Continuing To Live The Dream

Dear Bears,

I have been meaning to write you since I got home from Grand Summer Sequence but haven’t found the words I wanted until now. In the interim between Grand Summer Sequence and the Option Process® Mentor/Counselor Training program, I have been living at home and working long, long hours. At first I was lonely, but then I decided to turn this time into a powerful month of self-reflection and so I did. I wanted to tell you some of the thoughts that have been running through my head.

Bears, all kinds of miracles (miracle = something I would not have even FANTASIZED was possible!) have occurred since those 2 short months at The Option Institute. First of all, this deep spring of love for myself and others has grown, and it just keeps bubbling and bubbling and bubbling over. I sincerely love my boss at work, my friends, strangers on the bus…my family has been a bit more challenging, but I just keep plugging away and then I am able to flip my judgments and love them. I feel so relaxed and peaceful and serene-and this from the person who thought she would “die” of anxiety!

Another miracle is how available I have become to myself. I decided to explore spirituality when I got home and I, the professed nonbeliever, the ultimate cynic when it comes to religion, the one who groans when someone mentions God# I found God. Somehow I developed a deep conviction that God exists and God wants the best for me.


So I just started talking to God and asked for clarity and thanked Him? Her? for different things. It felt so natural. It was like this time I could approach God without the guilt I slopped on top of myself for so long. Well, two minutes later I was totally clear on what I wanted. But I was still scared about having no place to live, so I asked for help in choosing happiness and again, two minutes later I felt completely at peace. The next day I had such strong conviction that I would get the apartment that I wanted, and I remembered that when I had first read the ad for the apartment I knew, I absolutely KNEW, that I would end up living there. Well, I still don’t have the place secured yet so I will let you know if there is a change in plans! My point is, I am actually trusting myself and my “world” is so clear, so calm, so loving. Bears, I am in awe, in awe, in awe…I could never have imagined that a person could move through life in this way.

I remember you saying that all it took to make this Option Process® stuff come alive was “rubber to the road,” and I didn’t believe you. I put you on this incredible pedestal, believing you must be some kind of prodigy who just knew how to be happy. I figured if I could just pick you apart and memorize how you did it, I could choose happiness too. It is overwhelming to realize that I know how to do it too, and that I trust myself to do so.

I am reading A Miracle to Believe In, and the best analogy I can think of to describe what I learned is to say that I have created a Son-Rise Program® for myself since I got back to Chicago. My internal environment is so trusting and beautiful, and I feel like I have facilitated my “rebirth.” It seems like society (that big evil monster!) teaches us NOT to trust ourselves, but now I feel grounded in what I know and believe. As I read A Miracle to Believe In I sense the love you poured into each word (I made that up but I believe it!). I am so touched by your work, your conviction, by what you have discovered and dared to implement and teach to others… I feel so blessed to have learned all of this at 19 and it is an honor to know that in just a few weeks I will be able to join The Option Institute staff for a whole year.

Thank you for giving so much of yourself to others. It amazes me that I can sit here during my exciting job (was that sarcasm?) all the way in Chicago and tell you about my life and know that you care…

When I first left Grand Summer Sequence I wondered if I would be able to maintain the Option Process® attitude at home, remembering the long painful history of unhappiness I created for myself. What I have learned is that I just keep growing and growing and growing, and that I am the gentlest teacher to myself. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude and respect I have for what The Option Institute teaches.

Know that I am sending you my love everyday from the great Midwest!

With deep gratitude,

Sandra Gordon

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The Option Institute and its teachers have had the honor to present programs (during the last four decades) that explore the attitudes and beliefs we have (and may want to change) and to help program participants find their own answers to questions about relationships, careers, family challenges and health issues. Our new program, Health & Healing: Navigating Life’s Health Challenges (formerly '5 Days to Live') , focuses on navigating significant health challenges and decision-making with greater ease, clarity, and clear purpose.

We are not a medical facility and we do not dispense any medical advice. We have and would always guide our program participants, to consult with their doctors, healthcare providers, and family members in making medical decisions for themselves and those they love. Neither Mass General Hospital nor any member of its medical staff endorses any program being offered by the Option Institute and its teachers.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



PRE-REQUISITES for attending Advanced Power Dialogues are:

  • Completion of The Option Institute’s PowerDialogues program.
  • If it’s been more than 5 years since you attended PowerDialogues, please call 413-229-2100 to discuss options.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


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,



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