Dr. Therese Mascardo: exploring therapy and being the best version of you
Dr. Therese Mascardo is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and CEO and Founder of Exploring Therapy, a wellness community designed to help people build a life they don’t need a vacation from.
My business involves different ways of helping people maximize health and enjoyment in their lives - I create inspirational health content, I teach courses to help other medical professionals enjoy their work more, and I coach high achievers who want to thrive while making a big impact, but are going through a challenge that’s getting in the way. I love to travel for fun and I do my job 100% remotely. I’m also a bigtime foodie and so I love to eat delicious food wherever I am!
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to be a pediatrician, then I dreamt of being the first woman President of the United States, and then a News Broadcaster. Clearly I wasn’t afraid of dreaming big! I think somewhere in there I thought about being an elementary school teacher too.
Please tell us about how those dreams transformed into your present/ future dreams and achievements.
It’s funny I didn’t put this together earlier, but I realized in college that I was not cut out for medicine because blood and guts made me queasy and math was not my favorite subject (and Calculus was a required course for pre-med). My empathy meant that I would sometimes over-identify with people in pain, which is really a problem if you want to go into medicine. What I did love was the idea of connecting with people, helping them, and making a difference in big impactful ways. I think that’s why I was also interested in politics and news broadcasting. It was when I took Psych 101 in college that I realized psychology was my passion because it meant learning to understand people in ways that could truly make a difference. I remember thinking it would be amazing to get paid to talk to people all day since that was (and is) my favorite thing to do.
What barriers or hurdles did you overcome in trying to follow your dreams?
Resources: I couldn’t afford to pay for grad school on my own so I had to live with my parents and take out student loans. I finished grad school in 2008 in the middle of a recession and was subsequently laid off three different times.
Personal loss and grief - I suffered the loss of a close family member to suicide and experienced grief and depression afterwards.
Insecurity and self doubt - like many others I have second guessed myself many times along the way. I struggled with thinking that I wasn’t qualified enough, wasn’t smart enough, or was simply not the best person to do what I dreamt of doing. I’d be intimidated by other people’s success instead of motivated and inspired by it.
Ultimately, the support of friends and therapy helped me through my most difficult times.
What advice would you give someone following in your footsteps?
Volunteer/Work For Free - Education is available everywhere - especially outside the classroom. Volunteering at hospitals, in labs, and doing community service gave me experience and leadership opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The skills I learned were valuable and made me more marketable.
Always seek out mentorship - I’m a HUGE believer in the power of mentorship and the many mentors I’ve had throughout my life have made a profound impact on me and opened up doors I never thought possible. I always encourage others to create a “Personal Board of Directors” made up of wise, experienced, talented people whom you admire that you can ask questions and consult with regularly. Give them full authority to speak into your life and decisions, including what you may be doing to get in your own way. Put your ego aside and graciously receive their feedback.
Go to therapy - Spending intentional time being the best version of you is good for everyone. Therapy can help you identify blind spots, be more intentional, and stay focused on becoming the person you want to become.
Let yourself “dabble” - Don’t be so singularly focused that you don’t let yourself play. Do things that sound fun, even if they don’t seem to have an immediately useful purpose other than enjoyment. Try out things that you’re curious about. Don’t worry if it’s not tied directly to a career. Maintaining a posture of exploration is good for your brain and helps prevent you from getting stuck in a rut.
Focus on relationships - Everything in life boils down to relationships (not power, not money, not fame, not financial success) so it’s important to learn how to be relationally healthy. Reciprocity is so important. Empathy is a skill that can be improved upon! Go beyond taking - learn how to invest and give in relationships. Learn how to listen well. Learn how to ask questions. Learn how to help people who are suffering. Learn how to just sit with people and not try to fix them.
Practice gratitude and mindfulness. These two things alone will positively impact your health and happiness in life. They are GOLD.
If you have any questions for Dr. T, feel free to write them in the comments!