Daniel Scott Schechter, MD

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Academic Appointments

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. Schechter is a child psychiatrist specializing in early childhood and parenting issues who currently serves in two transatlantic roles: at Columbia and NYSPI, he is a researcher in the Division of Developmental Neuroscience, and is Director of Research, Child Division of the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training & Research. And at the University of Geneva Hospitals in Switzerland, he is currently Chief of the Consult-Liaison Unit in Pediatric Psychiatry and Director of Parent-Infant Research.

He is the recipient of numerous awards/grants including an American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Pilot Research Award and Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Paper Prize in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, a Significant Contribution to Research Award from the International Psychoanalytical Association, an NIMH Research Career Award, and a Pierre Janet Paper Prize from the International Society of Trauma and Dissociation. The focus of his research is maternal posttraumatic stress disorder and its potential impact on caregiving and on the social-emotional development of very young children.

Dr. Schechter is also a graduate Solnit Fellow of Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. Internationally published, he served as co-editor of the book September 11: Trauma and Human Bonds (Taylor & Francis, Inc.) and is co-editor of Formative Experiences: The Interaction of Parenting, Culture, and Developmental Psychobiology that was published in April, 2010 (Cambridge University Press).


Our program of research focuses on the effects of mothers' violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), viewed foremost as a disorder of emotion and arousal dysregulation, on mutual regulation of emotion and arousal with their children under four years of age who are undergoing formative socioemotional development.

1. Currently, in collaboration with Michael Myers, we are investigating group differences in behavioral and autonomic nervous system and HPA-axis response to child-parent separation between mothers with PTSD and those without PTSD. We are additionally examining the relationship of maternal physiology and interactive behavior with child behavior and symptomatology.

2. In collaboration with Brad Peterson, we are investigating group differences in terms of brain activation via fMRI in response to mothers viewing video clips of child-parent separation and free-play as well as via diffusion tensor imaging.

3. Together with Susan Coates and John Grienenberger, we are investigating group differences in maternal reflective functioning and change of maternal narrative after clinician-assisted video feedback sessions.

4. In collaboration with Charles Zeanah and Mary Margaret Gleason at Tulane University, we are examining group differences in maternal media home-viewing preferences.

5. Together with Claudia Hinojosa and Jaime McCaw,we have been looking at the effects of maternal stress and emotional dysregulation on parent vs. child initiation and maintenance of joint attention during play.

6. And most recently,we have been working with Prudence Fisher and Sandra Rusconi-Serpa (Geneva) on the collaborative development of a measure of child self-endangering behavior, which we have found to be unfortunately associated with the impairment in the parent-child relationship among those mothers with violence-related PTSD.

Research Interests

  • Child Psychiatry (subspecialty: infancy, early childhood, child-parent relationship disturbances, parental mental health)
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Related Conditions
  • Psychotherapy



Sep 1 2003 - Aug 31 2008

Selected Publications

  • Schechter, DS, Willheim E, Hinojosa C, Scholfield-Kleinman, K, Turner JB, McCaw J, Zeanah CH, Myers MM : Subjective and objective measures of parent-child relationship dysfunction, child separation distress, and joint attention. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 73(2), 130-144. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes 2010;73(2): 130-144
  • Schechter DS, Willheim E: When Parenting Becomes Unthinkable: Intervening with Traumatized Parents and Their Toddlers. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2009;48(3): 665-687
  • Schechter DS, Coates, SW, Kaminer T, Coots T, Zeanah CH, Davies M, Schonfield IS, Marshall RD, Liebowitz MR Trabka KA, McCaw J, Myers MM : Distorted maternal mental representations and atypical behavior in a clinical sample of violence-exposed mothers and their toddlers. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation 2008;9: 123-147
  • Schechter DS, Zygmunt A, Coates SW, Davies M, Trabka KA, McCaw J, Kolodji A, Robinson JL : Caregiver traumatization adversely impacts young children’s mental representations of self and others. Attachment and Human Development 2007;9: 187-205
  • Schechter DS, Coates SW: Relationally and Developmentally Focused Interventions with Young Children and Their Caregivers Affected by the Events of 9/11. In Y. Neria, R. Gross, R. Marshall, E. Susser (Eds.) September 11, 2001: Treatment, Research and Public Mental Health in the Wake of a Terrorist Attack , Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA, 2006