History of San Diego Mentors

The story of the founder

"Within my senior year of undergraduate studies, I became a recreational attendant within a renowned children’s hospital in Connecticut. I provided fitness and recreational activity for children and adolescents afflicted with severe illness and traumatic injury. Observing and experiencing their struggles and limitations, significantly influenced my career aspirations, as I knew then and there I wanted to somehow help others. I wanted to do whatever I could to help someone’s day be a little bit better. Just wasn’t sure exactly how at that point.

James Giantis

James Giantis


That first year wasn’t easy, I learned a lot, I cried a lot, I gave all I could and eventually was recruited to a mental health worker position on the psychiatric ward for children and adolescents. As with all missions in my life, I wanted to learn all that I could, work diligently and master my role and responsibilities with the purpose of being a contributor to solutions.

As difficult as the previous position was, this new one was an entirely new challenge, one that provided a solid foundation for everything to follow. Many of the kids displayed extreme behaviors, lots of aggression and apathy. Initially, I was not as prepared or skilled as I would have liked to have been. This motivated me to do what was necessary to become confident and comfortable in my role. I truly wanted to help and was willing to do whatever it took to learn, practice and refine the skills necessary to guide them to more effective ways of thinking and behaving. Working full-time and even over-time, I added a daily average of 10 hours of reading and studying psychology, human behavior and spirituality, unbeknownst to me I had begun the process of developing the Effective Mindset Training System."

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Rest of the Story:

"I processed the learning’s of each day and implemented them practically with the kids. I became more and more effective and confident in my ability to not only connect to the kids but also to be a teacher and leader they could learn from and depend on. I enjoyed the challenge of being present, activated and prepared to provide the kids whatever they needed to learn to behave in more fulfilling and productive ways. Everything I said or did intended to help them to learn to better control their thoughts, emotions, desires and behaviors. If they needed limits or consequences in an attempt to teach them self-discipline, I sent those messages, if they needed feedback, I provided feedback, if they needed encouragement, then I sent them encouragement, humor needed, I had jokes. I had learned how to send messages in the hope they would receive and utilize them to fulfill need.

The balance of being strong and gentle, firm yet flexible, playful and serious, calm and assertive became a naturally way of life for me at work and everywhere I went. Calm-assertion was the key. This was the solution, to learn, practice, refine and master a calm-assertive mindset. I was doing it, but had not fully developed a system of understanding just yet. Over time, as a started to put the pieces together it became clearer everything we did involve the pursuit of needs, resources or supplies to survive, function and be comfortable and there were 4 main ways to approach the process of acquiring them.

In 1995, I made my decision to begin graduate work at the University of Connecticut, eventually transferring and graduating from San Diego State University and in 1998, began employment part time within a social service agency providing in-home and community services to youth, adolescents and families. Simultaneously, I provided mentoring to a family struggling with a great deal of adversity. For 5 hours per day for 5 days per week I mentored three boys and their significant improvements caught the attention of other professionals and Families In Training had launched.

As time progressed, mentoring became parent coaching and parent coaching became family coaching. Families now had the option to receive either or all of the platforms to help them with their struggles. Throughout, I kept asking “why” and then “why” again until I found the answers that actually made sense and truly provided solutions to problems. The more I understood and learned the more I shared. Whether training my team of coaches and mentors or working with youth, parents, families or organizational personnel it became more and more clear I was developing a system to simplify the process of understanding the factors influencing our patterns of thought, emotions, desire and behavior.

Over time, tens of thousands of hours were spent developing worksheets to workbooks and books to help youth, parents, families, individuals and professionals. They are not all completed and ready for full usage as of yet, but soon enough. In the meantime I am confident in my ability to help nearly anyone to develop and maintain a calm-assertive approach to their daily lives. My hope is that you will be able to benefit from this program and bless those around you as you share this information to make the world a more calm-assertive one."