The Practice Lab helps the people powering organizations – teaching individuals and teams how they make sense at work. We specialize in training on how mental health can drive performance in high-achieving, high pressure cultures and organizations.
The Practice Lab was founded in 2022, when we noticed that more and more high achievers were reporting feeling anxious, inadequate and lonely. Life started to revolve around work, and work felt dreadful. We believe that people make sense, and our work is to help clarify not only why it makes sense that we feel so unwell, but also what helps. At the Practice Lab we know that mental health drives performance. We want you to know that too, and also that we can practice building our mental health together.
The Practice Lab is proudly based in Toronto, Canada – and has experience with international and local organizations across a variety of industries including law, technology, government, travel and financial services.
Toronto is the traditional and present day territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse nations of indigenous peoples as well as the descendants of settlers (like us). The land on which our office rests, as well as Canada more broadly, has been the site of human activity for many thousands of years, and we are committed to the reconciliation and healing of that complicated history in the present.
We are deeply committed to delivering impactful results for you, your team and organization. Our collective experience across industries, functions and geographies enables us to connect meaningfully with your people.
Kara Hardin (she/her), Founder and CEO of The Practice Lab, is a mental health educator, Registered Psychotherapist, and former practicing corporate and securities lawyer, who works at the intersection of mental health and performance. She specializes in the complicated ways that mental health drives performance and how it shows up at work. She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) and a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Kara’s core values are learning and kindness. In her free time, she can be found either knee deep in a pile of very mediocre mystery books or walking her dog Maple.
Evan Shuster is the Chief Growth Officer of The Practice Lab, having spent the last 15 years in progressive Marketing & Sales leadership roles with Fortune 500 and startup organizations in the CPG, financial services and energy industries. He holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University. Evan’s core values are connection and humour. In his free time, Evan enjoys perfecting his homemade pizza and cheering for one of his many favourite disappointing sports teams.
We practice what we preach, that’s why it’s in our name. Here are the values we practice prioritizing and adhering to in all of our engagements:
First and foremost we believe people make sense, especially if you understand their context. We work to create and participate in brave communities where people have the space to exist and grow together, just as they are (the paradox is definitely messy, it’s also fundamental).
Working with Kara Hardin was a transformative experience for our team at Uber. From her group training sessions to her one-on-one consults, Kara was able to drive a shared understanding of mental health and its impact on performance amongst our team, all delivered in a fun and engaging way.
If you care about the health of you and your team, and you work in a start-up or high-growth organization, you have to work with Kara. Her thinking is transforming the way we understand mental health at work. She tackles serious ideas with actionable practices, take-aways, much-needed warmth, and lots of humour. I can’t recommend her work with The Practice Lab enough.
Kara is on my speed dial for many good reasons. I trust her. She is a committed coach who we have seen help many people through challenging times and knows when to connect them to additional resources. She is an excellent presenter and connects well with audiences. She combines her expertise on mental health and wellbeing with authentic warmth and compassion. She has a true passion for what she does and is committed to any organization she works with.
Kara brings authenticity, passion and a deep knowledge of both the legal profession and mental health to her work. She has helped me understand that mental health is a competency that we must develop at every stage of our people’s careers. In her presentation to our firm, Kara was able to successfully command the attention of a large virtual audience and make everyone feel heard. She inspired us to take action and gave us practical tips to do so. We are looking forward to having her back.
Kara is a joy to work with. She cares deeply about helping others, and brings extensive knowledge, passion, and humor to her work. Kara is an engaging presenter, able to capture and keep the attention of both large and small groups, in person or virtually. Kara has the unique ability to address sensitive topics in a caring, practical manner and create a judgment-free environment for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. She has a large fanbase at our firm, and we are always looking forward to her next session.
Kara and The Practice Lab offers programming that centers people. In our work together, I’ve seen the results of a custom course design that empowered people to understand their mental health at work and take away practical, easy, skills to implement into their lives post-workshop. TPL’s special sauce is that it combines the warmth and presence of a mental health practitioner, with techniques influenced by the health promotion field, to help create a safe catalyst for self reflection. As a former lawyer, Kara speaks the language of a high performer and provides the data to justify her calls to action. Her custom course was a fan favorite of the year.
I have had the pleasure of working with Kara since before the pandemic started and she has hosted multiple mental health training sessions at the firm. Kara is a true subject matter expert in the area of mental health and wellness. She brings a practical and pragmatic approach to her training sessions and participants leave with ideas to start implementing right away. She understands the daily demands a busy legal professional is under and is able to relate to her audience in a warm, empathetic manner.