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Education & Training

  • Fellowship, 2008
    Children's National Medical Center
  • PHD, 2007
    University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • BA, 1995
    Notre Dame of Maryland University

National Provider ID: 1528206778


Melissa O’Connell Liggett, Ph.D., is a licensed developmental psychologist in Washington, D.C., and California. She obtained a doctoral degree in applied developmental psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where her studies and research interests included child assessment, social-emotional development and family functioning in families of preterm infants. She completed pre- and post-doctoral training in the Child Development Program at Children’s National Health System where she further honed her skills in the areas of infant assessment and early identification of autism spectrum disorders.

Dr. O’Connell Liggett left Children’s National in 2009 to broaden her skills in early childhood assessment, joining the Developmental Evaluation Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, where she provided comprehensive developmental evaluations for children birth to six years of age, with a primary focus on high risk infant assessment due to prematurity or prenatal substance exposure, children in foster care, autism spectrum disorder and early attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She also worked as part of a multi-disciplinary outpatient feeding clinic for preschool-aged children.

Dr. O’Connell Liggett returned to her hometown and Children’s National in 2016. She rejoined the Child Development Program where she is now responsible for the NICU Fellows Follow-up Clinic, providing training on newborn assessment to the hospital’s neonatology fellows and follow-up developmental evaluations for graduates of the NICU.

Research & Publications

Teti, D. M., Killeen, L., Candelaria, M., Miller, W., Hess, C. R., & O’Connell, M. (2007).  Adult attachment, parental commitment to early intervention, and developmental outcomes in an African American sample at double jeopardy. In H. Steele & M. Steele (Eds.), The Adult Attachment Interview in Clinical Context. New York: Guilford Press. 

Candelaria, M. A., O’Connell, M. A., & Teti, D. M. (2006). Cumulative psychosocial and medical risk as predictors of early infant development and parenting stress in an African American preterm sample. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27(6), 588-597 

Black, M., Bentley, M. E., Papas, M. A., Oberlander, S., Teti, L. O., McNary, S., Le, K. & O’Connell, M. (2006). Delaying second births among adolescent mothers: A randomized controlled trial of a home-based intervention. Pediatrics, 118(4), e1087 – 1099. 

Teti, D. M., Hess, C. R., & O’Connell, M. A.(2005). Parental perceptions of infant vulnerability in a preterm sample: Prediction from maternal adaptation to parenthood during the neonatal period. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 26(4), 283 – 292. 

O’Connell, M. A. (2004). Siblings of children with a disability. In C.B. Fisher & R.M. Lerner (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA. 

Teti, D. M., O'Connell, M. A., & Reiner, C. D. (1997). Parenting sensitivity, parental depression and child health: The mediational role of parental self-efficacy. Early Development and Parenting, 5(4), 237-250.