About Lives in the Balance

"The thought that life could be better
is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains."
Train in the Distance, Paul Simon

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 author of the influential books The Explosive Child and Lost at School.


In too many settings, behaviorally challenging kids are still poorly understood, and treated in ways that are punitive, adversarial, reactive, unilateral, ineffective, and counterproductive. This scenario places these kids at serious risk for a variety of adverse outcomes. Thanks to the sizeable body of research that has accumulated over the past 50 years, significant progress has been made in our understanding of the factors underlying challenging behavior, and points toward lagging skills (rather than lagging motivation) as the key factor. However, this research has been slow to influence assessment and treatment in many settings. Our mission is to build on that knowledge, the sizable body of research supporting the effectiveness of the CPS model, and our experiences in working with families, schools, inpatient units, residential and juvenile detention facilities, and government agencies, to change the lives of behaviorally challenging kids and their caregivers.  We've prioritized four key initiatives in pursuit of this mission:

Open Access: The CPS model has dramatically improved outcomes for behaviorally challenging kids in many different settings. 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 behaviorally challenging kids in ways that are punitive and 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! There are lives in the balance!

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 Betty Huff Elementary School in Surrey, British Columbia, and is taking the initiative to expand the influence of Collaborative & Proactive Solutions beyond her school and into the community. Susan is also a panelist on 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. 

Ross Greene Ross Greene, Ph.D., is founder and 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 Grants and a trainer at Lives in the Balance. She has 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 at Lives in the Balance, and also provides administrative oversight of our consultation services.  Prior to joining Lives in the Balance, Liz has been assistant director of an adoption agency, a career counselor, a rehabilitation counselor, and an advertising executive in New York City.
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.
Tim and Anne Tim Baehr and Ann Landsberg volunteer their time to handle all communications for the Lives in the Balance radio programs and also take care of order fulfillment for Care Packages.


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.  She received her doctorate in in psychology in 1984 from the University of Georgia. She completed postdoctoral work at Indiana University and was for three years a faculty member in the psychology department at Virginia Tech. She joined the UT faculty in 1989. For most of her career, her research program, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, examined a number of aspects of the functioning of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Dr. Carlson in recent years has changed the focus of her work to the field of Positive Psychology and well-being. Positive Psychology is a movement expressive of the outlook that the science of psychology can be utilized not only to reduce human suffering, but also to enhance our potential. She received the 2009 Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Fellowship, which recognizes teaching excellence in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, and the 2010 Eyes of Texas Award for excellence in service to the University.

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. She directs a broad research program that addresses a variety of scientific problems relevant to advancing the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. Dr. Frazier collaborates with a number of investigators both locally and nationally in order to tackle difficult research questions.  Dr. Frazier was previously associated with Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), where she was the Director of Child Psychopharmacology, Co-director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development and Director of the Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatric Research Program. She received her medical degree at Dartmouth Medical School and served her residency in adult psychiatry at New England Medical Center. She completed a clinical fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Bradley Hospital, a major teaching hospital for Brown University. She also completed a research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Matthew A. Jarrett, Ph.D.Matthew A. Jarrett, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama. He received his doctoral degree from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and completed a pre-doctoral internship at Children’s National Medical Center. His research and clinical interests are in the field of developmental psychopathology, particularly in the areas of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders. His current research explores aspects of neuropsychological functioning and co-occurring symptomatology in children with ADHD. Current projects include the development and evaluation of an intervention for children with ADHD and anxiety as well as a pilot project examining the efficacy of working memory training for children with ADHD and anxiety. 

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.  Dr. Jensen established the REACH Institute in May 2006, following service as Founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health at Columbia University. Before joining Columbia as its Ruane Professor of Child Psychiatry (2000-2007), he was Associate Director of Child and Adolescent Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). While at NIMH (1989-2000), Dr. Jensen was the lead NIMH investigator on the landmark study of Multimodal Treatment of ADHD (“The MTA Study”), as well as investigator on other national multi-site studies. A world-renowned child psychiatrist, Dr. Jensen is a passionate advocate for children with emotional and behavioral disorders and their families. His major work and research interests include identifying, disseminating, and implementing evidence-based mental health treatments.  

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 author of over 300 research publications, 60 book chapters, and 25 books. His books include Clinical Behavior Therapy with Children (Plenum Press), Developmental Issues in the Clinical Treatment of Children (Allyn and Bacon), Phobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Clinician’s Guide to Effective Psychosocial and Pharmacological Interventions (Oxford), and Handbook of Interventions that Work with Children and Adolescents (Wiley). He is the past Editor of the Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, past Associate Editor of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, current Editor of Behavior Therapy, and founding Co-Editor of Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. He also serves on the editorial boards of 16 other journals. He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences. The recipient of several NIH grants, his clinical and research interests range from the study of diverse forms of child psychopathology to the assessment, treatment, and prevention of these child disorders from a social learning/social cognitive theory perspective. 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.



Lives in the Balance programs are funded through contributions from Dr. Greene and other 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.

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.