What We Teach

What We Teach

Principles of the Option Process® & the Option Philosophy™
Live Your Dream!

We live in a ‘victim culture’. We’re taught that our environment determines who we are. I act the way I do because of my childhood, my boss, my spouse, the weather. So we try to change our environment, including the people around us. Sometimes we get downright controlling. Or we just feel like passive victims: if only this or that would happen, everything would be just fine.

It doesn’t work that way.

Why? Because the ‘if onlys’ are always beyond our reach. There’s always something else that comes down the road: the loss of a job, conflict with children, catastrophic illness, not to mention the day-to-day difficulties of life. Here’s the twist. The Option Institute® takes the classic stimulus-response model and adds one element: beliefs. What we believe filters every stimulus we encounter. Change your beliefs.

  • Happiness Is A Choice

    Though many of us speak as if our emotions happen to us, we believe that they are responses we choose in an effort to take care of ourselves. Misery, fear, anger, distress, anxiety, and discomfort are optional, not inevitable.

  • We’ll teach you how to make that choice, no matter what the circumstances

    It begins with knowing what questions to ask.

  • YOU HAVE YOUR OWN ANSWERS

    We’ll show you how to find the answers within instead of looking to others.

  • Changing the way you see things changes everything

    Most of us think that events in our lives are inherently good or bad, and we can only hope for more good than bad.

Principles of the Option Process and the Option Philosophy

Programs at the Option Institute are based on a well defined and time-proven philosophy called
The Option Process®. On this page you can read more about our foundational principles and the benefits of The Option Process.

We’ve been educated (or mis-educated) about how life works and how we work, and this education has made life a lot harder than it needs to be. We offer our participants and students something different. Below are some key principles of the Option Process.

Hover over the pictures to learn more about our principles.

Happiness Is A Choice
Learn More
You have your own answers
Learn More
Everything we feel, say, and do has a chosen belief which fuels it
Learn More
Being non-judgmental is powerful, not passive
Learn More
Self-criticism & self-doubt may be “normal” but they aren’t “natural”
Learn More
We aren’t the victims we’re taught to be
Learn More
Authenticity, not people-pleasing, builds close relationships and safety
Learn More
Changing the way you see things changes everything
Learn More
We do not teach “the truth”
Learn More

Option Process Belief Chart
Learn more about What we Teach.


A letter from the Co-Founder of the Option Institute
–Barry Neil Kaufman

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Option Institute.

Many of us travel through life learning about different philosophical, psychological, religious and spiritual paths to find clarity, comfort and understanding about our lives and the world around us. Some of us call this the search for knowledge. Some view this as the inevitable outcome of the human preoccupation with sanity and justice. Others believe we all search for God. No matter what the rationale, all of us have a yearning for connection, communion and inner peace. Sometimes our search takes us from discipline to discipline, keeping our options open and never quite committing, we end up empty-handed. There certainly are many roads to heaven, many avenues to clarity, many routes to peace of mind and many byways to love. However, wisdom suggests we travel far enough on one of those paths to reach a destination of heaven, clarity, peace of mind or love.

We believe the personal growth programs at the Option Institute offer a path that really delivers – and it has delivered for over 35 years to our amazing program participants from over 124 countries worldwide.

If you are new to the Option Institute, our programs offer incredible opportunities to gain practical, lifetime tools to face challenges, strengthen relationships, or begin believing and living the life you want. You may want to consider Happiness GPS or Fearless, or dive right into Optimal Self Trust. For those of you already on the path of your extraordinary life, consider our core summer program Inner Strength Boot Camp.

We look forward to seeing each of you on our mountainside in the Berkshires.”

With love and smiles,

 

bears(Barry Neil Kaufman),
Co-founder of the Option Institute and Autism Treatment Center of America®
 
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What We Teach

Principles of the Option Process® & the Option Philosophy™
Live Your Dream!

We live in a ‘victim culture’. We’re taught that our environment determines who we are. I act the way I do because of my childhood, my boss, my spouse, the weather. So we try to change our environment, including the people around us. Sometimes we get downright controlling. Or we just feel like passive victims: if only this or that would happen, everything would be just fine.

It doesn’t work that way.

Why? Because the ‘if onlys’ are always beyond our reach. There’s always something else that comes down the road: the loss of a job, conflict with children, catastrophic illness, not to mention the day-to-day difficulties of life. Here’s the twist. The Option Institute takes the classic stimulus-response model and adds one element: beliefs. What we believe filters every stimulus we encounter. Change your beliefs.

  • Happiness Is A Choice

    Though many of us speak as if our emotions happen to us, we believe that they are responses we choose in an effort to take care of ourselves. Misery, fear, anger, distress, anxiety, and discomfort are optional, not inevitable.

  • We’ll teach you how to make that choice, no matter what the circumstances

    It begins with knowing what questions to ask.

  • YOU HAVE YOUR OWN ANSWERS

    We’ll show you how to find the answers within instead of looking to others.

