McLean Hospital 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478
Gil Noam, EdD, is the founder and director of The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Noam has a strong interest in translating research and innovation to support resilience in youth in educational settings and has published over 200 papers, articles, and books on topics related to child and adolescent development and risk and resiliency. He served as the editor-in-chief of the journal New Directions for Youth Development: Theory, Practice and Research, with a strong focus on out-of-school time, and also provides consultation to youth development, education, and child mental health organizations.
Focusing on prevention and resilience, Dr. Noam trained as a clinical and developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst in both Europe and the United States. He previously served as the director of the risk and prevention program at Harvard and is the founder of the RALLY Prevention Program, an intervention that combines early detection of health, mental health, and learning problems in middle school youth, and pioneers a new professional role—the “prevention practitioner.”
Dr. Noam’s research concentrates on child and adolescent development and the adults who educate and care for them. With a dual specialization in clinical and developmental psychology, he co-founded the field of clinical-developmental psychology and contributed to the fields of developmental psychopathology and developmental psychiatry. Within these fields, he has extensively researched the concept of “resiliency,” or how children recover from growing up under adverse conditions.
Since the 1980s, Dr. Noam and his colleagues have engaged in longitudinal studies that followed McLean Hospital patients from childhood into adulthood. Through this work, they have sought to understand the factors that contributed to improvements in the former patients’ mental health. They have discovered that positive influence from child care workers during hospitalization, as well as educational attainment, play crucial roles in recovery.
These findings led Dr. Noam and his team to begin a series of “intervention” studies, where mentors with similar training as child care workers were introduced into middle schools in Boston. These interventions revealed marked improvements in the mental health of the students and led to the creation of programs that bring these workers into schools as “prevention practitioners.”
In the late 1990s, parts of the program were taken up by City Year. Over time, these programs were rolled out through City Year’s Whole Child, Whole School initiative, which currently reaches over 200,000 students in 41 school districts across the United States, as well as in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
To further this work, Dr. Noam created The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience, a translational center housed at McLean Hospital that connects developmental and resiliency research to educational practice and works directly with practitioners to inform future research. The PEAR Institute has collaborated with and been recognized by many national organizations such as City Year, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Y USA, Outward Bound, Student Conservation Association, and many school districts. It is regarded as an exemplary example of translational research.
Dr. Noam developed a developmental process theory, also known as the Clover Model, to help educators and clinicians better understand child development and the social-emotional needs of youth. This model is used as the basis of many of the assessments and programs at The PEAR Institute. To support the Clover Model, Dr. Noam and his team developed a series of tools, which includes the Holistic Student Assessment (HSA). A self-report tool that helps practitioners detect potential psychiatric problems in youth before clinical interventions are required, HSA is used widely in school and out-of-school-time programs across the US and internationally. To date, nearly 100,000 youth have taken the HSA. Based on this large data set, the HSA has national norms that allow practitioners to compare cohorts of youth with others in the same age band and gender.
The Clover Model is also the basis for Dr. Noam’s development, testing, and research of group interventions for students. These interventions focus on secondary prevention and target individuals with subclinical problems that have the potential to develop into disorders.
Dr. Noam’s work also includes studying and developing quality assessment measures for the field of informal science. He served as a committee member of the National Research Council consensus report on informal science learning that produced the book Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places and Pursuits. He also serves as a consultant to numerous NSF-funded projects and is the principal investigator of the Informal Learning and Science in Afterschool (ILSA) Project.
In addition, Dr. Noam and the PEAR team work with science, education, technology, and math (STEM)-focused programs around engagement and social-emotional development—often referred to as “21st-century skills.” For these programs, Dr. Noam developed the Dimensions of Success (DOS) observation tool, which examines program quality, as well as the Common Instrument Suite (CIS), which measures STEM engagement and connects it to 21st-century skills and measures of STEM career interest and knowledge. These tools allow for quality improvement of STEM programming through assessments of STEM and social-emotional learning outcomes.
Future work for Dr. Noam and The PEAR Institute includes shifting towards the intersection of technology and psychiatry, and exploring and creating early warning systems as well as classifications of risk and resilience in large populations.
Noam GG, Bernstein-Yamashiro B. The role of a student support system and the clinical consultant. New Directions for Youth Development 2013;(137):85-98
Malti T, Noam GG, Beelmann A, Sommer S. Good enough? Interventions for child mental health: from adoption to adaptation—from programs to systems. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology 2016;45(6):707-709.
Malti T, Zuffianò A, Noam GG. Knowing every child: validation of the Holistic Student Assessment (HSA) as a measure of social-emotional development. Prevention Science 2018;19(3):306-317.
Noam G, Heller B, eds. Psychologisches Institut: Struktur, konzeption und perspektiven. Berlin: Psychology Press, 1973.
Noam G. Studium an den Psychologischen Instituten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und West Berlin. Berlin: Psychology Press, 1974.
Lee B, Noam G, eds. Development approaches to the self. New York: Plenum Press, 1983.
Hauser S, Powers S, Noam G. Adolescents and their families: paths of development. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
Noam G, Wren T, eds. The moral self. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993.
Edelstein W, Nunner-Winkler G, Noam G, eds. Moral und person. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1993.
Noam G, Fischer K, eds. Development and vulnerability in close relationships. New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1996.
Oerter R, von Hagen C, Röper G, Noam G, eds. Entwicklungspsychologie. Ein Lehrbuch [Clinical developmental psychology: A textbook]. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz/Psychologie-Verglas-Union, 1999.
Röper G, von Hagen C, Noam G, eds. Entwicklung und risiko [Risk and development]. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2001.
Noam G, Biancarosa G, Dechausay N. Afterschool education: approaches to an emerging field. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2002.
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