Group FAQ

What is Decoding your Complex Child?

Decoding your Complex Child is a weekly, therapist-led class/discussion group for parents raising gifted, 2e, intense or anxious children. We meet in six-week sessions in San Jose on Sunday nights. The next group will be forming in Spring of 2012.

Why a group?

There is an old joke about children not coming with a manual — and with some children, even if you had a manual you would still be mystified. For a parent with an outside-the-box child, who may or may not have been labeled as “gifted” or “twice-exeptional”, figuring out how to proceed, how to get the best results and how to survive the process can be challenging. Getting support from peers and an expert facilitator provides new ideas, stress relief and connection with others who understand. It’s also a cost-effective way to access professional support.

What happens in a discussion group?

Don’t worry – no past life regression or pounding furniture with tennis rackets or primal screaming. This group is about discussing concerns, exchanging ideas, and getting support. Big feelings may come up from time to time, but anything that cannot be handled in group will be appropriately referred to private therapy, either with me or with another professional.

What does the group cover?

Among other things, the group will discuss understanding what makes your child tick; creating a home life that is satisfying for the whole family; increasing the number of tools in your “parenting toolbox”; accessing the vast array of community resources; educational options and how to choose among them; managing the stress of raising challenging children; and maintaining a connection to significant others. Group topics are also suggested by participants, and can include guest speakers and discussions of significant or particularly relevant books or other educational material.

What size is the group?

The group is limited to no more that 6 or 7 individuals. Keeping groups small enables everyone to participate better, and ensures that the facilitator can connect well with each participant.

What is the time commitment?

The group meets in six-meeting sessions, either weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the group. Participants are encouraged to continue to come for more than one session. Each meeting lasts 1 1/2 hours. The schedule is made available ahead of time.

I want to join the group but I can’t make that long of a commitment…

It can be very difficult for stressed-out, overloaded parents to carve out an hour and a half every week to participate in a group. However, just the action of setting that time aside is the first step in lowering your stress level. Steven Covey, of 7 Habits fame, talks about lumberjacks working harder and harder to saw the tree with a saw that gets ever duller as time goes on. When reminded to stop and sharpen the saw, in order to make the work easier, the overwhelmed lumberjacks pant and say “No, we can’t stop! We’re too busy sawing!” Making changes can feel very uncomfortable, but making time to “sharpen your saw” is critical to developing the inner resources to handle the demands you face with your very intense children. You work hard to be a parent to your children, and you deserve an island of calm in the turbulent sea of your everyday experience.

What are the particulars (time, place, cost, etc.)

The group meets at 1190 S. Bascom Avenue, Suite 139, in San Jose (Near Hamilton Avenue), on Sundays, either 5-6:30 or 7-8:30 pm.

All the groups cost $180 for a six-meeting session. There is a $20 discount for paying in full before the session begins. There are no refunds for missed meetings.

The next Decoding your Complex Child group will be forming in the spring of 2012.

I can’t be there for one of the meetings in the session. Can I only pay for five meetings?

Paying ahead for a six-meeting session helps ensure the group is robust and well-attended. When you enroll in the group, you are reserving a spot just for you. Even when you don’t attend, the group happens and the costs for running the group are incurred just the same. The cost of the group is still a fraction of what it would cost to get professional support individually, even if you miss several meetings. If you are concerned that you won’t be able to attend enough meetings to make it worth your while, you can always take a break and enroll in the next session.

How do I register for Decoding your Complex Child?

You begin the registration process by contacting me (Mika) at 408-375-9635, or I will arrange for an initial interview by phone. If you and I determine that the group is right for you, a paperwork packet will be sent to you. You can bring the paperwork to your first group, or mail or fax it back.

Can I drop in to the group to see if I will like it? Can I bring my friend/spouse/mother?

Everyone in the group must pre-register, in order to ensure that each participant is getting what they need. An initial interview also ensures that all members understand group expectations and agreements, and that any special issues can be addressed appropriately. The group is a confidential, safe space for group members to share their thoughts and feelings. In order to safeguard that sense of safety, visiting the group is not permitted. If you have any questions about visiting the group, please contact me at

What parenting or educational philosophy is supported in this group?

The group is open to parents and caregivers from all walks of life, no matter their perspective on childrearing or education. There are all kinds of great ways to raise kids, and the group explores many of them. Discovering the most effective and appropriate way of raising your child is the focus – not following a blueprint established by an “expert” who does not know you, your child or your family. We strive to acknowledge that, just as each family is different, each family will find that different solutions are appropriate for them, and we honor that difference throughout group experiences.

What are the facilitator’s qualifications?

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years in the field of mental health. My specialty is helping gifted and twice exceptional adults, children, and families to thrive. I have extensive experience leading groups and teaching classes on a variety of parenting-related topics, including parenting skills, pre-and-post-partum adjustments, using sign language with babies, natural childbirth preparation, couples issues and more. I have co-authored several articles relating to giftedness and parenting, and I am raising my own gifted and 2e child.

I have an existing group of parents/teachers/professionals I am part of. Will you come and do a presentation for us?

I’d love to work with any group that is interested in understanding more about the special needs of the gifted. Please contact me with your information, and we can work to put something together specifically for your group.