Are your relationships with your friends, colleagues and loved ones everything you want them to be? Are differences of opinion, varying upbringings and long established habits getting in the way of a great relationship? Whether you’re looking to improve communication with a spouse, have better interactions with a colleague or beloved friend, or find a little guidance in how to deal with your children, the Option Institute has a relationship course designed just for you.

Relationship Challenges We Face

While many of us voice our strong desire to be involved in a love relationship, we often complain about them once we get them. For some, we experience a series of difficult relationships. For others, we live in a marriage or life partnership that feels like hard work. And there are some of us who are involved in long-term love relationships that we are satisfied with but wish to take to an even deeper, closer, more caring and honest level. In many cases, it seems that people are confused and unsure about relationships, and this leads to some predictable outcomes. Consider the following:

  • The average life span of a live-in relationship is 4.5 years (, 2017)
  • 39% of wives and 68% of husbands who admitted to being unfaithful reported that their spouses did not know of the affair (, 2018)
  • 45% of all first marriages, 60% of second marriages, and 73% of subsequent marriages will end up in divorce (, 2018)
  • Only 10% of people who leave marriages end up marrying the person with whom they had an affair

How the Option Institute Can Help with Relationships

Relationship issues are often described as entities in and of themselves, to be navigated by those involved. We don’t believe there is any such thing as a relationship issue.

Our first relationship advice principle is: What others call relationship issues are simply two individuals, each having his/her own issues and thus being unhappy, judgmental or unloving with his/her partner. So, instead of helping you fix an amorphous “relationship issue,” we can help you to look at your own fears, hurts, and concerns – and help your partner look at his/hers.

A controversial idea: your partner doesn’t make you unhappy (no matter what he/she does).

Sound hard to swallow? We don’t blame you. We have been schooled repeatedly to believe that our happiness lies in the hands of others, particularly those of our lover. Much of the relationship advice we receive is predicated on this idea. This has set us up to experience love relationships marked by blame, distress and attempts at manipulation.

A New Perspective

However, it is possible to approach relationships from a new perspective. In fact, if your partner can’t make you unhappy, it follows that you can’t make him/her unhappy. And that also means that you can’t make each other happy. This is good news! This means that you have the power to decide how you feel regardless of what your partner does, and it also means that you are not to blame if your partner gets upset with you.

Some might see this as a license to be “harsh” or “callous.” We have seen the exact opposite. When individuals in a couple begin to take ownership for their own feelings and their own experiences, the door swings open for limitless expressions of love and affection without conditions, without blaming and without attempts at manipulation.

We can show you how to make such a love relationship a reality for you and your partner.

Taking Ownership

Therefore, our second relationship advice principle is: Take ownership for your emotional experience, and allow your partner the opportunity to take ownership for his/hers. Are you still waiting to get all that you really want from your love relationship? Let us help you get the type of relationship you’ve always dreamed of. One of our strongest areas is facilitating total authenticity in communication, which we see as the absolute key to a deep and satisfying relationship.

In fact, the website ran a survey on their website (124 respondents, 85% of whom were women) and found that when respondents were asked to rank the importance of “honesty and complete trust” in a relationship on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most important, 87% answered with the number 5.

And yet, many of us have difficulty making this happen in our own relationships. On the same survey, when respondents were asked to: “Tell me how you feel about the communication process in your current (or most recent) relationship?”

  • 30% responded, “It’s perfect. It’s very relaxed and open. My partner and I can talk about anything.”
  • However, even more people (37%) responded, “It’s strained, and I don’t really know how that happened. It doesn’t seem to take much before we find ourselves fighting, sometimes over really simple things.”
  • And 24% responded, “It’s impossible. It seems we never talk about anything but the necessities, and when we actually try to have a real conversation, we end up arguing or on completely different pages.”

This brings the total number who characterized their communication as “strained” or “impossible” to 61% – a clear majority. Moreover, when asked what they would like to change about the communication in their relationship, by far the most – 62% – said “openness.” (“Less judgmental” came in third.)

We can help you with this issue, and it doesn’t have to be painful.

Quite the contrary: It can be done playfully and with caring. For instance, our “Principles of Happy Negotiation,” (offered in the Couples Course), can provide you and your partner with an easy, meaningful and fun method of negotiating for what each of you wants from the other in the relationship.

Not surprisingly, our third relationship advice principle is: Prioritize authentic communication first and foremost.

These are the most basic tools to begin with. With other tools into which we delve in detail in our programs, you can truly create, with your lover, the relationship you’ve always wanted but might have been afraid to hope for.

See Our E-Learning Training Courses.
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Make All Relationships EasierE-LEARNING COURSES

Personal Stories: Building Positive Relationships

Couples Course gave me all I expected and more. I learned to peel away layers of amassed ‘stuff’ and, more importantly, learned the methods to continue doing so for the rest of my life. We were able to take risks because of the warm, loving and safe environment, and those risks brought us greater and more sustained intimacy than ever before. I am truly excited about the prospect of spending the rest of my life with my wife exploring and becoming more intimate every day. Thank you!

Bob Alcorn

Mediator/Investor, New Jersey

It might seem trite to say that Couples Course saved our marriage, but here I am making that exact statement. In one brief week, we learned how to use powerful attitudinal shifts and practical techniques that have now become part of our marriage. It is now stronger, more energetic and more peaceful than we could ever have imagined.

Andy T.

Surgeon, Tennessee

I came to Couples Course in a good relationship. Through the exercises, we made it a better relationship. We take away tools to make it a great relationship. The session on happy negotiation alone was worth the price of the program. I am grateful to have been able to participate in a program so well thought out by people who know and can teach relationship skills, which anyone can adopt to their advantage.

Robert V.

Retired, 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