"We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them."
Lives in the Balance is the non-profit organization founded by child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene, originator of the empirically supported Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach and New York Times bestselling author of the influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost at Found, and the forthcoming book Raising Human Beings.
As articulated by the CPS model, we seek to infuse the values of collaboration, mutual respect, hearing one another's concerns, and solving problems in a mutually satisfactory manner into parenting and education. While the empirically-supported CPS model has improved outcomes for behaviorally challenging kids in many different settings -- families, schools, therapeutic facilities, and prisons -- it is equally applicable to not-so-challenging kids...and adults. Treating kids and each other in ways that are punitive, adversarial, and unilateral is ineffective and counterproductive. The skills that define our humanity -- empathy, appreciating how one's behavior is affecting others, resolving disagreements in ways that do not involve conflict, taking another's perspective, and honesty -- must be taught, modeled, and practiced. The CPS model represents an effective technology for doing so. Our efforts are organized around the following initiatives:
Open Access: Through this website, we ensure that Dr. Greene's vision -- that parents, educators, mental health clinicians, and staff in restrictive therapeutic facilities have easy access to vast resources on the CPS model at no charge -- is realized.
Lead the Change: Our Kids Advocacy Action Network (KAAN) takes action whenever we learn of schools and facilities that are treating kids -- behaviorally challenging or not -- in ways that are punitive, adversarial, and counterproductive. Through Action Alerts, our thousands of advocates reach out and urge a shift in thinking and point people to resources to empower change.
Share A New View: Dr. Greene's mantra -- Kids do well if they can -- propels caregivers toward interventions that are non-punitive, non-adversarial, skill-building, communication-enhancing, proactive, and collaborative...and away from traditional disciplinary practices such as time-outs, sticker charts, detentions, suspensions, and paddlings. Getting the word out, through our Public Awareness Campaign, is imperative!
Fix The System: At-risk kids and their families often have difficulty accessing the help they need. Systems of care often struggle to coordinate efforts and communicate, and kids and families can get lost in the process. But those things can be fixed, and Lives in the Balance has developed an ambitious, practical, realistic plan to make it happen!
Lives in the Balance programs are funded through contributions from Dr. Greene and other generous philanthropic individuals and organizations. Lives in the Balance is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible. If you're interested in supporting our mission, please contact us by phone or by using the contact form on this website.
Programs and Development (Gale Kurtz): 207-210-6589
Conferences and Consulting (Liz Rudman): 207-518-9135
Our offices are located at 85 Exchange Street, Suite 201, Portland, Maine, 04101
MEET OUR STAFF
|Ross Greene, Ph.D., Founding Director, served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years, and is now adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech and adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia.|
|Gale Kurtz, Executive Director, previously worked as Director of Development at the Portland (Maine) Stage Company and Hospice of Southern Maine, and Director of Operations at The Traditional School of Sacred Arts in Tok, Alaska.|
Kim Hopkins-Betts, LICSW, Director of Outreach and Communications, has previously managed the clinical departments of two organizations serving youth and families in residential facilities.
|Liz Rudman, Director of Conference Planning and Adminstration, previously worked as an assistant director of an adoption agency, a career counselor, a rehabilitation counselor, and an advertising executive in New York City.|
|Lianna Reagan, M.P.A., Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, is a graduate of the Public Administration program at New York University and previously worked as a research associate at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School.|
|Jenny Winkler, MPH, Director of Research and Program Evaluation, earned her degree at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Seattle, and has vast experience as a community mediator and mediation trainer.|
|Lindsey Pinkham, M.A., is a school psychologist in Reading, Massachusetts, and a graduate of the school psychology program in the Department of Education at Tufts University. She volunteers her time assisting with the Good and Bad News section of the Lives in the Balance website.|
|Jill Bradbury oversees communications for the Lives in the Balance radio programs and assists with our fund-raising and friend-raising efforts.|
|Ann Landsberg and Tim Baehr volunteer their time to handle communications and order fulfillment for the Lives in the Balance Care Package program.|
THE CPS MODEL
Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) is the model of care Dr. Greene originated and describes in his various books. The model is based on the premise that challenging behavior occurs when the demands and expectations being placed on a kid exceed the kid’s capacity to respond adaptively…and that some kids are lacking the skills to handle certain demands and expectations. So the emphasis of the model isn’t on kids' challenging behavior, which is – whether it’s whining, pouting, sulking, withdrawing, crying, screaming, swearing, hitting, spitting, biting, or worse – just the manner in which they are expressing the fact that there are expectations they’re having difficulty meeting. Nor does the model focus on psychiatric diagnoses, which are simply categories of challenging behaviors. Rather, the model focuses on identifying the skills the kid is lacking and the expectations he or she is having difficulty meeting (in the CPS model, those unmet expectations are referred to as unsolved problems). Then the goal is to help kids and caregivers solve those problems rather than trying to modify kids' behavior through application of rewards and punishments.
In the CPS model, the problem solving is of the collaborative and proactive variety. This is in contrast to many of the interventions that are commonly applied to kids, which are of the unilateral and emergent variety. The goal is to foster a collaborative partnership between adults and kids and to engage kids in solving the problems that affect their lives. As such, the CPS model is non-punitive and non-adversarial, decreases the likelihood of conflict, enhances relationships, improves communication, and helps kids and adults learn and display the skills on the more positive side of human nature: empathy, appreciating how one’s behavior is affecting others, resolving disagreements in ways that do not involve conflict, taking another’s perspective, and honesty.
Finally, if you're wondering why a canoe -- with an adult and child paddling together -- is the symbol of Lives in the Balance, it's because it symbolizes adult-child collaboration. The CPS model has its roots in the treatment of kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges...in other words, kids who are in very treacherous waters already. When it comes to helping these kids move in the right direction, many adults have a tendency to take control of the canoe and paddle alone. The problem, of course, is that challenging kids aren’t the type to sit idly by while the adult takes charge. They often respond to "control" strategies in ways that increase the likelihood that the canoe will tip. By contrast, CPS is a process by which adults and kids resolve problems together. When they approach problems collaboratively and work together toward solutions that are mutually satisfactory, things head in a positive direction. It's very hard work, but it’s a lot better than the alternative.