Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena
Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Maria Teresa De Donato, Ph.D. is a Certified and Registered Traditional Naturopath, Classical Homeopath, Life Strategist, and the Author of several publications, with more than 30-years experience in Public and Holistic Health. She holds a Doctoral degree, along with a Master and a Bachelor in Holistic Health and Certifications in Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Nutrition, Herbalism, Conflict Analysis, and Negotiation & Conflict Management, and many other certifications and courses she took over the years.
She started her coaching activity some 35 years ago and has been helping and transforming people’s lives at all levels ever since. She is also an active Member of several professional organizations.
In her holistic health practice, she applies principles of Classical Homeopathy, Western & Eastern Nutrition and Herbalism, Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help the body correct imbalances, detoxify, and work towards optimum health. Her activity is focused on the individual as a whole and on the identification and removal of the root cause which might have contributed or even determined a specific health problem.
L’IDEA: One of your books, “Hunting for the Tree of Life: A Spiritual Journey in the Garden Traditions” addresses a quite deep concept, the limit of our lifespan. What inspired you to write this book? I notice it has Judeo-Christian references to the Bible. Do you feel that the content is for everyone, regardless of these references?
Maria Teresa De Donato: Since a very young age I have been fascinated and intrigued by the purpose of Life and concepts such as everlasting life and immortality. Deep in my heart, I have always felt there must be much more than what we see, believe and have been taught about these topics. Both my mind and my heart, my deepest (or highest) Self have, consequently, refused the idea that Man is supposed to live only some 70-80 years or so, IF he gets lucky, and then die.
Along with a past in esoterism, I also studied with different religious groups, each one having its own ideas about all of this, one might or might not agree with, but I have always felt that we should be living here on Earth forever, or at least not for such a short period of time as we all seem to be condemned to.
Much later in life and through my academic studies in Holistic Health, I realized that our body is, in fact, equipped, with some amazing mechanisms intended to identify and “fix” whatever problem we might be confronted with and to restore optimum health. If these mechanisms worked “perfectly”, or – better said – as they are meant to, we wouldn’t know what death is. So, What is preventing them from working as they should? Science itself has not found the answer yet to why we grow old and die. I decided, therefore, to dig into it and try to found the answer, or at least to help the reader to approach these topics from a different perspective and open their mind to the possibility that there might be, in fact, an answer and a solution to it. Science does not possess the answers to all our questions, as history has proven. This means that there are circumstances where we might have to look elsewhere to find them.
My coauthor Rev. (Retired) Anneli Sinkko, M.Phil. in Religious Studies and I come from quite different backgrounds. Anneli is a very religious person, while I consider myself more a person with strong interests in spiritual matters. That being said, we have also different views on several religious/spiritual topics. Hence, in order to work together on this project, we decided that whenever we wouldn’t agree on a certain topic, we would have presented both our views as two possibilities and let the reader think about it and decide for themselves which one to choose. As for the Judeo-Christian references to the Bible as well as the many other ancient and modern writings we have used to write our book, they have been all presented as “historical documents”, Bible included, rather than as “the World of God”, a definition not all readers might have agreed with. Hence, the content is, indeed, for everyone, regardless of their personal beliefs on the matter. Through our book we encourage our readers to set aside their differences, hence whatever cultural, religious, traditional belief they might have and that might be perceived as a barrier towards the other and recognize that we, as a Human Race, aren’t but ONE BIG FAMILY: we are all related and deeply connected to each other as well as to ALL THAT IS. We should, therefore, be working on our similarities rather than on our differences and on all that can potentially keep us separated from each other.
L’IDEA: Another book of yours, “PTSD: Conquering The Invisible: – A Holistic Approach to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” which is also available in Italian, is touching a subject that has been in the headlines quite frequently in the past years. Could you give our readers a brief explanation of what your book’s approach is to cure or at least mitigate the effects of this terrible mental health condition?
