James Lavelle, LICSW, is the Director of International Programs and Community Organizing for the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT). As Co-Founder of HPRT, he has spent the past 33 years working as a clinician, educator, researcher, and community organizer helping to pioneer the field of refugee mental health. With his HPRT colleagues and their in-country partners, James participated in innovative trainings of primary-care physicians and mental health professionals and paraprofessionals in Thailand, Cambodia, Croatia and Bosnia. Finally, he participated in a training consultation in Peru with HPRT’s collaborating center, the University of San Marcos Medical School. James has worked with his HPRT team in conducting major epidemiological research in these societies. He also co-founded the world famous Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic (IPC) in Boston in 1981 with Dr. Richard Mollica after starting his career in 1978 as Director of the Indochinese Refugee Mental Health Program sponsored by a group called Research for Social Change Inc. IPC has morphed since the year 2000 into a new and improved clinical service for individuals and families entitled “A Statewide Network of Local Care for Survivors of Torture,” based at Lynn Community Health Center (funded by the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement).
James is a member of the international faculty of the “Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certificate Program.” This program incorporates lecture-based training held in the cities of Porano and Orvieto, Italy followed by five months of web-based learning, aimed at developing a “Community of Practice” of faculty and participants. This unique training is the major vehicle for the dissemination of the Mental Health Action Plan and Book of Best Practices generated through HPRT’s policy initiative: Project 1 Billion.
James Lavelle, LICSW, has conducted hundreds of trainings and workshops and has co-authored scores of publications. With a little help from his HPRT friends, he has had the honor of offering clinical care to over 10,000 survivors of war, torture and violence. He remains pathologically optimistic due to the fact that he thoroughly enjoys working toward world peace with the “Best and the Brightest” over the past 35 years. He cautions however: “We’ve met a lot of zany people along the way.”