S1 – Ep. 11: Dr. Joy Dryer on Asking the Existential Questions

Jun 28, 2019


Debbie interviews psychologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Joy Dryer about the existential questions around mid-life transitions, including taking a gap year or timeout: Who am I right now? Who do I want to be? And where? And with whom?



Debbie sits down with Dr. Joy Dryer, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who’s been in private practice for 40 years. Dr. Joy (as her patients call her) works with individuals, families and couples making transitions. So the big existential questions have special interest for her: Who am I right now? Who do I want to be? And where? And with whom?

These are essential gap year questions, especially for those in mid-life thinking about their marriage or other partner relationships and how they want to spend the time they have left. She has a special interest in couples and how they try to answer the big questions together.

When Debbie and Sam left D.C. to take their gap year, they transitioned from essentially individual pursuits to a shared life. They found themselves spending a lot more time together and decided they needed someone to help them navigate this new shared stage in their relationship. They went to Dr. Joy looking for tools to communicate better as a mid-life couple; she was terrifically helpful.

But this episode is not a therapy session. Debbie met up with Dr. Joy in her Brooklyn office to discuss mid-life and transitions, how marriages and relationships stay strong or sink, and how thinking about death can be a good thing.


Mentioned in this episode

Her website: Dr. Joy Dryer, PhD

Dr. Joy’s Acronyms:

  • MC{squared}: Money X Children X Career (plus Sex)
  • BLT (the existential questions, not the sandwich): Body, Love and Time

Definition of Existential Psychotherapy (PDF)

International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy at whose International Conference Dr. Joy recently presented a paper.


Support this podcast:


Connect with us:

Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."