Option Process Dialogue

I’ve been a qualified Option Process Mentor/Counsellor for seven years. My training took place at The Option Institute www.option.org where I studied my own beliefs and thinking process, to help me change the self-limiting beliefs that were leading to my unhappiness and behaviours like my eating disorder.

What is the Option Process Dialogue?

One of the most useful, profound methods I’ve ever encountered, the Dialogue is a process of asking questions that are designed to help us understand what we think and believe. The way we think determines how we feel and how we act. It is not specific events or situations that result in how we respond, our emotions and behaviours. It is not what happens in our lives that causes us to feel bad, even though I totally understand it can often seem that way! No, it is what we believe about what happens.

What do my beliefs have to do with my feelings and behaviours?

In any situation, we can have a range of beliefs that will determine whether we are happy or unhappy. Here’s an example: let’s say a friend never replies to our text messages quickly, or even at all. What if we believe that this means that our friend doesn’t care and not sending a reply is rude or unkind? Then what? We’re probably going to be unhappy. However, if we hold the belief that our friend does care about us, and is just busy at school or looking after their family, then we’re likely to feel more calm and comfortable with not getting a reply.

We can see that several people might be in the exact same situation of not receiving a reply to their message. However, depending on what they believe about this, whether they think it has meaning or not, they could have a variety of different feelings. Put another way, the beliefs that we have such as the lack of response being a good thing, a bad thing, or simply a neutral event, lead to different feelings.It is not the facts of what happens in life that causes our feelings and behaviours, it is what we believe.

What happens in an Option Process Dialogue?

In a Dialogue session, I will ask you questions that are simply based on what you talk about, follow what you say and what’s on your mind right in the moment. It is a confidential time for you to talk about absolutely anything. The questions are designed to help you understand what you think and believe, and then give you an opportunity to explore why you believe what you believe. That is the powerful moment of change, when you have an opportunity to question a belief and see if that perspective actually makes sense and works for you.

It’s important to know that you never have to change a belief. You’re free to keep or change your beliefs as you wish. Change is always your choice, when you are ready, when you see the possibility for change and you want to take that step.

What makes a Dialogue so different to other types of therapy?

I do not give advice and it’s not about problem solving. There’s no expectation or agenda for you to change. You talk, I listen. You talk, I don’t judge and simply want the best for you. You talk, I ask questions that follow what you say, to help you see clearly what you believe and how your thoughts are shaping your experience.

The questions are also asked in a very specific, unique attitude of acceptance and presence. As an Option Process Mentor-Counsellor, I completed a rigorous training process that involves learning to be totally present with you, heightened listening to everything that you say and not focusing on any thoughts about anything else. A Mentor-Counsellor also priorities and values total acceptance of you and anything you say. They also deeply care and want the best for you.

What was your experience of exploring in Dialogues?

When I first began doing Dialogues about my own self-limiting beliefs and issues, I had never experienced such deep acceptance and caring from another person, especially someone who didn’t know me! I had never had someone so clearly not judge me for my issues, someone who just listened and wanted to help me understand myself. Someone who believed I had my own answers.

I did dialogues about each of my issues and unraveled many networks of beliefs. All the ways I thought I wasn’t good enough, I was bad, or there was something wrong with me. I examined the reasons why I chose not to eat, my thoughts and feelings about life, the things I carried from the past, worries about my future, and essentially, for the recovery from my eating disorder, my relationship with food and my body.

These questions were so meaningful, useful and, quite simply, life-changing.