Melanie has been a speaker at venues such as The American Psychological Association, The National Organization of Women Business Owners, Catholic Charities, and University Psychology Departments. She has also spent more than a decade teaching graduate courses and workshops.
Melanie’s talks address topics such as stress-management, mindfulness and emotional intelligence, neuroplasticity and positive brain change, resilience, willpower and grit, growth mindset, managing anxiety, overcoming trauma, positive psychology, negotiating relationships, leadership, health psychology, and personal development.
Melanie’s relatable, warm, and engaging presentation style has garnered high praise from attendees and organizers alike. She distills a vast amount of research-based information to its essence and teaches how to apply this knowledge in practical ways in life or work. She presents a hopeful, optimistic vision and inspires others to live, work, and lead with the whole heart and mind.
FEEDBACK FROM PAST TALKS, COURSES, AND WORKSHOPS
“Very knowledgable and relatable.”
“Warm and compassionate.”
“Uses humor and personal anecdotes effectively.”
“Presents science-backed knowledge in a simple, practical way.”
“Transformed the way I do my work.”
“Engaging! Helped me take my work to the next level.”
“Provided new understandings and tools I can use with my patients.”
“I enjoyed the demonstrations and practical exercises.”
If you are interested in having Melanie speak at your organization,
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Sample Speaking Topics
The topics below are described for the general public, but they’re also easily adapted for psychotherapists. Each topic stands alone but could also form a series with two or more seminars.
Talks can be presented in 90 minutes, with adjustments for longer or shorter presentations, and/or workshops.
Click on any topic below to view a brief summary and description.
Do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get things done? Is your life so hectic that there’s no free time for you? Do you feel spread too thin and worn out? Are you frazzled and irritable? This presentation explores the modern epidemic of “busyness.” It describes the costs of a hectic lifestyle on health, happiness, and relationships. It also offers practical, research-based strategies, based in mindfulness and neuroscience, for regaining balance so you can stay present and enjoy your life.
Too much stress, whether from childhood trauma, major life events, too many responsibilities and too little control, conflictual relationships, or ongoing financial pressures can endanger your long-term health and happiness. Your brain’s stress response puts into play hormones and neurotransmitters that cause inflammation, high blood pressure, impaired immunity, and heart disease. In this talk, you will learn about the brain’s stress response and the short-term and long-term effects of stress on health and emotional functioning. You will also learn strategies to lower your stressful demands, find stress relief, protect your health, develop a growth mindset and grit, and transform your stress into passion and positive motivation.
Let’s face it – modern times are stressful! Between the mad dash to meetings or school drop-offs, the dreaded daily commute, tragedy in the news, and the constant demands to do and be more, you may be feeling keyed up, irritable, or worn out. Although you can’t avoid many of the things that stress you out, you can control how you respond to stress before it takes over your life. Science shows that the way you perceive your stress is just as important as the actual events in determining the outcome. A stress-proof brain begins with changing your attitude towards stress. In this talk, you will learn how to overcome unhealthy attitudes to stress such as a fixed mindset, avoidance, tunnel vision, fear-based thinking, self-criticism, perfectionism, or rumination. You will learn tools from mindfulness, neuroscience, and positive psychology that can provide a recipe for resilience, allowing you to build a more tolerant, stress-proof brain.
Nobody likes to be criticized, especially by those close to us such as partners, family, and friends, or those we work closely with like bosses, employees, colleagues, or customers. A first impulse is often to get defensive, shut down, or counterattack. Yet these responses are often ineffective at solving problems and can exacerbate the situation, ruin relationships, and make you look bad. Learn how to take a mindful pause to manage your emotional reactions rather than responding automatically. In this talk, you will learn skills like mindfulness, perspective-taking, an observer stance, compassionate communication, and setting boundaries so you can deal effectively with criticism. You will also learn a nuanced approach in which you tailor your response to be most effective with a particular person and situation.
When you feel depressed or stressed by a situation, it’s often because of the way you are thinking about it. Your brain reacts automatically to perceived threats by sending you into “fight, flight, freeze.” You can get stuck in a tailspin of imagining negative future possibilities or blaming yourself for past mistakes. You can over-think things to the point where you are unable to act. Depression and anxiety can bias the way you think about stressful situations so you see them in black and white, put too much blame on yourself or others, overestimate the likelihood or impact of negative outcomes, or operate from a sense of threat, fear, and scarcity. In this talk, you will learn how to use mindfulness, emotion regulation, and logical thinking to overcome thinking traps and calm down so you can relieve stress and anxiety, think clearly and move forward.
Everybody wants to be happier but most of us go about it the wrong way. While money and material goods can make us somewhat happier, they aren’t the most important determinant of our day-to-day wellbeing. Rather, seeking fulfillment in a meaningful job or volunteer activity, exploring and creating, and building authentic high quality relationships can give us a lot of bang for our happiness buck. In addition, small things we can do every day like practicing gratitude or mindfully savoring our daily experiences can make us significantly happier. It’s all about training your mind and taking action. In this talk you will learn about the science of happiness and practical strategies to help you permanently increase your happiness setpoint.
