+852 2575 7707 drmelanie@mindmatters.hk

Overcoming Your Fear of Dogs

Overcoming Your Fear of Dogs

Long ago, in NYC, I had a beautiful, gentle Great Dane. Now and then I would encounter a mother and her 3 or 4 year old daughter in the lift when Calypso and I were going out for one of our daily walks.

The first few encounters the little girl would reach out to pet Calypso, her mother would quickly pull her back. In due course the little girl would recoil in fear when she encountered us in the lift.

She had learned to share her mother’s fear of my lovely dog.

The good news is that what can be learned can be unlearned.

The first step to unlearning a fear of dogs (or any fear for that matter) is an increased awareness of out habitual assumptions and images in the presence if the feared dog. Working with these responses on a multi-sensory, imaginary level, followed by controlled exposure can successfully resolve such fear and allow you the deep pleasure a dog can offer.

Some people need to begin by looking at picture or videos of people playing with the type of dog they fear. When these bo longer elicit a fearful response, controlled exposure can then be done.

In the presence initially of a small dog (or dogs, as in a shelter or on an Adoption Day) progressing to larger breeds. Such an approach can go a long way to resolving the fear, even with people who have been bitten as children and retain an automatic sense of fear in the presence of a similar sized dog, or all dogs.
Some puppies have been mistreated by their owners or foster ‘parents’ and have learned to cautious or fearful of people,
So it is quite possible that in overcoming your fear you may be helping a dog overcome their fear of humans.
Treat a dog kindly and you will be rewarded with the unconditional devotion and loyalty a dog is capable of giving and receiving,

Your comments are most welcome,

Dr Melanie Bryan

What is the difference between positive stress and negative stress?

Answer: Interpretation

Really, the ‘stressful’ situation, interaction or occurrence does not come with evaluation or judgment written on it; we supply that.

How we view or evaluate a circumstance triggers a cascade of mental, emotional and physiological responses that influence how we react on multiple levels in the short and medium term.

When we take our rapid interpretations as truth in the universe, we forfeit choices in how we could react if we didn’t respond so quickly. It would be helpful to consider our initial thoughts and feeling responses as a ‘speed bump’, reminding us to slow down and reconsider how else we could react. This does take practice, but is so worth the effort.

We are more likely to accept ‘positive’ stress when it is associated with an outcome we value, such as landing a new job, studying for a difficult exam, planning a wedding, having a baby, or relocating out of choice. Such stress is more likely to be viewed as normal and managed flexibly.

Conversely, we tend to evaluate undesirable outcomes, such as an unexpected job loss, illness, infidelity or divorce as highly undesirable ‘negative’ stress. In such circumstances if we focus only on the fearful, painful or depressing aspects of the situation, our negative beliefs are compounded.

Such types of interpretations leading to emotional stress lasting weeks or more can weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure, generate anxiety, depression and contribute to heart problems. Attributing such undesirable situations or outcomes to deficiencies in ourselves that are relatively fixed will intensify our negative beliefs and sense of powerlessness. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Many situations are indeed difficult and call for thoughtful consideration, emotional balance and creative responses. Accepting our knee-jerk interpretations can severely hamper such adaptive responses.

If you are having difficulty managing trying situations, do consider contacting me on +852 2575 7707 or via this link.

Melt Away Everyday Stress with Rainbow Mediation by Dr Melanie


Meditation has significant mental and physical health benefits for both adults and kids.

Both in the corporate world and at schools, short meditations bring a more relaxed and focused state, with improved concentration and ability to cope throughout the day.

Research at Harvard has shown meditation can also increase levels of a key neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain, as well as growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue.

It has also been shown to lower the heart rate, boost immune function, lower blood pressure and inflammation, increase blood circulation to the body’s tissues, promote emotional balance, and induce a state of calmness.

This link is for PC only it will not work on a Mac.
To download the meditation for a PC click the following link in blue: rainbow_meditation_mindmatters
Then UNZIP the file, and follow the instructions given.

Mac video coming soon!

Recognising and Addressing Stress in the Workplace



​Today stress is increasingly chronic and unremitting, eroding our health, productivity and coping strategies.

Hong Kong, being one of the world’s most stressful cities can make work environments a virtual pressure cooker.

Recognising the signs and causes of stress as they interrelate in our personal, professional and corporate lives is essential.

The toll on businesses runs from reduced productivity, absenteeism, and spiraling replacement and medical costs to the impact on the bottom line from erroneous executive decisions.

