A teacher enlarges people in all sorts of ways besides just his subject matter. – Wallace Stegner
As students, many of us possess a great deal of curiosity about the unknown lives of our professors – the journeys that led them to their present careers and what it is that they do outside of the classroom to fuel the wisdom and insight they bring to the podium. Recently, we touched base with Andria Glasser Das, PsyD, who teaches Assessment of Intelligence at GSEP’s West LA campus, to get a glimpse of her interests and work outside of Pepperdine. Here’s what she had to say…
What are your primary clinical interests?
The main focus of my clinical practice is psychoeducational assessment, in which I seek to find out why a child or adolescent is having trouble in school. My assessments include evaluation of cognitive, executive and adaptive functioning, visual and auditory processing and memory and language abilities.
Do you have a particular theoretical orientation?
No, but I frequently use Cognitive-Behavioral interventions in my treatment recommendations.
Are you currently working on any research? If so, what is the focus of your research?
About 12 years ago, I started writing a book called “Marriage After Motherhood,” about the impact of children on the marital relationship. As part of my research for the book, I launched an online survey through which I obtained nearly 200 participants. The survey yielded great statistics as well as a wealth of qualitative information. Unfortunately, I haven’t put in the time necessary to finish the book. Maybe someday…
Who or what inspired you to get into your current profession?
I enjoyed assessment from my first class in graduate school. I noticed that most of my peers did not share my enthusiasm for the subject so I thought it might be a good niche for me. Assessment suits my personality and my lifestyle. It is highly structured but not rigid. There is flexibility in the selection of instruments for each individual battery. There is art in not only the interpretation and synthesis of test scores, but also in the administration and scoring of tests, while still maintaining standard protocol. I love the process of discovery—where each new test exposes information that confirms or refutes my hypotheses, or suggests new ones. It is like a mystery that unfolds revealing not only the client’s deficits, but their strengths as well. I like figuring out ways to leverage a client’s strengths to compensate for their weaknesses and help them maximize their potential. Also, as a mother of 2 children, I appreciate the flexibility that assessment offers in terms of making my own schedule. Since the bulk of assessment work is scoring, interpretation and report writing, much of my work can be done at home. I try and schedule clients for test administration during the day while my kids are at school and then I can be home by the time they get home. I’m working, but I’m home.
One piece of advice you have for students working toward their MA in psychology?
Actively participate in your classes as much as possible. Your professors will be among those who will write your letters of recommendation for doctoral programs, clinical placements or jobs. The more familiar they are with you, the more specific they will be able to be in their letters. Also, the more they know you, the more likely they will be to take on the role of mentor, serving as a resource for your professional development.
What’s one interesting fact about you?
I have a birthmark on my knee that disappears when pressed.
What’s something that inspires you?
I am inspired when I see young people who have put in the time and dedication to excel in something beyond school, whether in music, art, dance, athletics, robotics or in launching a business idea.
Something that turns you off?
Seeing children glued to electronics. I have seen toddlers in restaurants or in their strollers with a Nintendo DS or an iPad. These devices are used by parents the same way that TV was used a generation ago—as a babysitter, keeping the child occupied and quiet. This is even more dangerous though, because these devices are portable so a child (or parent) is often never without them. I don’t think that kind of constant stimulation is good for the developing brain or for social development.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
“Eat, Pray, Love.” It is not the kind of book I usually read. I am more of a James Patterson or Jonathan Kellerman murder mystery kind of person. However, I took a continuing education class in mindfulness and the instructor showed the class Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on the nature of creative genius. She was such a compelling speaker and showed such amazing insight that I decided to give the book a try. I am really enjoying it.
What do you need to start your day?
I need more sleep, but usually a chocolate muffin will have to suffice.
How do you unwind at the end of your day?
I play a couple of rounds of QuizUp on my phone (usually the Psychology category) followed by a couple of games of solitaire, also on my phone. Or I read until my eyes start closing.
When I’m not teaching or seeing clients, you can find me…
My children are very involved in music so a lot of my time is spent at high school football games, concerts or competitions. My older daughter is in her high school marching band, jazz band, concert band, mariachi group and drumline. She plays tenor sax, oboe, mellophone, trumpet and vibes. My younger daughter is in her middle school jazz band, concert band and mariachi group. She sings and plays trombone and trumpet. They usually have some musical event on the weekend that I want to go to. I work on my writing when I feel inspired—either “Marriage After Motherhood,” a novel I’ve been working on for several years, or just short articles or anecdotal pieces. Recently, a friend invited me to bingo night with a group of women that has been meeting once a month for 16 years. It seems like an “old lady” thing to do, but it was a lot of fun and I won some good prizes (chocolate bars and a GoGo pillow) and I’m getting to be an old lady anyway, so this might become a permanent fixture in my social calendar.
Favorite words to live by?
“There but for the grace of God, go I.” Keeping this sentiment in mind helps me in both my professional and my personal lives by increasing my empathy, reminding me to avoid judgment and allowing me to feel connected with people regardless of their situation.