Male therapist smiling while taking notes talking to a young woman client

Difference Between a Therapist and Psychologist

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What is the Difference Between a Therapist and Psychologist?


We get this question a lot. Since we have both Therapists and Psychologists at our office, we thought we’d do a blog post about the differences.

Therapist vs Counselor:

We often use therapist and counselor interchangeably, but there are a few differences. Usually counseling refers to a focus on a particular issue (like couples counseling or depression counseling) shorter term. Where as therapy can refer to a broader range of topics and longer term.

Our licensed therapists here have their Masters degree in psychology, and two years working with a qualified mental health professional after graduate school. They are qualified to evaluate and treat different kinds of clients depending on what they’re looking to come in for. They have been in the field for 10+ years, and have great experience helping all kinds of clients.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist:

A psychologist has their doctorate degree, either PhD or PsyD. During their graduate studies they learn to evaluate and treat a wide array of mental health disorders. After they are done with school, they do an internship as well that can last 2-3 years where they further their knowledge of disorders, diagnosing, testing, treatment, and much more.

A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who went to medical school. They can diagnose and treat different conditions with medication if they choose. They tend to specialize in mental health issues that might present with psychiatric issues as well. They are able to take a look at a person and their mental health conditions, and how those (along with certain medications) might impact their body (blood pressure, heart rate, organs etc).

Here at Biltmore Psychology and Counseling we have Licensed Marriage and Family therapists, who specialize in couples counseling as well as individual counseling.

We also have two Licensed Psychologists who specialize in everything from couples, grief, loss, anxiety, depression, infertility, and more.

Have more questions? Feel free to give us a call at 480-999-7070!




Dr. Melissa Estavillo Biltmore Psychology and Counseling

Tips on Finding the Right Therapist

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Interested in finding a good therapist, but unsure of where to start? Here at Biltmore Psychology and Counseling we believe in the right fit. We do our best to place potential clients in a great match with one of our therapists. And if they don’t believe it’s a good match, we will give them as many referrals and resources as possible in order to find their right fit.

Here are a few tips before you start calling around to various therapy offices in your area.

1. Ask around in your network:

Even though you might be nervous to reveal to your friends and family that you are looking for a therapist, you’d be surprised about how many people already have a therapist they see regularly. Your friends might know of someone they would recommend, or have seen someone in the past who really helped them. Whatever the circumstance, it’s a good way to open the dialogue between your friends a family about therapy and ways to help each other out.

2. Use online resources like Psychology Today:

We tell our clients about Psychology Today a lot. It’s a really great resource where you can filter your results to specifically what you’re looking for. You can click on days/times that work for you, put in your zip code, and even your insurance and it will pull up providers in your area. Other recommended resources are Google and Yelp. You can get a sense for the therapist/office by reading other reviews.

3. Look at their photos

Unfortunately we live in a society where first impressions and what we see at first, largely shapes how we think about an individual. Take a look at the pictures of the therapist on their website or their Psychology Today profiles. Is there a particular picture that stands out to you? Obviously you can’t tell the whole picture about a person just from their photo, but it’s a good way to put your instincts and gut reactions into play.

4. Is gender important to you?

Do you have a preference between a male or a female therapist? Most of the clients that call in to Biltmore Psychology and Counseling have an idea of what type of therapist they want. But we do encourage you to put gender aside because a great therapist will be a great therapist regardless of their gender.

5. Theoretical Orientation

Are you looking for a specific type of therapy? Do you have trauma in your past and are interested in EMDR (a type of therapy regularly used in therapy focused on past traumas). Are you looking to change your thoughts and focus on why you have the pattern of thoughts you have? You might consider someone who does CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Generally good therapists are willing to speak to you for a short 5-10 minute call before you come in for your first appointment to explain their process and approach.

6. Do your research

Once you find your potential therapist, spend some time looking some things up on the internet. Look up their license, where they went to school, reviews they might have. You might consider talking to the therapist themselves, or calling their office and speaking to the front person.

A Deeper Look at Couples Counseling

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Earlier this week we uploaded a video to our blog and Youtube channel where Dr. Melissa Estavillo talks about what to expect in Couples Counseling.

Why do couples generally seek counseling?