  • Changing the way you see things changes everything

    Most of us think that events in our lives are inherently good or bad, and we can only hope for more good than bad.

Principles of the Option Process® and the Option Philosophy

Programs at the Option Institute are based on a well defined and time-proven philosophy called The Option Process®. On this page you can read more about our foundational principles and the benefits of The Option Process.

We’ve been educated (or mis-educated) about how life works and how we work, and this education has made life a lot harder than it needs to be. We offer our participants and students something different. Below are some key principles of the Option Process.

1. Happiness Is A Choice


Though many of us speak as if our emotions happen to us, we believe that they are responses we choose in an effort to take care of ourselves. Misery, fear, anger, distress, anxiety, and discomfort are optional, not inevitable. We can show you how to meet crises and challenges with comfort and ease – and to create personal happiness in a sustainable way.

 

2. You have your own answers


Oftentimes, we look for our answers from experts, institutions, the media, and the people around us – everyone but ourselves. We believe that you possess all of your own answers to the personal issues that mark your life. We can teach you to access and rely upon your own internal insight.

 

3. Everything we feel, say, and do has a chosen belief which fuels it


We filter all our experiences through our beliefs and mindsets (about ourselves, others, and events around us). These beliefs, in turn, determine how we feel and what we do. Most importantly, people’s beliefs are changeable. We can help you to examine and then re-choose beliefs which fuel comfort, happiness, and the inner strength to overcome life’s challenges.

 

4. Being non-judgmental is powerful, not passive


Most of us see making judgments (“that’s terrible,” “he’s mean”) as crucial to our moral compass and our ability to take decisive action. However, we see judgments as leading to discomfort, anger, clouded perceptions, and muddled decision-making.That’s why we help you to drop judgments, thus increasing your focus, decisiveness, and ability to handle crises.

 

5. Self-criticism and self-doubt may be “normal” (as in “usual”) but they aren’t “natural” (as in “a necessary part of the human condition”)


You are not condemned to live the rest of your life thinking that you are not good enough, that something is wrong with you, that you are not whole, that you are not okay as you are. These are learned beliefs, and we can teach you different, more self-supportive ones. Why? Because we don’t believe that anything is wrong with you, and we do believe that you are okay just the way you are.

 

6. We aren’t the victims we’re taught to be


At every turn, most of us are treated as though we are victims – of our genes, or our upbringing, or our subconscious, or outside events. We have specific self-empowering strategies to enable you to capitalize on your own ultimate capability to be in the driver’s seat in every circumstance.

 

7. Authenticity, not people-pleasing, builds close relationships and safety


Throughout our lives, we are taught to say what people want to hear, to mask our true selves, to focus on who others think we should be rather than being who we sincerely are. Most of us see this as safe – and crucial to maintaining our relationships. We see personal authenticity and honesty as the key to feeling safe (because you don’t have to live in fear of being “found out”) and creating close, meaningful relationships (because each person can know and love the other for who they really are).

 

8. Changing the way you see things changes everything


Most of us think that events in our lives are inherently good or bad, and we can only hope for more good than bad. We give you tools to change your point of view about life events. We have seen, over and over again, that learning to change your perspective on external occurrences changes your entire internal experience – which then changes how you deal with external occurrences.

 

9. We do not teach “the truth”


We do not teach “the truth.” We do not teach “the right way to live.” What we do teach are practical tools, principles, strategies and perspectives for being, overcoming life’s challenges, and sustaining personal happiness.

 

Option Process Belief Chart

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Learn more about What we Teach.


A letter from the Co-Founder of the Option Institute
–Barry Neil Kaufman

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Option Institute.

Many of us travel through life learning about different philosophical, psychological, religious and spiritual paths to find clarity, comfort and understanding about our lives and the world around us. Some of us call this the search for knowledge. Some view this as the inevitable outcome of the human preoccupation with sanity and justice. Others believe we all search for God. No matter what the rationale, all of us have a yearning for connection, communion and inner peace. Sometimes our search takes us from discipline to discipline, keeping our options open and never quite committing, we end up empty-handed. There certainly are many roads to heaven, many avenues to clarity, many routes to peace of mind and many byways to love. However, wisdom suggests we travel far enough on one of those paths to reach a destination of heaven, clarity, peace of mind or love.

We believe the personal growth programs at the Option Institute offer a path that really delivers. And it has for almost 35 years to our amazing program participants from over 124 countries worldwide.

If you are new to The Option Institute, our programs offer incredible opportunities to gain practical, lifetime tools to face challenges, strengthen relationships, or begin believing and living the life you want. You may want to consider Happiness GPS or Fearless, or dive right into Optimal Self Trust. For those of you already on the path of your extraordinary life, consider our core summer program Inner Strength Boot Camp.

We look forward to seeing each of you on our mountainside in the Berkshires.”

With love and smiles,

 

bears(Barry Neil Kaufman),
Co-founder of the Option Institute and Autism Treatment Center of America®
 
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Contact Us

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Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid

 

Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,

Jackline

 

Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar