Leadership & Empowerment

Effective leaders influence and direct the performance of their staff or group toward the achievement of goals. Leaders inspire, support, instruct and guide their teams through challenges and uncertainty while remaining calm, strong and focused. At the Option Institute we teach leadership mastery — the ability to lead not only with technical prowess, but also with a deep sense of calm, empowerment, fearlessness and strength.

Leadership Training: The Demand for Leadership Skills

Clearly, there is no shortage of leadership training, both within the U.S. and globally. For example, a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the SHRM Global Forum, released in June of 2002, found that 57% of respondents stated that their organizations utilized external leadership development training programs provided by universities, executive education or professional organizations. Approximately half (51%) employ an internal leadership development training program in-house. Why, then, does leadership seem to be a sticking point for so many organizations and individuals? Why do so many of us, despite having a plethora of opportunities to learn leadership skills, seem to struggle with certain aspects of leading groups or teams?

Learning Leadership: How the Option Institute Can Help

We believe that the answers to these questions lie in how we are taught to lead. So often, when we are taught leadership skills, we are simply taught what to do. Thus, we can take 50 leadership courses, and we might still find ourselves struggling with issues such as:

Feeling tight or uncomfortable when leading groups
Floundering when members of a group appear to be “rebelling” against our leadership
Developing true group member accountability, rather than talk of accountability
Creating sincere connections between group members which reach beyond the class
Guiding or managing groups with unwavering strength and focus
Bonding with various groups without needing to be liked by the group members
Having a sense of passion that is visible to the group
Feeling comfortable and relaxed enough to use humor as a teaching tool

The Mindset of an Effective Leader

What does the Option Institute do differently in our leadership programs? We don’t simply teach you what to do. We teach you how to think. (And then we teach you what to do.) What does that mean? Every act of leadership we take is fueled by our beliefs. Our perspective about ourselves and those we are leading dictates how we lead. In other words, what we think determines what we do as leaders.

Therefore, in order to enable our participants to become effective leaders, we teach beliefs and ways of thinking that fuel effective leadership behaviors. Moreover, we can help you to uncover and discard any perspectives you may have which limit your effectiveness as a leader. This piece is more important than you may suspect.

Many of those we work with express enormous surprise when they uncover the myriad beliefs and self-judgments they hold which interfere with their ability to lead. Our teachers have many years of experience utilizing our unique form of leadership with audiences from around the world. We can teach you, step by step, each of the important components of effective leadership – whether you lead small teams or large groups. We can give you a thorough grounding – with opportunities for practical application – in the attitudinal and technical skills necessary to lead powerfully while still being true to your own personality and style.

Managers, CEOs, seminar facilitators, teachers, coaches and personal development program leaders have all come to our programs to improve and enhance their leadership style and skill. This is your chance to achieve leadership mastery – to lead not only with technical prowess, but also with a deep sense of comfort and strength.

See Our E-Learning Training Courses.
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Personal Stories

I first began attending Option Institute programs three years ago, and they have had a profound impact on my life. The greatest change is that I now make decisions from a place of comfort and inner ease. The programs prepared me to live my life intentionally with a new clarity of purpose. I had a great chance to practice what I learned when I went through a divorce. My intention was to have the most positive relationship that could be attained with my ex-wife. I felt that the lifetime commitment I had made to love and honor her did not change because we were no longer married. Throughout the process we have been able to talk warmly to each other, and we are still very good friends. As a result, my children never felt insecure. They understood that I was going to continue to be a presence in their lives, and remarkably, the experience became an opportunity for all of us to grow.

My professional life has also benefited. As an emergency room physician and regional EMS director, I am in a leadership position. Whenever I can, I share some of the techniques I was given at the Institute with my colleagues. For example, I have found that letting go of judgments and attempting to be really authentic with the staff and patients has had a wonderful effect on what is often a challenging work environment. Also, I am more compassionate with my patients, especially those who are considered ‘difficult,’ and we get a lot of them in the emergency room! Because of the programs I’ve attended, I know I can choose to be calm and respectful no matter what is happening around me. So really, The Option Institute has helped me not only to be a better doctor, it’s showed me how to be a more loving human being.

Geoff M., M.D.

Emergency Room Physician/Regional EMS Director, Iowa

No wonder the teaching at The Option Institute is the best I’ve ever seen. Group Leadership Training was so clear about how to teach with love and acceptance.

Every point was broken down into manageable specifics. But probably even more importantly, we focused on attitudes and beliefs that serve to help us be comfortable and confident no matter what happens with any group. I’ve shifted from fear and believing that leading groups is hard, to ‘I’m great-I have a lot to learn and I’m great! I can do this.

Lauren A.

Public Relations Manager, Massachusetts

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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