Recovering from Anxiety and Depression

Dear Bears and Samahria,

Thank you very much for an exceptional experience at the Option Institute. Your staff and the two of you have made a stunning impact on my life. It has only been ten days since the last class, but I already know that I’ve shifted the way I perceive the reactions I have to troubling incidents in my life.

As you know, I came to the option Institute because of the loss of my husband and through encouragement from close friends Tifani and George Wells, and our mutual friends Wally and Marilyn Olson, who attended a Happiness Option Weekend last year. They were right to encourage me. I am in general a very positive, happy person. Some tend to call me a “Pollyanna.” I lost that perspective when my dear Rick passed away: we had had an exceptionally close relationship and many looked up to us as an example of how marriage could be. That to me is interesting because Rick and I had to work hard to keep it balanced and many people think that “true love” needs very little work to be sustained. You probably got insight into that, Bears, when I blurted out that I had been married to two angry men. That was a watershed moment for me because I never acknowledged out loud that I struggled with Rick’s anger problems. The greatest issue for me I discovered during the week with you is that I still considered myself married even though Rick had died in February 2005.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve discovered how powerful the Option constructs are. I brought back with me the 12-set CD collection and the Power Dialogues book. I have been listening to the CDS as I drive and have been reading before I go to bed at night. The result is that I have tools now to deal with my moments of distress, and the dialogue tools diffuse my anxiety in very short order.

My youngest son left on August 5 for one year to live and teach in Japan. I missed his call before he boarded the plane. My first reaction was to become anxious. I asked myself what were my beliefs that caused me to feel this way. I realized two: that I thought I’d never see him again and that he needed to speak with his mother last because somehow that would give him a magic spell that would keep him safe. As I figured each of these beliefs out, I threw them “out the window.” The resulting response is that I’m happy that he is having this most exciting opportunity. This morning I spoke with him and, of course, he’s fine.

Last Thursday night as I was getting ready for bed, I found myself spiraling down into depression. I asked myself the same question. By taking each answer and noting what I’ve been doing to restructure my lifestyle, I realized that I am negotiating through this new life of mine actually very well. That assessment includes coming to the Option Institute. In less than 10 Minutes, the depression lifted and I was able to go to sleep without nightmares and without fitful interruptions.

Your discussion, Bears, about ontology and epistemology is interesting to me. When you explained that all belief is left-brained and logical, it was a “light bulb” moment for me. I never considered that. I guess I thought that at least some of belief is ontological, but it isn’t! As a visual artist, I tend to search for the essence of things and think that truth, as I know it, is innate. Well, now I realize that I choose my truths and this gives me a real sense of freedom and power.

I’ve made what I think is an interesting link. In my studies, I had latched on to Wittgenstein’s “language games” theory—specifically that people change the game in conversation and often do not let the other person know that they have. This consequently causes misinterpretation and difficulty between people. I like Wittgenstein’s view of dialogue and it seems to mesh with yours. People’s motivations are personal constructs that others cannot fully know. So, as you have said, we are our own best experts. I like that.

Samahria, your directed meditation placing us in a perfect spot for ourselves, meeting our perfect partner, and then later seeing our present partner was perhaps one of the most enlightening moments I had. It is the moment I realized that I had continued for a year and a half to consider myself married even though I wasn’t anymore, because I saw my deceased husband as my present mate. That moment felt like I had thrown cold water in my own face. An important side result of this was my decision, really, to sell my home and find my ideal space. (I have been toying with this for 6 months at least. You’re right. “Maybe” is a”no!”) I am actively looking for a smaller house with some, if not all, of the features I visualized. I realized that I don’t have to settle for something that doesn’t suit me. I thank you for that. I feel like I’ve unlocked the shackles I place on my own wrists.

All of the people who facilitated our classes helped me find another piece of my personal puzzle. I also had a most helpful dialog with Beverly. As you may know, I’ve signed up to come back next year for one of the Happiness Option Weekends and then for Exceptional Woman. I look forward to it. I will come back because I never, ever want to forget what you have taught me. The Universe is benevolent. Thank you so much for reminding me of that.


Barbara J. Hauck

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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