference between thinking about a subject that is troubling you and talking about it. Thinking on topics such as problems that trouble you tends to be repetitive. That means, that in thinking about the problems, the mind tends to repeat the routine of the way that it has thought about before. In a sense, in thinking about it, your mind just repeats to the formulations of the problem, how you speculate you got into it, what the the exact problem is, and how to get out of it, in the same way over and over again. In the end, this process gets you nowhere.
Talking to a psychologist is a new process: Talking about the problem is a different process entirely, although you may repeat some, or even most, of the thoughts that you have had about the problem, talking about it requires you to reorganize it in a number of ways. To begin with, it forces you to reorganize your thoughts about the problem, because talking about a problem to another person entails a completely set of descriptive criteria than thinking about the problem to yourself. Secondly, for the problem to make sense to your listener, you have to organize it in a way that communicates critical information about the problem, not just the “high points” which are the most upsetting about the problem which is what you do when you think about the problem. Finally, because you are communicating information to another person, when you talk about a problem, the person you are talking to may stop you intermittently to ask you questions on what you mean or even challenge some of the basic assumptions that you have made about the problem. This contributes insight into the problem which you may not have had before.
Talking to a psychologist gives new insight: Further, talking about a problem that is troubling you requires you to express your personal emotions surrounding it. In thinking about a problem, the emotions are intertwined closely with the facts relating to the problem, but talking about the problem, because it requires you to not only explain the basic elements of the problem, but also requires you to explain and experience your emotions, helps to clarify your thinking This helps you to sort out the facts from the feelings. This is the basis for the critical input from the psychologist. Also, with the psychologist you are free not only to verbalize your emotions, but also to express them, and, with the assistance of the psychologist, the expression of emotions often helps in understanding and dealing with the problem.
The Psychologist offers new approaches to the problem: This is the value of talking to a psychologist about critical problems that are bothering you. When you repeatedly go over a problem by constantly thinking about it, you commonly make little progress in creating or approaching a solution. You repeat the problem seemingly endlessly. On the other hand, when you talk to a psychologist about the problem, you are contributing to the discovery, realization, or initiation of some solution to the problem. The communications interchange between you and the psychologist opens up new pathways in your mind, and the psychologist opens up new pathways in not only in how you think and perceive the problem, but also why you are preoccupied with it.
The “why” of the problem, not just the “what”: Often the why is as important or more important than the what of the problem. It is the why that, through the direction of the psychologist, you can discover the significance of your preoccupation with the problem and, knowing that, approach the solution to the problem in a new way. In fact, talking to the psychologist about your problem may lead you to discover that your very perception of the problem is mistaken in some way, and to pursue a meaningful solution to the problem, you have to follow the new ways of thinking and talking about it suggested by the psychologist.
For all of these reasons, then, talking to a psychologist offers a highly valuable and positive way of dealing with your personal problems rather than endlessly repeating them in your mind. The psychologist will contribute understanding and positive approach to encountering, coping with, and some eventual solution to disturbing personal problems, worries, and fears.
NEXT: More indications of why to go to a psychologist.