About Lives in the Balance

"We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them."
Albert Einstein

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!

If you'd like to help us change the lives of behaviorally challenging kids and their caregivers, click here.


The Directors of Lives in the Balance were chosen because of their commitment to the CPS model and other non-punitive, non-adversarial interventions. In selecting the Directors, Lives in the Balance sought to ensure representation from the diverse contexts in which the CPS model has been implemented, including families, schools, inpatient psychiatry units, residential facilities, juvenile corrections facilities, and outpatient mental health settings:

Laura Baker Laura Baker, Ed.D.: Laura is Assistant Professor of Special Education at Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts. She is a former principal and director of special education, as well as the former head of school at Greenfield Center School, the first school to embrace and implement the CPS model.
Laura Fuller Laura Fuller, Ph.D.: Laura is a neuropsychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. She was instrumental in implementing the CPS model in her prior position at Shodair Children's Hospital, a residential and inpatient facility for children and adolescents in Helena, Montana.
Susan McCuaig

Susan McCuaig: Susan is Principal at T.E. Scott School in Surrey, British Columbia, and is working to expand the influence of the CPS model beyond her school and into the community. Susan is also a panelist on the Lives in the Balance monthly Radio Program, Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students.

Susan Portin Susy Portin: Susy is the parent of three great kids, two of whom had emotional and behavioral challenges (that’s how she learned about and become a devotee of the CPS model and Lives in the Balance).  She’s one of the co-hosts on the Parenting Your Challenging Child radio program, sponsored by Lives in the Balance.
Barry Stoodley Bartlett Stoodley: Barry is the former Associate Commissioner of Juvenile Services in the Department of Corrections in Maine, where he and his colleagues dramatically reduced rates of recidivism, use of solitary confinement, and staff and resident injuries through implementation of the CPS model and other non-punitive, non-adversarial approaches. He currently directs the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.

Ross Greene Ross Greene, Ph.D., is Founding Director of Lives in the Balance and the originator of the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions approach. He 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.
Kim Hopkins-Betts

Kim Hopkins-Betts, LICSW is the Director of Outreach and Communications at Lives in the Balance. She has previously managed the clinical departments of two organizations serving youth and families in residential facilities, both of which have implemented CPS.

Liz Rudman Liz Rudman is Director of Conference Planning and Adminstration at Lives in the Balance. She has 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 Lianna Reagan, M.P.A., is Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at Lives in the Balance. She 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.
Whitney Kimbar Lindsey Pinkham, M.A., is a graduate of the school psychology program in the Department of Education at Tufts University, and is currently a school psychologist in Reading, Massachusetts. She volunteers her time overseeing the Good and Bad News section of the Lives in the Balance website.
Jill Bradbury Jill Bradbury oversees communications for the Lives in the Balance radio programs and assists with our fund-raising and friend-raising efforts.
Tim and Anne Tim Baehr and Ann Landsberg volunteer their time to handle all communications and order fulfillment for the Lives in the Balance care package program.


The Lives in the Balance Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of a select group of nationally and internationally recognized researchers in mental health, and advises Lives in the Balance on its research initiatives and priorities: 

Caryn L. Carlson, Ph.D. Caryn L. Carlson, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Associate Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas.
Jean Frazier, M.D. Jean Frazier, M.D., is Vice Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
Matthew A. Jarrett, Ph.D. Matthew A. Jarrett, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama
Peter Jensen, M.D. Peter Jensen, M.D., is President & CEO of the REACH Institute and Professor of Psychiatry and Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry & Psychology at the Mayo Clinic. He was previously Associate Director of Child and Adolescent Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Thomas H. Ollendick, Ph.D., Thomas H. Ollendick, Ph.D., is University Distinguished Professor in Clinical Psychology and Director of the Child Study Center at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is the Principal Investigator on the largest study examining the effectiveness of Dr. Greene's approach to date, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health.



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 them solve those problems, rather than trying to modify their 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.


Lives in the Balance programs are funded through contributions from Dr. Greene and other generous philanthropic individuals and organizations. If you're interested in supporting our mission, please contact us. Lives in the Balance is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible.  

Our offices are located at 85 Exchange Street, Suite 201, Portland, Maine, 04101.

Finally, are you wondering why a canoe -- with an adult and child paddling together -- is the symbol of Lives in the Balance? 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.