Dr. Melanie Bryan’s workshop ‘Addressing Stress in the Workplace’ will equip you to identify and resolve many of the sources of stress and offer essential guidelines to becoming healthier, happier, & more effective human beings.

Dr. Melanie Bryan consults to corporations in Asia equipping HR and department managers to tackle this rising trend which impacts increasingly on wellbeing, productivity and the corporate bottom line.

A preview of her workshop presentation may be viewed upon request.

For a no obligation on the benefits and cost of delivering this workshop please contact Dr Melanie.

Caught in the Middle, Children and Divorce

Parental conflict is hard on children at any time, all the more so when their parents are separating or divorcing. And when the former spouses are unable to establish a cooperative, responsible co-parenting relationship with each other following the divorce, the negative impact on their children is compounded.

The good news however, is that separation and divorce need not be a catastrophic experience for children. A majority learn to adjust to the initial disruption of their family without many psychological and social scars and become well-functioning adults. Contributing factors to a child’s positive adjustment to separation and divorce, especially during the first year, are strongly associated with the degree of parental conflict to which a child has been exposed. Many studies have documented a correlation between parental conflict, it’s duration and resolution and a child’s stress levels, as well as post-divorce adjustment. When both the residential and non-residential parents are aware of the potentially harmful impact of exposing their conflicts to their children, they endeavor to shield them from such disputes. In the heat of separation and divorce demands, protecting children from emotional distress and frustrations requires parents to be able to work with their own emotions and those of their children, seek support from family and trusted friends, and/or a qualified therapist or divorce coach while pursuing healthy outlets. Creating a stable home life during this time of upheaval benefits everyone concerned.

When parental conflict becomes intense and frequent, the stress on the children mounts as well. Some parents have difficulty establishing boundaries between themselves and their children, so the children may often overhear or are witness to parental anger and aggression around ongoing conflicts. Especially when the disagreements concern them, emotional and behavioral difficulties in the children are likely to develop. Conversely, when parents model healthy conflict resolution for their children, through negotiation and compromise, it can enhance their social skills.

Not all expressions of conflict are overt however. Parents who model withdrawal or discourage open dialogue with their children around the separation and divorce issues are encouraging unhealthy internalization of their negative feelings. Better to encourage children to feel safe asking their questions and receiving answers that are clear and concise, without blaming or making harsh judgments or snide remarks about the other parent. Denigrating a parent puts a child smack in the middle of a loyalty conflict that children find extremely distressing.

Other examples of being caught in the middle include having to carry messages between parents, feeling disloyal by being pressured to answer questions about the other parent’s behavior, or hearing derogatory comments about the other parent.

Parents who are not able to separate their emotional needs from their childrens needs, cannot protect them from their own hurt and agitation. Rather than focusing on the child’s needs, such parents may confide in their children or turn to a particular child for comfort. This is known as parentification and places a tremendous burden on a child.

Moderate levels of instrumental parentification such as cooking meals, looking after their siblings or doing housework can teach a child responsibility, while moderate levels of emotional parentification such as comforting siblings, can teach a child empathy. High levels of parentification demands are associated with adjustment problems. For girls from high-conflict divorced families both types of parentification are associated with girls’ depressed and anxious behaviors; for boys, high levels of emotional parentification by fathers are associated with sons’ depression. (Heatherington).

There is a strong association between children’s mental health and parental conflict, even when children do not display awareness of the conflict. When a child is alienated from a parent or exposed to contentious child custody litigation or visitation battles or other failed parenting responsibilities, emotional and behavioral problems such as anxiety or depression, aggressiveness, or poor impulse control are likely to surface or increase.

Children often feel responsible for their parents separation and conflict and may try to intervene in the conflict. Ineffective parenting will increase their stress, which may be reflected in signs of guilt, sadness, manipulation, declining academic performance and problems with friends, phobias or compulsive behavior.

Helping parents help their children adjust to divorce includes guiding parents to move beyond their anger, reduce their parental conflicts and triangulation of the children to develop agreement on rules and predictable expectations that minimize stress on their children, develop more effective parenting skills and foster a healthy connection between family members during divorce, and a positive adaptation to the relational changes post-divorce. Such cooperative parenting also encourages healthy self-esteem and effective communication skills not only in their children but in their parents as well.

