Dr Melissa Morrissey is a pediatrician with nearly 20 years experience caring for infants and families. Dr T Berry Brazelton, one of the world’s most well-known pediatricians and child development experts, taught her to observe and interpret infant behavior, and to provide expert guidance to parents. Dr Brazelton’s methods and mentorship inspires Dr Melissa to use a family centered, behavior focused approach to pediatric health care and parent counseling. Before focusing exclusively on general pediatrics, Dr Melissa worked with newborns in a hospital setting for 13 years, caring for infants and providing lactation support to new mothers. She practices General Pediatrics at Battery Park Pediatrics in New York City. While incorporating temperament into her everyday practice, Dr Melissa recognizes the limits of a traditional medical setting. She developed an integrative practice to better provide temperament based guidance and support to interested families. She is also the mother of two energetic young children who have challenged her, and helped her grow, in ways she never expected.
Education and Faculty Appointments
BA, Psychology and neuroscience, University of Colorado- Boulder.
MD, New York Medical College.
Pediatric Residency, Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons
Community Pediatrics, Anne E Dyson Community Pediatrics Training Initiative.
Pediatric Faculty Appointments, Neonatal Attending Physician and Clinical Instructor, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
Certified Breastfeeding Trainer
Certified in NBO, NBAS, and Touchpoints.
Dr Melissa has been hosting temperament and behavior parenting workshops since 2005. She trained with certified behavior specialists and gained first hand experience implementing behavior interventions.
Medical evaluations or advice can only be provided to primary care patients of Battery Park Pediatrics. Parenting services cannot be combined with pediatric primary care office visits.
About Dr T Berry Brazelton
Brazelton's foremost achievement in pediatrics and child development has been to increase pediatricians' awareness of, and attention to, the effect of young children's behavior, activity states, and emotional expressions on the ways their parents react to, and thereby affect them. For example, one of his first publications in the field of psychology was a study with Kenneth Kaye of the interaction between babies' sucking at breast or bottle and the mother's attempts to maintain it, the earliest form of human "dialogue". The Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) assesses not only the physical and neurological responses of newborns, but also their emotional well being and individual differences.
The Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) looks at a wide range of behaviors and is suitable for examining newborns and infants up to two months old. By the end of the assessment, the examiner has a behavioral "portrait" of the infant, describing the baby's strengths, adaptive responses and possible vulnerabilities. The examiner shares this portrait with parents to develop appropriate caregiving strategies aimed at enhancing the earliest relationship between babies and parents. It evaluates a wide range of 38 behaviors to build a behavioral profile of an infant up to 2 months old. The Scale contains 28 behavioral and 18 reflex items. It assesses the baby's capabilities across different developmental areas (autonomic, motor, state and social-interactive systems) and describes how infants integrate these areas as they adapt to their new environment .This approach was innovative for recognizing that a baby is a highly developed organism, even when just newly born. The profile describes the baby's strengths, adaptive responses and possible vulnerabilities.
The NBAS is based on several key assumptions. First, infants, even ones that seem vulnerable, are highly capable when they are born. "A newborn already has nine months of experience when she is born," Dr. Brazelton notes. "She is capable of controlling her behavior in order to respond to her new environment." Second, babies "communicate" through their behavior, which, although it may not always seem like it, is a rational language. Not only do infants respond to cues around them, like their parents' faces, but they also take steps to control their environment, such as crying to get a response from their caregivers. Third, infants are social organisms, individuals with their own unique qualities, ready to shape as well as be shaped by the caregiving environment.