CPPNJ - The Center for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of New Jersey


Graduation Speech: Marilyn Legato

Hello everyone.

Well, it’s been along time getting here, and sometimes the road has been quite bumpy, but I have to say I am very happy to be here tonight.

Being with the Institute has given me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally and I would like to thank as many people as I can remember who helped me in various ways during the past years.

My first contact with CPPNJ was with Al Shire. So many colleagues and my then supervisor had advised me not to go to an institute of psychoanalysis that I was undecided about making that huge commitment. I was an advance practice nurse and had graduated from a 2 year program in family and couples therapy, but I still felt that something was missing.

An acquaintance who graduated from IPPNJ advised me to call Al. Al was so friendly and talked with me as if he had all the time in the world. He was so helpful that I decided this must be a great place to attend.

Thanks to Al, I applied and was accepted. Initially I found myself in classes with lots of psychologists that it was easy to feel as if I didn’t measure up. Luckily, I had to take classes in Bergen County where I met and went to many classes with Janet Mayer and Ozzie Haller and we have remained close friends to this day. I also was lucky to have Joe Braun, Cheryl Nifoussi and Charlotte Kahn as instructors. Their support and ability to convey their knowledge was inspiring and helped me grow in confidence and practice.

Back in those days, I first met Natalie Brown whose support and guidance got me to the point of being able to take and pass the RFC. Since that time, I also came to know Natalie as an instructor and later as an analyst. So I have known Natalie for many years and she has always been a great source of comfort, support and encouragement for me. I feel like I have know her all my life, and that’s almost true.

Passing the RFC was a great booster for me and I remember being in Ronnie Bearison’s class on Object Relations at that time. Being in class with Ronnie is like meeting a few friends for tea or soda and cookies. Ronnie’s warmth, acceptance and knowledge made learning interesting and almost easy. I remember going to class after passing the RFC and Ronnie had actually set up a party with decorations and goodie to eat. She went out of her way to make the occasion even more memorable.

Ronnie became my supervisor for several years after that. I remember her trying so hard to help me to get a handle on my negative counter-transference. That was especially true in one session where she nearly jumped out of her chair in exasperation, probably feeling the frustration and anger that she was trying so hard to help me own for myself. You tried, Ronnie!

The next years held lots of bumps for me, both personally and professionally. I took a break from classes until a few years ago when I saw that Irwin Badin was giving a class in Relational Theory. I decided to give it a try, even though I really didn’t need any more courses under my belt. I really enjoyed it. I felt like it really fit.

Joining Nancy McWilliams’ group supervision and taking Tom Johnson’s couples course added to my feeling of comfort with approaches that felt good at the core. I joined Irwin Badin’s supervision group. Irwin taught me 2 very important ideas.

1. It’s OK to not know.

2. Anxiety interferes with the ability to really “be there” with the patient.

Becoming more at ease with “not knowing” helped me to be less anxious and enabled me to “know more” – to better connect with patients. Thank you, Irwin.

This past year, following the recommendations of many others, I started supervision with Nina Williams. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. Thanks so much Nina, for your encouragement and faith in me, your ability to teach so well. You are truly inspiring and your personal and professional help have been invaluable to me.

I’d like to give special thanks to Joe Braun, too. Although it’s been many years since I’ve taken any classes with him, Joe was always there to listen, to help sort things out and help restore my self-confidence. Thank you, Joe!

I know there are others I’d like to thank: Monica Carsky, Lois MacLean and surely others whose names I am forgetting just now.

But I can’t forget to thank my family, my husband of 48 years, Gerry. If you need anyone to consult with, Tom, just ask us. We have lots of experience. Also My children: Marianne, Mark, Steve and his wife Sharon, and our daughter Nancy who couldn’t be here tonight. Thanks for your patience and your love. These mean the most to me.

Looking back, I think I know more about what was missing. Yes, learning more clinically was extremely important. But I think was even more important was learning to have more faith in myself. This is something that has come to me from engaging in the 3 important aspects of training: supervision, classes and personal psychoanalysis.

I am so proud and happy to be graduating from CPPNJ. You are all great people and it has been wonderful to know and work with you all.