Claudia Luiz is the winner of the 2008 Writer's Digest award for Best Writer's Website, and the 2006 winner of the Phyllis W. Meadow Award for Excellence in Psychoanalytic writing.

Dear Claudia,

What does Cert. Psya. mean? What is your specialty? What are some ways I can enjoy my family more? Mother in Canton

Dear Canton Mom,

Cert. Psya. distinguishes me as a Certified Psychoanalyst. A psychoanalysts completes eight years of classroom study, a three-year hospital internship, a subsequent three year internship working with patients at the school’s treatment service, a final dissertation, two oral presentations, and completion of a personal training psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis offers one of the most rigorous training programs in mental health. As for my specialty, are you ready? It’s suffering. This may not sound like much fun, to specialize in suffering, but I love my work. As soon as someone walks into my office, I know they have within them a desire for relief from suffering. In fact, it’s the people who I know are suffering and won’t get into therapy that I spend nights worrying about.

How can this relate to you, dear Canton Mom? Well, if you are one of those people, and on some days we all are, that can’t push negative feelings aside - despite your best efforts- I have found that it may be best to talk about them. Personally, I like my patients to come and see me two to four times a month, and to lie down and use the “couch” like in the Woody Allen movies. I find it really helps them feel they are in a special place free of social demands and pressures, where they can just let their minds unfold. It creates a special atmosphere where you can process your challenges, feel understood and compartmentalize your problems. Long, long, long after completion of my academic requirements, I continued with my own analysis.

Without question, Canton Mom, things are especially difficult these days. High expectations and demands breed a lot of frustration. Frustration breeds irritation. Irritation breeds low self-esteem which breeds self-punishment. Relaxing then feels undeserved, and fraught with guilt. It’s hard to break this cycle. To enjoy your life and your family more, however, this cycle must be broken. It is not always possible to do this without therapy, because, as you may have discovered, you can’t always teach yourself to have a feeling that you don’t have it!

The secret ingredient to enjoying your children is feeling like a good mother. Tension can interfere with having that feeling. If your tensions are overwhelming, psychotherapy most certainly can help.


Claudia Luiz is a psychoanalyst. She also has an Ed.M. from Harvard University and an MA from the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis in Brookline, MA, this country's first accredited psychoanalytic institute. That's where Claudia got her clinical degree in psychoanalysis, training and then working modern analytically in the wards of Metropolitan State Hospital, Children's Hospital, and dozens of other non-profit agencies in Greater Boston. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.

© 2005 all rights reserved