In today’s world, we have to deal with stresses like time pressure, complex demands, tragedy or folly in the news, social and organizational change, financial pressures, and uncertainty about the future. No wonder we feel overwhelmed and stressed out! We rush around on automatic pilot, consumed by worry and tunnel vision. We feel disconnected from the substance of our lives, relationships, and world. We lose touch with our inner purpose. But there is an antidote. Learning a mindful perspective can help you calm down and feel grounded, untangle yourself from mindless or angry reactivity, help you focus and prioritize, improve your relationships, and actually rewire your brain to be happier, more focused, and more compassionate. In this talk, you will learn about the art and science of mindfulness and the brain and practical tools to integrate mindfulness into your life and work.
Being the leader of an organization or building your own company puts many demands on you. You have to deal with multiple situations at once, overcome unexpected crises and challenges, inspire and motivate employees and/or customers, cope with uncertainty and change, and stay positive through tough times. Having a brain that can manage stress effectively and not let it derail you is the greatest asset you can have as a leader. In this talk, you will learn about the stresses that leaders face, effective and ineffective responses to stress, and how to rewire your brain (and organization) to be more tolerant of stress. You will learn a recipe for resilience grounded in mindfulness and neuroscience. Learn how to deal with situations you can’t control, perceive realistic control, manage anxiety, maintain cognitive flexibility, remain compassionate, be gritty, and maintain a growth-oriented mindset. This thought-provoking talk will teach you how to use mindfulness to stay grounded, peaceful, inspired, and connected, rather than getting derailed by stress.
Tough times in life and business challenge us to be mentally tough. Stress can push us in positive ways to move out of our comfort zone, take reasonable risks, and learn new skills. When the situation is novel and uncertain, you may need to dive off a cliff to make progress. Learning the inner resource of courage can help you manage anxiety and terror and inspire others to withstand adversity. There are many different ways to show courage, ranging from taking physical risks, to exploring the unknown, to speaking up and challenging other people’s perspectives and actions. In this talk, you will learn about six attributes of courage, including feeling the fear but doing it anyway, speaking up, even if your voice shakes, and finding and maintaining passionate commitment to your values and goals in the face of challenges. You will learn practical strategies to build courage as well as how to use courage strategically and effectively, taking political climate and organizational culture into account.
The word “entrepreneur” means somebody who starts a business or enterprise and takes on risk in order to do so. It also has connotations of innovation, leadership, and far-sightedness. Have you ever wanted to move forward towards a goal or vision but felt hesitant and scared of making a mistake? Our brains are naturally wired to be averse to risk, which is why most people go with the tried and true. But some of us have an inner spark that drives us towards creating and innovating. In this talk, you will learn how to overcome internal barriers to stepping forward and to tolerate risk and uncertainty for the long haul. You will learn how to use both your brain and your heart to make good decisions and see them through to fruition. You will also learn about the psychological pitfalls you may face and how to overcome them.
Stress is the ubiquitous factor that brings clients into our offices. Teaching clients how to tolerate and cope with stress is an essential part of our work. When a client suffers from anxiety, a past trauma, chronic illness, an unhappy marriage, divorce, grief, failure, or a taxing job, we can learn to see and treat their problems within the framework of mindfulness, drawing on neuroscience. In this talk, you will learn perspectives from health psychology that define stress as a relationship between mind, body, and society. You will learn about your brain’s “fight, flight, freeze” response and how to recognize it in your clients. You will learn the difference between acute and chronic stress and when stress is helpful or harmful. You will learn about techniques like mindfulness, emotional awareness, self-compassion, healthy living, stress-resilient mindset, grit, and positive emotionality that can help you and your clients rewire your brains to become stress-tolerant.
Today’s teens are the smartest and most educated ever, but also the most stressed-out. Perhaps what’s most important now is teaching our kids to be resilient, providing them with skills to cope, handle failure, bounce back, and be autonomous and self-directed. In this thought-provoking session, you’ll learn which skills really matter in raising compassionate, happy kids that thrive. You’ll hear simple ways to help kids and teens learn to manage time and stress, gain confidence, and become more flexible and self-compassionate. You will learn to help your kids identify what they can and can’t control, move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, be gritty, stay healthy despite stress, and follow their passions despite setbacks. These skills are based in mindfulness and the neuroscience of stress and the brain, but are presented in a practical, easy to understand format.
Nearly 50 million American adults have either chronic or severe pain. Pain treatment accounts for a large share of health-care costs. Intractable pain presents challenges to physicians and patients alike. Treating pain only with pills can lead to dependence, addiction, and patient passivity. Instead, health psychology interventions and complementary medicine techniques can provide patients with practical tools to manage their pain. Pain is a mind-body issue in which life stress, emotions like anxiety or depression, negative thinking patterns, behavioral avoidance, or social relationships can both exacerbate pain and affect the way it is managed. This talk addresses techniques like mindfulness, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation, and acceptance and commitment therapy that are essential components of any successful pain treatment program.