The Option Institute® International Learning and Training Center, is a nonprofit, educational organization that has helped thousands of people live their very best lives – heightening day-to-day happiness, deepening their closest relationships, increasing inner strength and personal effectiveness, and overcoming life’s biggest challenges. Since 1983, our unique training courses and individual support services have helped people from over 140 countries to master issues they have felt plagued with for years. Our new E-Learning Training Courses provide an opportunity to learn and grow without you ever having to leave the comfort of your own home.
The Option Institute® International Learning and Training Center was founded in 1983 by Barry (“Bears”) Neil Kaufman and his wife Samahria Lyte Kaufman who actively teach in many of the programs offered by the institute. Barry Neil Kaufman is the best-selling author of 12 books (one written jointly with his wife) on The Option Process® and The Son-Rise Program®, including Happiness Is A Choice, Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues, and PowerDialogues. There are over three million copies of their books in print in over 65 countries. The Kaufmans are two-time recipients of the Christopher Award and, additionally, received the prestigious Humanitas Prize for their screenwriting of The NBC TV movie, Son-Rise: The Miracle of Love because it inspired audiences to believe in the dignity and inspiration of humanity.
Bears and Samahria started teaching The Option Process in 1972, and 11 years later established the Option Institute, offering personal development workshops to adults as well as counseling services for individuals dealing with trauma. The Option Institute is situated on an expansive 100-acre campus on a Berkshire mountainside in Massachusetts. In the past 40 years, we have worked with thousands upon thousands of individuals, families, and children from over 140 different countries. In 2020, the Institute migrated to presenting E-Learning Training Courses, year round, to audiences throughout the world.
The Option Institute, and the work of Bears and Samahria Kaufman, have been featured in over 2,000 articles, publications, and broadcast in major media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Parenting Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Good Morning America, and in interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue among others.
The Kaufmans’ books and works have been endorsed by well-respected figures including President Jimmy Carter, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Carl Rogers, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Bernie Siegel, Norman Cousins, Lou Holtz, John Bradshaw, and Harold S. Kushner.
The Core of What We Teach
A letter from the Co-Founder of The Option Institute – Barry Neil Kaufman“At The Option Institute, we teach people unique and practical tools to build the life experience they desire. How? “It begins with a radical departure from everything we’ve been taught. Many of us have heard of the popular psychological model of stimulus-response. The dog barks, I get scared. My friend compliments me, I feel happy. This model has helped spawn a culture where we see our emotions and experiences as being caused by people and events around us. As a result, we often try to change our circumstances and the people around us so that we can feel good or, at least, not feel bad. “This approach leaves most of us feeling like victims. We believe that, if we could just get our loved ones to treat us right, or our finances to increase, or the roads to be traffic-free, we would feel better. But there’s always something else. Even without major life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, illness or loss of a loved one, many of us experience deep distress and discomfort.
“The Option Institute modifies the stimulus-response paradigm with a simple twist. We introduce a third component: BELIEF. Every stimulus that elicits a response from us is first filtered and processed by one or more beliefs. As our beliefs change, so do our responses and experiences. This simple shift changes everything in our lives, moving us from the passenger’s seat into the driver’s seat. We call this new paradigm the Happiness GPS® because it helps you identify where you are and allows you to navigate to where you want to go (In terms of your own happiness and emotional well-being). “For instance, two parents watching their daughter getting married can have different experiences – one is happy and the other is distressed. How do we explain 2 people witnessing the same event (the same stimulus) having diametrically opposed responses? Simple – each one holds different beliefs that filter their experience of the wedding. One sees it as wonderful – believing that their daughter will be happy and the family will grow. The other sees it as terrible – believing they are losing their daughter and that they will be lonely without her. This simple illustration is a microcosm of the myriad ways our beliefs determine every response, from joy to anger, from kissing to shouting.
“The good news is: our beliefs are changeable. Our experience with thousands of people from across the globe has shown us that, when people use the tools that we provide, known collectively as The Option Process, they are able to uncover the beliefs fueling their responses and the underlying reasons for their beliefs. Moreover, they are able to change the beliefs that may be generating unhappiness, dysfunctional relationships or ineffective behaviors.
“In our highly interactive courses, we help people address ongoing challenges, find peace with catastrophic events, build more satisfying relationships and become efficient and effective at achieving their desires and dreams. We believe that the most effective way to help people change is to provide them with tools and opportunities to change, in an environment where they are completely accepted as they are, whether or not they change. We are happy to be, for many, the one place in the world where they can find just that.”
(Barry Neil Kaufman),
Co-founder of The Option Institute and Autism Treatment Center of America
Using the Happiness GPS®
|MY BOSS YELLS AT ME
|I’M GOING TO GET FIRED
|FEELING–FEAR BEHAVIOR–AVOID BOSS, JITTERY, ON EDGE AROUND HIM
|CHOLESTEROL LEVEL IS HIGH
|I’M PRONE TO A HEART ATTACK
|FEELING–ANXIETY BEHAVIOR–CAN’T SLEEP
|MY PARTNER TELLS ME HE/SHE LOVES ME
|FEELING–ELATION BEHAVIOR–HUG, KISS PARTNER
|CAR IS REAR-ENDED
|WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO ME NOW
|FEELING–ANGER BEHAVIOR–YELL AT DRIVER
|I YELL AT MY KIDS
|I’M A BAD PARENT
|FEELING–GUILT BEHAVIOR–AVOID BEING WITH KIDS
Happiness I.Q.®Definition: The measurement of a person’s capacity to choose emotional comfort and happiness irrespective of the stimulus. Happiness I.Q. is determined by core belief structures about ourselves and our ability to decide how we feel and what we think.
Low Happiness I.Q. Beliefs:
High Happiness I.Q. Beliefs:
Option Process® Dialogue: Introductory Questions to raise your Happiness I.Q.®
- What is the stimulus?
- How do I feel about the stimulus?
- Why do I feel this way?
- What is my belief?
- Why do I believe that?