In 2008, Dr. John S. Lyons became the first Endowed Chair of Child and Youth Mental Health at the Psychology Department of Ottawa University and Eastern Ontario Children’s Hospital. Previously, he was a Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine in the Feinberg Department of Medicine at Northwestern University and the founding director of its Mental Health Services and Policy Program.  He has published approximately 200 peer-reviewed articles and six books, including Redressing the Emperor: Improving Our Children’s Public Mental Health Service System and, more recently, Communimetrics:  A Communication Theory of Measurement for Human Service Enterprises.  He has developed and implemented result management tools, such as Children and Adolescent Needs and Strengths, in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.  He actively works on the relationship between behavioral health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and education.

Currently, John Lyons is a Senior Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall. He is the developer of an outcomes management approach for human services called Transformational Collaborative Outcomes Management (TCOM). Within the TCOM framework, the most commonly used tool is the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS), which supports decision making in child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, schools and early intervention service provision, including level of care and planning and wellbeing and functional status outcomes, to facilitate quality improvement initiatives. Versions of the CANS are currently used in every state with statewide applications in 36 states. There are implementations on every continent except Antarctica.

Dr. Lyons has created parallel outcomes management approaches for adults (Adult Needs and Strengths Assessment, ANSA), families (Family Advocacy and Support Tool, FAST) and entrepreneurs (Readiness for Successful Entrepreneurship, RISE). These approaches are used to help serve more than 1.5 million people each year. All of these approaches are based on a new theory of measurement, Communimetrics, developed by Dr. Lyons. This theory posits that in human serving enterprises, measurement’s primary purpose is communication which must be considered much more broadly than communication among scientists. As such, Communimetrics is based on optimizing the communication value of the measurement approach.

At Chapin Hall, Dr. Lyons continues to guide policymakers and practitioners using TCOM and the CANS to more effectively tailor supportive services to the needs of youth and children. Dr. Lyons’ work will also be focused on expanding a suite of implementation supports to the CANS and TCOM framework. Emerging supports include training and certification processes; working alongside practitioners to determine decision points where collaborative decision-making tools can be integrated into clinical practice; creating automated and integrated reports that provide actionable data on service quality, developing decision support algorithms that optimize effectiveness, developing strategies to assess the efficiency and effectiveness for implementers as they work to overcome real-world obstacles and to bridge the training-to-practice gap; and ongoing coaching support.

Prior to coming to Chapin Hall, Dr. Lyons served as the first Endowed Chair of Child and Youth Mental Health on the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Ottawa and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Psychiatry & Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the founding Director of the Mental Health Services and Policy Program. He has published well over two hundred peer-reviewed articles, has written six books, including Redressing the Emperor: Improving Our Children’s Public Mental Health Service System and his latest Communimetrics: A Communication Theory of Measurement for Human Service Enterprises.

Dr. Lyons holds a B.A. in Psychology from Butler University, an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Methods and Measurement from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Areas of Expertise

  • Behavioral healthcare
  • Public health and quality of care training and monitoring
  • High risk, high need youth
  • Decision support and measurement in human service
  • System design and implementation science