Possible Stress Reactions in Children* Age: Signs of Stress Birth to 3 Regression, separation anxieties, eating and sleeping problems, tantrums, aggression, possessiveness, withdrawal. Preschool Irritability, “too good behavior,” aggression, need for physical contact, sadness, self-blame, fear of abandonment and loss of parental love. Ages 6 to 12 Sadness, fear of abandonment, guilt, anger, fantasizing reconciliation. Adolescent Open hostility at parents, acting-out behavior, school difficulties, aggression or withdrawal, difficulty with peers, dependency on others. *Adapted from Kersey, k. (1986) Helping your child handle stress. Washington, D.C.: Acropolis. Heatherton, E.M. (1999) (Ed.), Coping with divorce, single parenting and remarriage.

About Phobias


​The word anxiety comes from the Latin word anxius, meaning a condition of agitation and distress. The term has been in use since the 1500’s.

Anxiety is not fear, or common every day momentary apprehension, which has an external focus such as being fired, being rejected, failing at something, or being stalked. Rather, anxiety is more intense, does not pass quickly, can persist for a considerable time and can lead to phobias that organize your behavior in self-limiting ways.

The center’s findings suggest it is desirable to identify youngsters who are beginning to have the problem and help them deal with their symptoms while they are in their early teens, rather than later in life, when the problem can become debilitating. A Social Phobia is a common anxiety disorder that centers around a fear of being embarrassed or humiliated in social, professional or performance situations where you are (or feel) vulnerable to the negative judgments of others. The most common social phobia is the fear of public speaking, which the fearful speaker seeks to avoid at all costs. While most people have experienced the “butterflies”, increased perspiration and trembling hands or legs, these same symptoms hijack and overwhelm the fearful speaker and consume him with dread and an intense desire to escape. (See Fear of Public Speaking). Treatment can often resolve this fear fairly quickly.

Other social phobias, all of which are treatable and resolvable, include fear of being watched at work, fear of writing or signing documents in front of others, blushing or eating in public or any social or group situation where one may be watched or judged and hence humiliated.

In contrast, a person with a Specific Phobia has a significant fear of a particular object or situation. When confronted with the prospect of facing the feared situation or object, the phobic person may respond with mild anxiety or panic. However, there is no fear of panic attacks as in agoraphobia, or of embarrassment as in a social phobia, but only of the feared situation itself, which s/he believes is a dangerous one. The fear and avoidance are strong enough to intrude upon and constrict his or her normal routines, (depending on the focus of the phobia) impact work and relationships and are quite disturbing to the phobic person. (See Fear of Flying.)

Common specific phobias include animal phobias, acrophobia (fear of heights), elevator, airplane, doctor or dentist phobias and countless others. These specific phobias occur in men and women equally. Animal phobias tend to be more common in women while illness phobias are more common in men. There are many treatments for specific phobias, depending on the phobia and its development, and usually include hypnosis, real-life exposure utilizing EFT and other forms of desensitization.

Agoraphobia refers to a fear of open spaces (literally fear of the marketplace). A fear of panic attacks is the hallmark of this fairly common phobia coupled with a fear of being alone, and leads to avoidance of places associated with the initial and subsequent panic attacks. The agoraphobic greatly fears loss of control and thus embarrassing themselves in public. Without treatment their lives can become more and more restricted in their quest to feel safe and in control.

In Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) a deeply anxious feeling prevails in response to a vague or unspecified danger and can result in a chronic state of tension which can affect major systems of the body. GAD is not usually accompanied by panic attacks, phobias or obsessions. A person with GAD worries to excess about a range of fears including being rejected, failing, losing control or disease, death or dying. I have found EFT and hypnosis to be particularly helpful with GAD.

Perhaps the most extreme manifestation of anxiety is the panic attack, a sudden surge of intense fear or apprehension, or an overwhelming sense of impending doom. Although the onset of the initial and sometimes subsequent episodes of a panic attack seem to come out of the blue, they often follow a prolonged period of intense stress and can include a range of symptoms including heart palpitations, sweating, nausea,, shortness of breath and many more. (See Held in the Grip of Panic.)

Anxiety that affects your entire being. On a physiological level, it may include reactions such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension or dry mouth. On a behavioral level, it can undermine your ability to act, express yourself or deal with certain everyday situations. And on a psychological level, anxiety is a subjective state of apprehension and uneasiness. In its most extreme form, it can cause you to feel detached from yourself and be fearful of dying or going crazy (See Held in the Grip of Panic).

Because Anxiety is so pervasive and potent on all these levels, freedom from an anxiety disorder is accomplished by addressing the need to reduce physiological activity, eliminate avoidance behavior and change catastrophic visualizations, interpretations and beliefs that perpetuate a state of apprehension and worry. Energy techniques can also aid in more rapid resolution of these reactions. (see EFT) along with a range of other techniques.