Today we’re going to expand on that a little bit! Couples seek counseling for a number of reasons. Maybe you’ve reached a bit of a lull in your relationship, and you’re looking for some tools to connect again.

Sometimes you are in a really rough patch with your spouse with non stop arguing.  You might need help resolving the issues, and helping to communicate better.

There could be some distrust or a specific event that you and your spouse are trying to work through.

Whatever your reasons are, couples counseling can be a great way to work through these difficult times in your relationships.

How do I choose the right Couples Counselor?

There are a lot of therapists and psychologists out there. Make sure you are taking the time to select someone who will be a great fit with you and your spouse. We care about fit a lot here at Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. We try our best to match you with a counselor we think will be great. But in the event that you might not be clicking with that therapist, we are happy to refer you and your spouse to another one of our wonderful therapists here.

All that to say is, do your research. Research therapists in your area. Read reviews. Talk to your friends and family and see if they have someone they might suggest. If you’re not sure, call that office and ask the Office Manager about the different therapists. They should be able to take the time to tell you about everyone, and help you decide who to book an appointment with.

Agree to go together.

Talk to your partner about what your hopes are for the sessions. Agree on going together, and be clear about what you are wanting to work through with your spouse. A good therapist will be able to talk through their approach with you both, and map out a treatment plan for the future.

Know that it might take some time to break down some barriers with your new therapist and spouse, and be willing to try your best to work through.

Put in the work.

And finally, if you’re really serious about therapy and helping your current relationship, actually do the work. Take the tools the therapist gives you and implement them in your daily lives and relationship. It is great to see a therapist on a regular basis, but if you’re not actually taking some responsibility on yourselves as a couple, you will not see success in your efforts.

Relationships are hard and require work. Having an outside, unbiased person to help guide you both, is a great way to develop a healthier relationship long term.

Happy Couple leaning on a balcony during sunset

Tips to Stay a Happy Couple!

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Ever have that couple in your life who seem so happy, and you often wonder, “How do they do it?” We all have happy couples around us, and we might even be that happy couple. But we also know, staying happy can be tough as time goes on in a relationship.

Many things happen during a relationship that can be a threat to the ‘strength’ or ‘happiness’ of a couple. But so many of us seem to focus on what is wrong in the relationship rather than what is right.

Terry Orbuch, Ph.D from Psychology Today suggests adding positive behaviors to keep that happiness alive in a relationship.

There are four things she suggests to start today:

  1. Get Real About Your Expectations

  2. Do Small Things, Often, To Make Your Partner Happy

  3. Practice The 10-Minute Rule 

  4. Knock Each Other Off Balance

Getting real about your expectations. 

We often get these ideas of what relationships and marriages should be like from books, movies, and TV shows. But in reality, a long term commitment to another person takes continued work. Understanding these expectations can help relieve a lot of anger, frustration, and resentment. When you know that your relationships doesn’t have to be perfect, and there will be times when it’s not great, you can build your expectations in a healthy manner instead of an unattainable manner.

Do small things to make your partner happy often.

Orbuch says that she teaches her happy couples about affective affirmation. What is affective affirmation? Affective affirmations are compliments, encouragement, and physical rewards that don’t have to be sexual (like hand holding, back rubs etc). Offering your support and help to your partner, can go a long way. Even if it’s something small like taking out the trash or emptying the dishwasher.

Practice the 10-minute rule.

Talking to your spouse seems like something you do all the time. But when you really analyize your relationship, you might realize that you do talk to your spouse a lot, but about the same things all the time. How your day was, chores to be done, stressors at work, etc. But try setting aside 10 minutes a day to talk to your partner about anything BUT your relationship, work, or household items. You’ll be surprised about what you can learn about each other in such a short period of time!

Know each other off balance. 

We all tend to settle in certain ‘roles’ in our relationships. You might be the one who handles all the finances, while your spouse is the one who does most of the cooking. Maybe you do a lot of the planning for trips or date nights, and your partner helps to get everything organized at home. What about changing it up? Settling into routines can be great, but can also be frustrating in a relationship. Start to implement a few changes here and there. Ask your partner to plan the next date night, or go to the grocery store and whip up a nice homemade meal for them.

Where ever you are in your relationship, know that they are hard. They require hard work. Happy and successful couples know this going in, and adjust to it through out. Adding in positive behaviors can be a great way to keep that spark alive!