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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

A Child’s Joy in Growing Up: A View from the Pandemic

Typically, the process of separation of child from parent takes place both gradually and relentlessly. The pandemic put a long pause on this natural progression. As we begin to resume "normal" life many will manage re-entry without significant difficulty and get back on track. But for those with a variety of vulnerabilities, the expanse of time to live in the ambivalence may lead to developmental derailment. Whether 2, 12, or 20 these children and their families will need an extra dose of listening and support to find their way forward.

Creating Space to Discover a Baby’s Intentions

In a fascinating book Becoming Human, research psychologist Michael Tomasello sees the ability to recognize each other's intentions as central to our humanness. He proposes that "the ontogeny of human cognitive and social uniqueness is structured by the maturation of children's capacity for shared intentionality." To highlight the significance of the process he writes: "Social Bonding via the sharing of emotions, attention, actions and attitudes is an evolutionarily novel phenomenon: individuals feel closer to others as they share experiences with them. This is foundational to virtually all forms of uniquely human cooperation and shred intentionality." He names the age of nine months, when this behavior first becomes easily observable, the "birth of shared intentionality."

Sensory and Emotional Experience: Linked from Birth

Recently in my role as faculty with the University of Massachusetts Boston Infant-Parent Mental Health Program I had the privilege to learn from Erna Blanche, a leader in the field of occupational therapy who trained with Jean Ayres, the mother of sensory processing theory and sensory integration therapy. She described the connection of movement with many different sensations: body position, internal workings of our bodies (interoception), and even the pull of gravity. A number of the fellows, who come from a wide variety of disciplines and from all over the world, expressed a wish to "be an OT in another life." Since I first became aware in my journey from pediatrician to infant-parent mental health specialist of the depth and breadth of knowledge in the field, I too have had the same thought.