Global WellBeing’s Director
Global Wellbeing Director David Alan Harris, MA, LPC, LCAT, BC-DMT, NCC*, is an award-winning mental health counselor and dance/movement therapist who specializes in fostering resilience, and promoting recovery among survivors of human rights abuse and war.
When working in West Africa in 2005 and 2006, David trained paraprofessional counselors from refugee camps and post-conflict settings in Sierra Leone and Liberia to apply dance/movement therapy theories and practice in their work with communities devastated by the 11-years’ war.
Poimboi Veeyah Koindu (PVK, Orphan Boys of Koindu, in the Kissi language), a dance therapy group that David launched with former boy combatants in Sierra Leone’s war-ravaged Kailahun District in 2006, has grown to prominence for its unusual success in animating individual healing and community reconciliation. Freedom to Create awarded the group its prestigious Youth Prize for 2009.
Click here to see David’s acceptance speech at a gala event at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Read David Alan Harris' Freedom To Create acceptance speech.
In 2008, the United States Embassy in Zimbabwe contracted David to conduct workshops in Harare for doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, youth workers, journalists and advocates, equipping these providers to enhance the effectiveness of their services to survivors of the violent political crackdown in the country.
In 2001 and 2002, David conceptualized, launched, and ran an innovative psychosocial support program for refugee minors from South Sudan resettled in the U.S. The Dinka Initiative to Empower and Restore, or DIER (the Dinka word for dance) accessed the healing power of traditional dancing and drumming, and encouraged the young participants, then facing unfamiliar challenges in the host culture, to hold to the ancestral strengths of their culture of origin. Click here for resources about DIER.
David has accepted invitations to speak about his therapeutic work at various U.S. and international gatherings, including the IX International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) Symposium in Berlin, in 2006, and four annual conferences of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), as well as at McGill’s Division of Transcultural Psychiatry in Montreal, Washington, DC’s Institute for Policy Studies, and London’s Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.
Journalists from such international companies as BBC World Service, the Australia Broadcast Corporation, and Sky TV have broadcast interviews of David. Click here for access to audio files. Articles in the U.S. publications Dance Magazine and the American Journal of Dance Therapy have described his work with children affected by war.
The U.S. Department of State contracted David to present a webchat on issues surrounding recovery from the psychological effects of torture. He has also served as an expert witness on torture and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for an asylum hearing in U.S. immigration court. In addition, he has lectured at a Colorado Bar Association continuing education workshop for asylum attorneys on the ethical challenges in representing traumatized torture survivors, and the related imperative for service providers with such a clientele to pay attention to self-care as well as care for those served.
David has published a number of pieces about the processes of promoting recovery among survivors of war and organized violence. Links to these resources are available here.
The ADTA honored one of David’s peer-reviewed articles about his dance therapy work with its 2007 Research Award, and recognized his efforts more broadly, bestowing on him its Leader of Tomorrow Award as well. Click here to read David’s brief comments upon accepting the honor from ADTA President, Dr. Robyn Flaum Cruz.
A 2002 graduate of the MCP Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapy program at Drexel University, David has taught graduate-level courses on trauma/recovery at Columbia College, Chicago, and Naropa University in Boulder. He has also presented his work at Concordia University, Montreal; the University of Maryland; the University of Pennsylvania; Empire State College, New York City; Goldsmiths College, London; Roehampton University, London; the London School of Contemporary Dance; and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
David has more than 15 years’ experience working for organizations—including for Doctors of the World, the American Friends Service Committee, the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, and Human Rights Watch—dedicated to sustainable solutions to the problems of refugees, asylum-seekers, and other survivors of human rights violations.
David also worked as a choreographer for over a dozen years in New York. Learn about David's his dance career.
David founded the nonprofit/nongovernmental organization Global WellBeing in response to requests from people and agencies in various post-crisis environments for innovative resources, training, and direct therapeutic support.
* MA: Master’s of Arts in Creative Arts in Therapy from Drexel University, Philadelphia PA, USA; MA: Master’s of Arts in Performance Studies from New York University, USA; BA in Fine Arts, Earlham College, Richmond, IN, USA; LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado, USA; LCAT: Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in New York State, USA; BC-DMT: Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist, from the American Dance Therapy Association; and NCC: National Certified Counselor, USA.