We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Lydia Hansell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Lydia Hansell, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
How is “work” distinct from “life”? Work is a part of life, so one of my primary goals has been to find meaningful work; a job that not only pays the bills but is deeply satisfying on a personal level.
Interestingly, I have found over the years that leisure time, or what we consider “life” in the phrase “work-life balance,” is actually less enjoyable than I anticipated. Why? Because I found pleasure in leisure but I found no mastery. I have discovered over the years that I thrive on a sense of mastery and self-efficacy because it helps me to feel capable and that I am doing something useful with my time. And I discovered a profound sense of mastery in my current career as a clinical psychologist. I realize that I am happiest when I have a balance of mastery and pleasure every day. I seek “balance” in my daily push to do things that contribute to a sense of self-efficacy, while also seeking joy with intention.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I take an << insight + skills >> approach to my work with individuals, couples, and families. I believe strongly in building insight into individual functioning while also building skills to sustain ongoing personal growth. Sometimes an individual starts their work with significant insight into their internal functioning, but they have very few skills to know how to operate in the world. Others come to treatment with a wide range of skills, but very little insight to know how to apply them appropriately.
I also really enjoy working with individuals who are in the process of a major life transition: retirement, career change, starting a family, or re-entering the world of work. At each major junction, there are a range of themes to address: how to take the bad with the good; how to create a new identity or re-envision an earlier one; or how to create pleasure, mastery, and meaning in a sustainable way. The possibilities are truly endless when the goal of the work is self-discovery and creating a sense of connection to self and others.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would want a friend to be sure to check out the incredible views from the Palos Verdes peninsula. Absolutely breathtaking. I would also strongly encourage a trip to Phanny’s in Redondo Beach for breakfast burritos, La Fiesta Brava in Venice/Santa Monica for authentic Mexican food, and The Parrot Cafe in Alhambra for a variety of special coffee drinks.
A trip to Los Angeles would not be complete without a trek up to the Griffith Park Observatory to watch the sunset.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to Ryan Franke and Dr. Anna McCarthy, co-founders of The Mental Health Collective in Newport Beach. Ryan and Anna have been instrumental in encouraging me to think creatively about my work and to believe in my own voice.
Headshot by John Glover.