Dr. Julia Byers, LMHC, ATR-BC, Professor Emerita, Lesley University has been working in over 25 countries providing humanitarian aid through expressive art/play therapies and mental health counseling. Julia has worked with many communities, individuals and families who experienced traumatic events, situational stress, and ongoing stress in response to natural disasters, military or violent related circumstances or unexpected or situational personal bereavement and loss. Having been trained in family systems theories, Julia utilizes an eclectic and existential approach to PTSD within a resilience strength-based framework.
Professor Byers received her doctorate from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the Department of Adult Education, Counseling Psychology and Community Development in 1996, having already been a tenured professor within the Faculty of Arts, at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada for 16 years. She earned her clinical Master’s degree from I.M.C. and U.C.L.A. Los Angeles, California, and her Bachelor’s degree at McGill University. She also went to Vanier College, St. Laurent, Quebec for an initial diploma in Arts and Social Sciences.
While at Concordia University, Julia established the first internationally approved Graduate Art Therapy program from the American Art Therapy Association. After being hired at Lesley University in 1996, in part to develop the first Expressive Therapy PhD program in the states, Dr. Byers was the Expressive Therapy Division Director for 12 years and the first PhD director for five years. She also co-established the Lesley Extension MA program in Expressive Therapy in Netanya, Israel overseeing a total of 500 graduate students. Professor Byers taught the PhD Interdisciplinary studies course for the school of Education and the Graduate Studies in Arts and Social Sciences for 17 years, emphasizing how many different disciplines can work together for research, supervision and leadership.
Having received a significant grant from the Ministry of Health and Welfare with the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada, Julia began travelling to the Palestinian territories to provide mental health services to communities follow the Intifada Uprising. Dr. Byers has now traveled to Israel and the West Bank 24 times to promote resilience training for healthcare and educational institutions with sponsorship from Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, UNWRA, and other NGO organizations. Her continued work in other countries included travelling to Lebanon in the Syrian camps, and Lira, Uganda following the devastation of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the Philippines following the typhoon and mudslide disasters. With Dr. Jody McBrien, University of Southern Florida, the psychosocial support provided resulted in a recent book publication entitled Cold Water: Women and Girls of Lira Uganda in which 100% of the sales proceeds is given to young women for school scholarships.
Julia continues her passion to work with underserved communities within the greater Boston area through her board membership with the Community Legal Services and Counseling Center for the past 10 years. C.L.S.A.C.C. provides support services for asylum seekers, refugees, and domestic needs for underserved populations. The collaborative efforts of all people who care for others is a lifelong art and education, which celebrates the best of what it means to be human. Hope is a powerful and resilient human expression.