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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

Reviews

“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.

Blog

Child in Mind

Bearing Witness to Terror: Alana and the Apricots

After a few moments Kayleigh broke the silence. "This is what she does whenever we talk about food." They now saw the fear in their daughter, but when I asked how long this fear had been present, Charese immediately thought of herself. She said softly, "Since she was born." For Charese and Kayleigh the terror we saw in Alana connected directly to their own memory of terror that their daughter might die. The feeling now expressed in Alana's behavior held a grip on the whole family. The therapy setting allowed us to slow the process down.

The Forgotten Appointment: Mismatch-Repair and Therapeutic Change

Now over a decade since my therapy ended, I understand that its enduring impact on my emotional wellbeing lies not primarily in the story I told in words but in the countless moments of moving from misunderstanding to understanding strung together over time. The microscopic mismatches in interactions contained in the office space, the larger disruptions of days between appointments and vacations, as well as some massive ruptures, including the forgotten appointment, all contributed to the process. They changed the nature of my sense of self and my relationships with people close to me.

How Psychotherapy Works: Learning from Infants

Repair Theory has significant implications for treatment of emotional suffering. It offers a model of mental health that differs dramatically from the medical model of mental illness. Rather than being fixed, our emotional wellbeing evolves in a continuous process over time. Early interactions lacking in robust repair create meanings of hopelessness that lead to emotional suffering and derailed development. New sets of relationships with different quality of interactions can promote healing and growth across the lifespan.