Women’s Issues

Women are often considered enigmatic in their ability to balance contradictions effortlessly throughout the course of the day – strength with gentleness, intelligence with creativity, and femininity with boldness. Many women accomplish incredible amounts in their daily lives, balancing work and other interests with family and home. Yet, instead of feeling happy, confident and empowered, many women feel weak, small and unhappy. At the Option Institute we help women feel good about who they are and what they offer to the world. We show them what it means to be exceptional.

What Issues are Unique to Women?

As women, we comprise 50.8% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Although we make up the majority of the people in the U.S. and, in fact, the world, we’ve had a history where we had to push to get some of the most basic rights held by men but denied to us.

And look what we’ve accomplished. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, 32.3% of men and 32.7% of women at age 25 had a bachelor’s degree. Now, among the youngest group of post-college adults, the gap between Men and Women attending college has been closed entirely. In fact the majority of college students are now female. Women have made other leaps as well. The U.S. Department of Labor (2017) reports 36% of all businesses are women owned with women leadership. The number of women-owned businesses has grown at nearly four times the rate of men-owned firms over the past 20 years. Women-owned businesses employ over 8.4 million workers and generate $264 billion in payroll each year!

And yet, many of us allow ourselves to feel small or weak. Others struggle to find a sense of personal power – and even outrageousness – without giving up our femininity, our nurturing and our uniqueness as women. There are powerful, successful female role models in the world who many of us look up to. How can we have what they have and still be who we are?

How the Option Institute Can Help with Women’s Issues

At the core, it is critical for us as women to examine our self-judgments and other self-limiting beliefs about our roles and our power. In terms of our own internal experience of our lives, nothing is more important than looking at the messages we send ourselves – our beliefs and perspectives about who we are and what our place is in the world.

We can help you look at your innermost emotions and uncover your most deeply-held beliefs – all in an environment that is both safe and fun.

In particular, our signature program for women, Exceptional Woman, can enable you, with a group of other women, to share with one another; and, if you choose, to change some key perspectives about yourself. You’ll have the opportunity to heal old wounds, take new risks and to come out more self-empowered – and self-accepting – than you might have ever felt in your entire life.

See Our E-Learning Training Courses.
Get practical strategies and support from the comfort of your own home!


Personal Stories — Experiences of Woman Participants

I am writing this to express my gratitude to everyone at The Option Institute. One year ago I attended a one-week program. I came with a failing marriage, fibrocystic breast disease and battling depression like I’d never experienced before. I felt like I was reaching for a life preserver in an ocean of high waves. I left feeling like I could walk on water.

Now, almost a year later, my life has definitely changed. My marriage is more honest and accepting than it has ever been. The lumps in my breast are smaller and, at times, totally gone. The scar from the surgery (I had to remove a lump six months before coming to The Institute) had healed outwardly, but was constantly sore and large under the skin. When I dressed the morning I left The Option Institute, it was the first time it didn’t hurt to raise my arm.

As for depression, I can’t think of any reason why I would choose to feel that way again. I experience life fully now; I don’t just live it.
I’ve even started my own business! But the greatest miracle for me is that I really like myself. This is a new experience and it feels too wonderful for words! Thank you for teaching me to be good to myself. Thank you for helping me see that there is nothing wrong with me. Thank you for showing me that happiness is a choice. The Option Institute helped me find a way of living that I’d dreamed of, but believed was impossible.

Debbie Watehall-Gates

Bookstore Proprietor, Texas

Although I am writing this during the Christmas season, it is not a Christmas card but a thank you note. I have just gone through the most difficult months of my life. In October I had a six hour surgery in which three cervical fusions were done, a process requiring a graft from the hip bone. What was intended to be a short hospital stay stretched into weeks. Those weeks included two allergic reactions and two major infections, necessitating dressing changes so painful that if I were to rate them on a scale of I to 10 they would be a 15. This process was done six times a day! The remarkable thing is that I got through it all happily. That is why I am thanking you. The ideas presented in Bears’ books, and that I was exposed to during programs at The Option Institute and which I continued using at home were what helped me make it.

The manner in which those ideas were presented was especially meaningful. Somehow the Institute staff members did it so that I felt I could take a tremendous risk and, at the very least, try.

Things aren’t over yet. I’m still in a brace and there is another surgery coming up. Even after that, the muscles may be permanently damaged. However I have a real sense of hope and freedom. I’ve realized that my happiness does not depend on the outcome of my medical treatment. I can choose what I want to be, how I wish to feel and what kind of life I wish to have.

Beth Q.

Teacher of Handicapped Children, Oklahoma

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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, 5 Days to Live, Defying a Terminal Cancer Prognosis , 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