Anxiety & Panic Attacks


From a subtle feeling that is just below the surface to outright panic, overcoming anxiety is a challenge that many of us face. Below you will find out how The Option Institute can help you to create a life that is anxiety free.

Who Suffers with Anxiety and Panic Attacks?

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. In fact, anxiety related disorders are the most common emotional illness in America, surpassing even depression in numbers. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 18.1% of Americans are currently suffering from an anxiety disorder. With anxiety disorders, there is a gender gap as well. Women suffer from anxiety attacks almost twice as much as men.

However, you are not doomed to an anxiety-ridden life. We can help you. Most of us are encouraged to see an anxiety attack as something that happens to us. In many cases, medication is recommended. (And people have reported that medication has provided relief.) Unfortunately, these factors often leave many of us feeling like victims, living in fear of the next anxiety attack. We can offer you what could be a life-changing alternative. If you are looking for an attitudinal, rather than a medication-based, approach, read on.

How the Option Institute Can Help

We have seen time and again that being able to overcome anxiety and panic is not actually the result of circumstances, or even necessarily of biology. Each moment of anxiety is fueled by a particular set of beliefs that we engage. When we hold certain perspectives, and, in essence, send ourselves particular messages (“I can’t do this,” “Something bad will happen to me,” “Everything is out of control,” “I’m trapped”), we precipitate panic attacks or generalized anxiety.

The important thing is: we send ourselves these messages for a reason (as a way to take care of ourselves).

We can offer you a way toward overcoming anxiety. Instead of trying to help you suppress your symptoms, we address the cause of your symptoms. We can help you uncover the messages you send yourself, and examine the anxiety-causing beliefs that you hold. Then, with the tools we will provide for you, you can plot a new course, change the way you think, and, potentially, give yourself the opportunity to overcome anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and/or panic attacks.

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Personal Stories

I came to the Option Institute with a past history of abuse, abandonment, and a great deal of past judgments. I came fully armed with my usual self-protective mechanisms that I had finely tuned over 52 years. Without anxiety, fear, trepidation, or regret, I left them outside the door at the beginning of the second class. That was the first time in my life that I ever knew I could choose differently. I chose happiness and it only took me 2 ½ hours after 52 years of pain. Thank you!

Laureeann Porter

Writer, Florida

Seven years ago, in the midst of leading an extremely active life – a life that included traveling, rigorous dance training, and a full-time commitment to my writing – I developed what the doctors and the media called ‘panic attacks’. The symptoms of these attacks were considered classic, but to me they never seemed classic at all; all of it seemed unique and freakish – not being able to swallow at times, the frequent dizzy spells, a heart that raced so fast I couldn’t breathe. Before I went to The Option Institute, I believed what the experts had told me – that this was a condition I would probably always have and that tranquilizers would be the best treatment. Based on this belief, I stopped traveling and dancing for fear that too much activity would increase my heart rate, and that this would feel like – or bring on – a panic attack.  READ MORE

A psychologist had once told me that it would take time – even years – before the cause of the attacks could be uncovered and released. But, after just one session at The Institute – a session that, in fact, did not have a psychological approach, or more focus on much of my history – I felt more of a ‘release’ than I had felt in years. Through a series of questions that gave me an opportunity to change my beliefs about my fears, and this ‘condition’ – I started to see changes in my physiology. My panic attacks were coming on less and less and, after continuing with dialogue sessions, I was able to stop using medication. The finale, for me, came after I participated in a one-week program at the Institute called ReNEW YOU. That week was filled with exercises, lectures, and dialogues – all of which focused on love, acceptance, and the pursuit of happiness. Since that time, I have not had one panic attack. I am traveling again, taking exercise classes, and am able to write with more focus and ease, all because the Institute has helped me to put my faith in love and find the peace that comes from faith. These are God’s principles, and whether or not you believe in God, these principles are at the heart of freedom. My gratitude to Barry and Samahria Kaufman and The Option Institute Staff is enormous.
Lorraine W.

Freelance Writer, California

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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