"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 and Found, and Raising Human Beings.
Our vision is to foster collaboration and empathy, transform lives, and inspire change for all children (especially the most vulnerable), to heighten awareness of the detrimental and counterproductive effects of punitive interventions, and to address the systemic issues that impede our progress.
The mission of Lives in the Balance is to provide vital, accessible resources and programs to caregivers of behaviorally challenging kids; to bring the plight of these kids into the public consciousness; to address the systemic issues that cause many of these kids to slip through the cracks; and to promote parenting and disciplinary practices that foster the better side of human nature in all children. Our efforts are organized around the following initiatives:
Open Access: Through our Outreach initiatives -- which include this website, our radio programs and Facebook groups, and our annual Summit -- we ensure that parents, educators, mental health clinicians, and staff in restrictive therapeutic facilities have easy access to vast resources on the CPS model at little or no cost.
Lead the Change: Through our Kids Advocacy Action Network (KAAN), we heighten awareness of the obsolete, counterproductive ways in which many behaviorally challenging kids are still treated; take action whenever we learn of schools and facilities that are treating kids -- behaviorally challenging or not -- in ways that are punitive, adversarial, and counterproductive; and provide consultation and training on non-punitive, non-adversarial, collaborative, proactive alternatives.
Fix The System: Through our proof-of-concept project -- Invest in Maine's At-Risk Kids (i-MARK) -- we're showing how a public-private partnership can eliminate many of the systemic issues that make it hard for at-risk kids and their families to access and receive the help they need. Once we've shown what can be done in one state, we'll export the model to other states, provinces, and countries.
Lives in the Balance is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible. Our programs are funded by Dr. Greene and other philanthropic individuals and organizations. If you're interested in supporting our vision and mission, please contact us by phone or by using the contact form on this website.
Programs and Development (Gale Kurtz): 207-210-6589
Workshops and Training (Liz Rudman): 207-518-9135
Advocacy (Lianna Reagan): 202-750-8130
Our offices are located at 85 Exchange Street, Suite 201, Portland, Maine, 04101
WHO WE ARE
|Ross Greene, PhD, 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, Training, and Administration, 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, PhD, 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.|
|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 non-punitive, non-adversarial, trauma-informed 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.