Maria Teresa De Donato: PTSD is, unfortunately, a serious condition that affects the health and life of thousands of people each year, regardless the kind of trauma that might have caused it. Hence, it needs to be diagnosed and dealt with properly in order to, hopefully, be cured or at least become manageable so that the individual may still live a pretty normal life and enjoy it.
I dedicated this book to my father’s memory. My father suffered from PTSD all his life as the result of traumas he went through first as consequence of his mother’s premature death when he was a child, and then due to those caused by the heavy aerial bombardments that took place in northern Italy during WWII, where his family moved due to my grandfather’s job. As consequence of his PTSD, my father tried to cope with his traumas through alcoholism. At that time, PTSD was not really known as it is today, neither were there proper therapies, at least in Italy. His alcoholism, therefore, made his problem even worse and had repercussions also on the lives of all the members of my family. So, I am very aware of the devastating consequences that PTSD has on its victims as well as on their beloved ones.
Whatever the treatment one might choose, as a Naturopath – and not a licensed physician who might focus only on symptoms and illness rather than on the individual as a whole as, on the contrary, I do – my purpose in writing this publication has been to educated people about this condition as well as about several holistic methodologies and many activities, all of which having the potential to improve the situation and to help the body, the spirit and the mind to work altogether in such a way as to, hopefully make a full recovery possible. Nobody – not a physician nor a naturopath – can assure the final result of whatever therapy and treatment, since the process in case of PTSD can be quite long and challenging and it varies from one individual to the other. My advice, through this book, is that a combination of methodologies and activities might work better and increase the possibilities of succeeding in restoring or, at least, in improving one’s own health and life.
L’IDEA: You also have two other books that have a similar content (“The Dynamics Of Disease and Healing: The Role That Perception and Beliefs Play In Our Health and Wellness” and “Disease and Healing Dynamics.”) Are they one and the same or are they different? The subject is very interesting and I am sure our readers would like to know more about it from you. Could you expound on it?
Maria Teresa De Donato: Sure. “The Dynamics Of Disease and Healing: The Role That Perception and Beliefs Play In Our Health and Wellness” is the dissertation I wrote and defended for my doctoral degree in Holistic Health in 2012. After graduation, however, I had other priorities and ended up publishing my research paper on Amazon only in 2015. “Disease and Healing Dynamics” is, therefore, its shorter, Kindle version. Even though all material related to the dynamics of health, symptoms, disease, healing as well as the world of perceptions and belief system and the results I obtained through my case-studies and research are all presented in both versions, “Disease and Healing Dynamics” does not contain the three sessions and follow-ups with the seven participants I interviewed with, observed, analyzed, and whose experiences I wrote about.
Both titles well reflect other topics I have always been interested in, fascinated by and wondered about: What is Health? What is Disease? Do Symptoms and Disease have a specific purpose or they manifest just to trouble us and make us worry? And if they do have a purpose, What exactly is it? Why some people are able to completely heal while others are not, no matter what kind of therapy they follow? What does true healing really involve?
In these works I tried to explain the mechanisms that are behind all of these factors and the role that our perceptions and belief system play in our health and wellness, as well as in our healing ability or inability. Are we just victims of “bad luck” and/or of our DNA, hence of our predispositions, or do we create our own illnesses and our own health?
These are deep questions to think about carefully and I hope people will enjoy finding out more about these topics by reading my books. They can also look at my Amazon Author Page
L’IDEA: You are defined as a Naturopath. What does being a Naturopath entail?
Maria Teresa De Donato: As a Traditional Naturopath, I approach life and health from a holistic perspective, understanding and accepting the fact that mind, body, and spirit do need to be aligned to each other in order for optimum health to be maintained or restored. I also understand that true healing can only occur once the underlying cause of a condition has been identified and completely removed, and that the mere suppression of symptoms is not really a cure. Our body is fully equipped to deal with symptoms and diseases not only thanks to the Life Force (also known as Qi, Chi, or Prana) animating it, but also to the mechanism of homeostasis, through which our body always works in the attempt to restore a state of balance, hence of health. As a Naturopath, I try to help the body, and our Life Force, to work properly again so that healing may occur naturally. Since I am not a licensed physician and do not practice conventional medicine, my work as a Traditional Naturopath and Classical Homeopath consists in helping my clients to preserve health and/or restore it when it appears to be compromised, by recommending them herbal and/or homeopathic remedies as well as changes in their lifestyle habits.
