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.
Additionally, The Kaufmans are also the originators of The Son-Rise Program, which is taught at the Autism Treatment Center of America®, a division of the Option Institute. The Son-Rise Program methodology evolved when their son, Raun, was diagnosed with having a severe and incurable case of Autism. Refusing to give up on their son’s future, Bears and Samahria worked with Raun for over 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for more than three years, resulting in his full recovery from Autism. Raun went on to graduate from an Ivy League university, became the director of an educational center for school-aged children and for a period of time taught and assumed directorial roles at the Institute. Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues, the story of the Kaufmans’ work with Raun, became a bestselling book and the award-winning NBC TV movie based on this book was viewed worldwide.
In addition to raising their three biological children, they chose to adopt three more children from circumstances of trauma, as a way to express their gratitude for what they had learned in their journey with Raun. One of their adopted sons had been seriously malnourished, resulting in physiological, motor and other challenges. Bears and Samahria worked with him and he thrived, demonstrating a keen mind and a wonderful ability to learn. Another son, whose mother had died and who had his throat slit by his birth father, found support, guidance and love in the expanding Kaufman family. Their adoption of an eleven-year-old girl from El Salvador, also a trauma survivor, completed their immediate family. The Kaufmans have passed this tradition on to their own children, some of whom have adopted children from similar situations, further expanding their multi-racial, multi-cultural family.
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.
Bears says of his life’s work…
“For Samahria and me, we clearly see our personal challenges as gifts to help us grow stronger and to create more love and sustained happiness in our lives. Our life’s work has allowed us the privilege, honor, and blessing to be able to help others facing their own challenges. Not just to teach them how to find their own best solutions to adversity and the surprises of life, but also to teach them a solid methodology and attitude they can implement to fill their own lives with a sense of ease, self-trust, empowerment and happiness. The title of my book, Happiness Is A Choice, speaks to the heart of what’s possible – to choose happiness and love even during tough times.”
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||I’M WORTHWHILE||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:
- I can’t choose how I feel. It depends on what happens (the stimulus).
- I have to be unhappy, angry, worried, or upset in order to do what it takes to take care of myself, my child, etc.
- It’s only human to get unhappy when things don’t go the way I want.
- My mind just does what it does and thinks what it thinks. I can’t control it.
- I am how I am. I have a limited capacity to change.
High Happiness I.Q. Beliefs:
- How I feel isn’t determined by what happens (the stimulus) but by my beliefs about what happens. And I choose my beliefs.
- I don’t need to get unhappy, angry, worried, or upset in order to take care of myself, my child, etc. I just need to know what I want.
- There isn’t one predetermined “human” way to respond to things. I respond the way I want to respond, and so does everyone else.
- I am the pilot of my mind and the creator of my thoughts and beliefs.
- Since I decide who and how I am, and since I can always make new decisions, my capacity to change is limitless
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?
- All beliefs are changeable.
- Use the above questions to help yourself uncover your beliefs. Ask yourself these question in the most caring and accepting way possible.
- Uncover the belief and choose whether you want to continue to hold it or change it for a new.
- Change the belief and you change the feeling.
Testimonials for Barry (Bears) Neil Kaufman & Samahria Lyte Kaufman
– Testimonials for Bears Kaufman –
The search for peace in the world must start within the human heart and within our own families. Barry Neil Kaufman understands that. By personal example and through his writing and counseling, he gives a compelling vision for the building of inner and outer peace.
President Jimmy Carter
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Barry Neil Kaufman champions making the choice to believe in ourselves, to be hopeful and seize the power of loving ourselves and others.
Head Football Coach, University of Notre Dame
Inspiring, groundbreaking and visionary. Barry Neil Kaufman’s work is the science of love, compassion and insight which will transform the world.
M.D., Author, Quantum Healing
They should win a Nobel Prize for love.
Dr. Wayne Dyer
Ph.D., Author, The Power of Intention
I have long admired the work of Barry Neil Kaufman. He reveals the options and choices we can all make to find the road to happiness. Simple and effective for all.
M.D., Author, Love, Medicine, and Miracles
Barry Neil Kaufman’s work affirms the unlimited potential of the human spirit and offers hope to those who have been challenged by adversity.
Coretta Scott King
Founder, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Mr. Kaufman’s moving and eloquent account of his son’s recovery vividly illustrates the power of parental love expressed through imagination, understanding and perseverance . . . a remarkable adventure story.
Ah Bears, what can I say? Your teachings saved me. There are no words to express the difference my life has moved toward. Thank you for the tools and creating a place of love and safety that is so special.
Senior Administrative Assistant, New Hampshire
Bears is a sheer pleasure to listen to, be facilitated by and learn from. His compassion, magnificent and probing mind, ‘attitude’, love and vast experience make him a master teacher. Thank you Bears!
Feldenkraus Practitioner / Peace Educator, Germany
– Testimonials for Samahria Kaufman –
Samahria Kaufman is a perceptive, wise, patient and inspiring woman, a bright light whose presence is tremendously healing and comforting to every person she touches. Her passionate love for her autistic son, moved her to create and tirelessly continue the innovative process that has healed so many children and their parents for decades. Offering the same deep acceptance she utilized in dealing with autistic children in teaching adults, she changed my life forever. By modeling acceptance, she taught me how to love myself and others.
Family Counselor, New York
To have this fabulous, fiesty little lady who founded this whole earth-shattering program come bursting into our living room on Tuesday morning had an astonishing, uplifting impact on our week. Her warmth, her wisdom, her wit and humor, her insight, her common sense, and that unforgettable laugh! She filled the room with enriching energy, practical advice, and sheer fun.
Son-Rise Program Dad, United Kingdom
Samahria, through her passion and love for teaching The Son-Rise Program, has enabled me to reach my son Blake at a level of complete love, acceptance, language and communication. Her wisdom, humor and dedication has helped my son Blake, 12, be able to talk, laugh, sing and see the world as an exciting and caring world something that he now takes part in. Samahria is a true beacon of what love is about and it shows in every breath of her being. Blake will now attend public school thanks to her love and dedication.
Such a model of love, kindness, laughter, joy, connection, incredible caring – she sweeps you forward with a soft but powerful strength – she adds so much at just the right time, exuberantly and so appropriately. What a spirit! What a contribution!
Financial Planner, California
The warmth of a mother and the wisdom of a sage.
Manager /Lecturer, Bosnia
You are an exceptional woman! What a shining example of strength and love and humanness. I look forward to connecting deeper with you.
Community Service Worker and Counselor, Canada
Energetic, outrageous, exceptional woman, an absolute inspiration; she embodies everything we can be. Samahria’s energy is so powerful that she fills the whole room and is so giving, loving, and accepting of everybody. It’s like she has a fine tuned radar to know who to go to and how and when to stretch them.
Son-Rise Mom, Spain
Samahria is my second mother, with the wisdom of 10 women. She is fun, spunky, funky, and yet extremely professional and always seems to hit the nail on the head—Always!
Samahria is deeply loving with a clarity and force which continually challenges us to question the beliefs we have chosen to adopt for ourselves in every area of our lives. She teaches us to question ourselves on the most daring and profound level. I am deeply honored to know her and learn from her.
Educational Therapist, New Jersey