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The Power of Listening

Promoting Health and Wellbeing of Children and their Caregivers

“We learn to listen by being listened to”

Claudia M. Gold MD Portrait
Claudia M. Gold MD

Books by Claudia M. Gold MD


“In this lively and riveting book, Claudia Gold and Ed Tronick show us how the successful repair of missteps and failures form the foundation of a graceful and coordinated dance between ourselves and those around us. Even if the roots of our troubles are deep in our early relationships, human connections can heal by engaging us in a new set of moment to moment mismatches throughout life and present us with opportunities for connection as long as we, and those around us, are open to repair and re-connect."
The Power of Discord Book Cover
Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Author of The Body Keeps the Score
“A very useful, thoughtful book. It lays out the best thinking of our time to help parents make decisions about nurturing their child’s development.”
Keeping Your Child in Mind Book Cover
T. Berry Brazelton, MD
Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus Harvard Medical School
"A highly readable text, wise and empathic, that integrates theory, recent research, and vignettes to guide clinicians in... listening thoughtfully to help parents resolve tensions at a very meaningful point in their child's development."
The Development of Early Childhood Book Cover
Michael S. Jellinek, MD
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
"Drawing on powerful research, as well as the timeless and insightful wisdom of Winnicott, Bowlby, and many more, Gold makes an undeniable case for the simple act of listening, an act that in many cases can be the most potent treatment available."
The Silenced Child Book Cover
Claire Nana
review at Psych Central

Listening to parent and baby together using the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system

Quotes from My Books

The Power of Discord Book Cover

From "The Power of Discord"

As I shifted from asking questions and giving advice and instead simply listened, I saw families move from anger and disconnection, sometimes through deep sadness, and then to moments of reconnection. A young child would spontaneously run into her mother’s arms to receive a hug. Often I felt a tingling in my arms, and my eyes filled with tears in the presence of rediscovered joy and love.

The Silenced Child Book Cover

From "The Silenced Child"

When we don’t listen, whether as a parent, friend, or professional, most often it is because we are overwhelmed... We want to help, but we feel helpless. We want to “do something.” But without listening, these jumps to action may inadvertently close off, or silence, a child’s communication. When we pause for a moment of human connection and communication, we discover a path to healing.

The Development of Early Childhood Book Cover

From "The Developmental Science of Early Childhood "

When a clinician makes time to listen to the story from an infant mental health frame, clinician and client have an opportunity to understand the behavior in its relational and developmental context. Behavior is a form of communication. When we understand that communication, we discover the meaning of the behavior. The path to healing becomes clear.

Keeping Your Child in Mind Book Cover

From "Keeping Your Child in Mind"

If we as a culture hold parents in mind, that is, instead of telling them “what to do,” listen to them and support their efforts to “be” with their child and understand her experience, we not only will help with “behavior problems,” but we may actually help to promote healthy brain development.


Child in Mind

Listening to a Young Family’s Suffering

In in my role as faculty of the University of Massachusetts Boston Infant-Parent Mental Health program. I recently listened to a presentation by Dr. Barbara Stroud in which she placed caring for young children and their families in the context of systemic racism. Describing "voices that have been silenced" she cautioned us to "stop talking, teaching, and intervening long enough to listen." When a month later Dr. David Willis spoke for the same program about Early Relational Health, he put my struggle with both "screening" and "assessment" into a new and interesting frame. Alluding to their judgmental nature, he looked at these constructs as "white dominant cultural products." He spoke of the need to attend to power dynamics in supporting relational health with a model of promotion and prevention. His language resonating for me with the idea of protecting space to listen from a place of not knowing; to take time to imagine our way into another persons's experience.

The Opioid Crisis: A Vicious Cycle of the Quick Fix

When a pill is the primary treatment without attention to the full relational and social context of individual suffering, people remain stuck in patterns of disconnection and harm. We see a downward spiral of intergenerational trauma and loss tearing apart the fabric of our society. One can argue that this is true of both physical and emotional pain.

Cultural Humility as Listening: The Power of Not Knowing

As a physician in training, I learned the concept “cultural competence.” The term suggested that by acquiring knowledge and information we could become experts in people different from ourselves. The current term “cultural humility” reflects a kind of humbleness of not knowing; a necessary time when we feel awkward and uneasy.