L’IDEA: You also are a life strategist and your background is Holistic Health. How does this particular field prepare you to become a life strategist? For example, you also help people with financial issues. How does it all connect?
Maria Teresa De Donato: As a Life Strategist my activity started more than 35 years ago as a personal and spiritual coaching while educating, motivating and training people in many aspects of life. I also collaborated with HR Departments, with companies working in the field of Recruiting and Interviewing Personnel, and as an Education and Career Counselor where I also gained experience. Years later, my holistic health academic studies and experience were finally added to the previous ones, thus enabling me to have a 360° coaching area of expertise.
Hence, although I am not a financial planner or alike, there are basic universal principles I know of and am familiar with (and my studies in Economics and Accounting when I was in college in Italy might have also helped in this regard) which allow me to help people to at least start walking on the right path when it comes to how they can better manage and save their money. I make no recommendations whatsoever about the stock market, investments and alike. That’s beyond my ability and expertise. But I can help people to become aware of the way they manage their money, of some bad choices they might have made in the past, and to learn how to deal with their finances in a more balanced, and certainly much healthier way. Then, if they wish to invest their money or make further plans for their retirement and so forth, they do need to contact a qualified professional able to assist them in those areas.
As for your question about how all of this connects… It is my understanding and personal experience that many problems are usually strictly connected to each other, even though it might not appear that way at first sight. For instance, many people are in financial trouble not necessarily because they do not make enough money but rather because of the way they spend their money. Women, especially, are often inclined to spend more than what they should because of the frustration they experience in regard to certain situations they might be dealing with or some emotional needs which are unfulfilled. Hence, in these cases, money it’s not the real issue, although it ends up becoming part of it. My holistic approach, not only in the sense of seeing mind, body, and spirit linked to each other but even more so when it comes to see intuitively beyond appearances and be able to find the root cause of a certain issue enables me to help people in a more practical way.
L’IDEA: “Dare To Rise: Reshaping Humanity By Reshaping Yourself” is another book of yours, and as the preceding ones, it deals with a deep theme, the need to find a way to assert oneself and by doing that reshaping the world around you. Is that the concept? Could you tell us more about it?
Maria Teresa De Donato: “Dare To Rise: Reshaping Humanity By Reshaping Yourself”, which I co-author with Denis Gorce-Bourge, a colleague who specializes in Corporate and Executive Life Coaching and is the Director of GB Life Coaching Ltd., is intended as an inspirational and motivational book; as a tool that can help people to wake up – at least those who are ready to – and make a shift in the way they see and perceive reality, thus in harmony with the breakthroughs that in recent years disciplines such as Neuroscience, Biology, and Quantum Physics have made. Thanks to some new findings in these fields, we came to realize that reality is much more complex than how we have thought it to be and that we are not passive observers but that rather can be, and should be, cocreators of our lives.
Awareness, Consciousness, Mindfulness, Perceptions, and Beliefs play, indeed, also in this case, a fundamental role in our existence and highly contribute to the success or the failure of it. The good news is that each one of us is an amazing Universe, and has an unlimited, fantastic, unique potential yet to be discovered and put to the test. We only need to become aware of this, believe in us, love ourselves in a caring, nurturing way and extend to ALL THAT IS this Unconditional Love – which is by all means the most powerful element and the very one that can contribute to our positive self-development and awakening, and eventually to the creation of a much better humanity.
L’IDEA: You are also writing a novel and expect to keep on doing that, but you intend to write it in Italian. Why? When did the fiction-writing bug bit you? What will this novel be about?
