Martindale psychologist shares words of optimism
By Jody Marmel
Special to the LPR
Dr. Lasser is a psychologist, professor, writer, and a local living in Martindale. He teaches at Texas State University (TSU) since 2002 and has a practice with his wife in San Marcos-Cypress Tree Psychological Services. He is a professional that shares his positive outlook with others. Today more so than ever before, Lasser’s words of wisdom and optimism are important to share with parents and families in Caldwell County.
While Dr. Lasser didn’t plan on being a psychologist, his love for learning led him on this path. He teaches graduate students in the psychology program at TSU. He said, “I love teaching and seeing the students motivated and energetic. This program is preparing them for internships to become future professionals.”
Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Lasser put in time and requested the fall to take a sabbatical. “We were going to celebrate my big birthday and had plans to travel to Europe. Even though that wasn’t possible, I have the time to do my research and continue with my books.”
Dr. Lasser co-authored the book “School Psychologist as Counselor” First edition in 2013 and the second edition was just released. The book is used at TSU, at other universities, and practitioners read it as well. The new edition is updated and includes new content. It is one of the to go to books in the field.
As a practicing psychologist mainly for younger children, he has also written articles for “Psychology Today”. He said, “We treat children like people, which is to say that we honor their unique experiences, feelings, and values. We support them best when we hear them, see them, and seek to understand them. Note that this approach isn’t about praise, rewards, or consequences. It’s all about connection.”
Dr. Lasser delved deeper into how parents look for a quick fix. “They dive into parenting books and miss the big picture. A child needs to be loved and heard.” He knows that this is hard because everyone is busy with work and now with virtual learning, parents are even busier. “Yet I see parents look at their phones more than in their children’s eyes. This has to change and perhaps with COVID, and the change of lifestyle we are experiencing, parents will take that time to hear their children and look them in the eyes as they make that connection.”
His children’s books were written with his daughter, Sage and include “Grow Happy”, “Grow Grateful” and “Grow Kind” (2020). These books were published by the American Psychological Association’s Magination Press that support healthy emotional development, and introduce concepts of mindfulness, gratitude, and coping. Lasser said, “Being outdoors and moving, either by playing, exercising, or gardening are associated with positive feelings. The books show how gardening, camping, and sharing can promote happiness.”
Dr. Lasser has always been interested in what makes people happy and focuses his children’s books on happiness and growth. He has two books coming out soon and both are about boyhood showing little boys don’t have to conform to gender role stereotypes and how Mateo, the main character in the books, fills his wagon with toys he has selected, some of which may not be considered masculine such as a tea set and a doll. “Family members add toys that they think boys like, and the wagon becomes weighed down with their expectations. His grandmother helps him remove these toys so he can play his way.”
Although Lasser is on a sabbatical and will return to TSU to teach in the spring 2021, he said that there are so many challenges teaching today. “The educational system was designed to be a social one. Since there is less face to face learning, students may feel isolated and may not get the help they need. On the other hand, those kids that are introverts may benefit from remote learning.”
Dr. Lasser said that families need to know that everyone is stressed now because of COVID-19 and how people have had to adapt to a new way of living for a while. “Be patient with one another, stay calm, and remember to show and feel compassion as often as possible.”