Maria Teresa De Donato: I am a pretty eclectic person. I am passionate about many things and many topics. I have an approach to life which is not only holistic (or wholistic) but also and even more so multidisciplinary. The fiction novel you are referring to is something I started working on many years ago, even before enrolling in my holistic studies. For one reason or the other, I felt as there were always other priorities, thus leading me to put this work aside more than once. I eventually decided that it was about time to finish it and get it published. The novel is set partially in Libya and partially in Italy. The events described take place in the 20th century and the leading character is a woman who goes through much in life but who eventually is happily surprised by how her life turns out to be. Even though the novel was never intended as an erotic one, it will end up being almost as such, due to fact that while writing about the love between two people it appeared to me as the lovemaking should have also been included as I did indeed, although the main aspect is not sex per se but rather the self-discovery and self-growth of the protagonist. The Italian and the Libyan histories also play a role in it while acting as backgrounds to the events that occur. I am sure the public will enjoy it. I look forward to hearing some feedback from the readers. I hope to be able to publish both the Italian and the English versions (there are people from all over the world following me, many Italians included – that’s why I try to publish my works in both languages) sometime between the end of this year and the beginning of 2019. Those who desire to do so can follow me on my Amazon Author Page (see link above) in order to keep up with my activities and publications.
Many thanks in advance to those who will.
L’IDEA: Do you feel being Italian influenced your professional life and choices?
Maria Teresa De Donato: I most certainly do. I believe it influenced who I am and everything I do at whatever level. I have been living in the US for more than 23 years. I have learned a lot and to a certain extent, I have also changed by embracing the American culture and loving it. But you cannot really get rid of your native culture and traditions completely, can you? It determines, or at least profoundly impacts, every fiber of your very being, which is also something very difficult to articulate. Let’s take for instance the language. We are very grateful to be able to use English as THE way to communicate internationally. English is truly a “business language”. Grammatically speaking, it’s quite simple to learn it, although you actually never finish learning it, since you can always discover something new about it. Some English native speakers are more articulated than others and have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the grammar. So if you really pay attention to them when they speak, you can still keep learning and improving your language skills. Italian, on the other hand, is grammatically speaking much more complex, though compared to German, for instance, allows for a greater flexibility when it comes to the position that each word – be it a noun, a verb, or an adverb – could, should, or better said, must have in a sentence. Having said that, and just knowing or at least looking at the differences between English, Italian and German, you will easily understand why these three peoples are so different in the way they think and act, and each one excels in either simplicity, creativity or perfectionism.
L’IDEA: If you had to meet someone from the past, anyone you would like, who would he or she be? What would you like them to tell you and what would you tell them?
Maria Teresa De Donato: There are many people I would really like to meet. However, if we want to stick to just one, then I would choose Jesus. I am fascinated by his ability to perform “miracles”, although I came to realize that what we perceive as such, in reality are events that follow specific Laws of Nature, we have not discovered nor completely understood yet, and that there is, in fact, a logical explanation for each one of them. I believe Jesus, and for that matter also other people living both in his time as well as in other eras, were familiar with these Laws, and how the material/physical and immaterial/spiritual words work and, consequently, had control over them and used them in a way the majority of humanity has not been able to so far. I would ask lots of questions. It would be an exciting and profound educational experience for me.
L’IDEA: What other projects are you working on, if any?
Maria Teresa De Donato: At the moment I am finishing working on a few other projects, one related to women’s health while the other is of historical-genealogical nature. As well as for the novel we mentioned before, I hope to have them published by 2019 both in Italian and in English.
L’IDEA: Do you have a message for our readers?
Maria Teresa De Donato: I hope they will get intrigued by our topics, buy my books or Kindle and, hopefully, that they will like my approach and get in touch with me with some positive and constructive feedback. As for those who might be interested in my activities as a Naturopath, Homeopath and/or Life Strategist, whatever their circumstances might be, they can visit my sites and blogs at
Thank you, for this opportunity, Tiziano, and thank you also to the readers for having followed us.