By R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Liberation Peer Counseling (LPC); he teaches LPC and currently resides in Calgary, AB, Canada. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and/or interest in classes of LPC upcoming ...
INTRODUCTION: BASICALLY, WHAT IS LPC?
The purpose of this piece is to describe, in Wikipedia summary fashion, the foundational knowledge about Liberation Peer Counseling (LPC) as a method of peer-to-peer practice to enable all people willing and capable to enter a support relation based on a "two-way attention session" focused on recovery, healing and eventual liberation from all forms of oppression. The model is non-clinical and non-professional-centric where everyone is involved in learning the skills to help each other--that is with learned tools and skills of how best to support the process of achieving our greatest human potential--for ourselves and others.
By oppression, LPC sees it in two forms: (a) most basic insecurities, distresses, traumas of life we personally experience in our own history, AND (b) it equally addresses the contexts in which we are born and live, thus it provides a simultaneous way of de-hypnotizing us from the larger historical, social, political and economic regimes of oppression (e.g., racism, classism, sexism, adultism, religionism, etc.).
The LPC method basically involves the learning of the theory and practice behind how humans are hurt and how they heal. The theory says we have mostly "forgot" how to recognize our "natural healers" (see below) and their "gift" in our self-system-regulation processes. Even though violence and injustice get all the attention, oppression is always about the more subtle "hurting" (trauma, or distress) and how that is passed on amongst peers, neighbors, societies and generation to generation, often without us even knowing what it is that is hurting us--but, when we are honest and look at and feel much of our experience, we feel "oppressed" in some ways; often, this merely shows itself as feeling "limited" or that "something is wrong with us." This model studies oppression-repression (i.e., external and internalized oppression).
LPC claims and shows that most all "hurting" originally comes from an external source plus an internal perception and way of experiencing pain (physical and/or emotional), distress, trauma, fear, violence. The basic solution to hurting is to give it the unconditional attention (e.g., in a one-to-one peer relationship of equal exchange of attention) that has been lacking from the time of the injury. Most people in a coping society (vs. a healing society) do not recognize or remember what it is like to have unconditional (i.e., healing) care and attention for a sustained period by another. Peer counselors in this model learn to exchange the "gift" of this special attention for the purpose of healing.
LPC offers theory and practices that are self-empowering and incorporate natural ways of being with people while embellishing 8 "natural healers" (e.g., laughing, yawning, crying, sweating, etc.) and does this without requiring one to be a counselor, psychologist, therapist. It is our human right and capacity innately to know how to help ourselves, others and society-as-a-whole to heal and transform our quality of life in a positive direction.
LPC teaches us as peers to listen to ourselves and others in away that focuses not on "content" of distress along but more on the "process" unfolding and that needs encouraging so one finds the "re-sourcing" of their innate healing capacities and the way that fear(s) move into fearlessness naturally, especially with encouragement from a peer who recognizes fearlessness as a part of the process of recovery from fear(s).
HISTORY OF LPC
Dr. Fisher (formerly, Robert M. Fisher), began teaching LPC in Calgary, AB, Canada as part of the 6 'Fear' Vaccines  offered at the non-profit In Search of Fearlessness Centre between 1990-99. Fisher estimates 500+ people (mostly in Calgary) had been exposed to LPC theory and/or practice in these years. An LPC practicing community reached some 35 practitioners by the late 1990s. Individuals with basic LPC training had access to nearly all these 35 practitioners so that when in distress or merely as a "tune-up" all of them could call each other to set up "sessions."
Fisher and his partner (Barbara Bickel) coined "Liberation Peer Counseling" (LPC) based on most of the foundations taught in Re-evaluation Counseling and International Co-Counseling . The basic method was developed as a grassroots model of self-help in the 1940s-50s. Among some other differences from the latter, Fisher and Bickel added their own approach, including adding a few extra "natural healers" to the traditional approaches mentioned .
Theory & Practice of LPC: How and Why it Works
A. There is little or no research that "proves" LPC and its prior models works but there is a good deal of experiential and historical evidence it is very effective in what it claims it offers. Those who are involved in LPC tell their own story of effectiveness, of what works and what doesn't and that is how the practice and theory evolve and improve with time. It is not "perfect" nor aiming to be so, but it is always improving with feedback from practice.
B. What does LPC offer? It says that if you learn the basic theory and skills of practice with the help of an LPC teacher , you will be, more or less, effective in (a) encouraging people to trust their 8 natural healers (sometimes called "refreshers") and to trust that other people can access these when needed, with support and on their own to improve their ability to heal and recover their zestful, intelligent and creative selves again, (b) encouraging people to disentangle the irrational (distress and fear-based) patterns that they have lives with (due to oppressions) and free them to live more liberational lives themselves, with a growing desire to help others to do so as well.
C. The biggest problem in a coping society (which we are generally), people end up in pain, and try to reach out at first for quality caring attention, and they are faced with a shortage of it available from others that are trusted and loved. This leads to disappoint and despair. It also leads to a numbing of the pain and eventual use of coping defense mechanisms of many kinds to "hide" and/or "medicate" onself with behaviors and/or substances--it all leads to a neurotic addiction patterning--often seen as 'normal' and/or even socially acceptable and proper. From a healing perspective, which LPC operates, there is no collusion for such addicting patterns because it is in the theory and experience of LPC that we know that such 'addicting' (avoidance of pain) is not the best way to go and not the first-choice a human would make IF they had the support to not make a coping choice but rather a healing choice. We all are on 'catch-up' in regard to getting a second-chance to make our first-choice when it comes to how to manage and transform our distress. Ideally, we can learn and practice LPC and other ways to move from a "culture of fear" to a "culture of fearlessness" --that is the path to real liberation!
D. The basic unit of peer-to-peer means one person first gives unconditional attention (like "deep listening") to their peer-partner in a timed "session" with basic protocols that are learned in the LPC training. Then, they exchange roles and the process is repeated. Both ought to finish the session with renewed energy, confidence and good thinking and creative ideas of how to solve their problems, how to move beyond oppressions because they understand the specific dynamics of how they are oppressed by diverse oppressions as well as how they have repressed their own inherent natural strengths, capacities to heal and sense of positive joy for being alive.
E. LPC sessions work because they begin to fulfill (in part) the lack of good attention (i.e., healing attention) that was missing in the past when they were injured, physically or emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually. Attention of this quality in LPC is the 'rare gold' as we call it--because it gives us all what we love at some level--and, that is to be attended to carefully, mindfully, compassionately by a caregiver or at least a substitute one. This attention in a session may take many forms from listening, to touching to being enwrapped in unconditional love. No advice is given in an LPC session by the person who is doing the counseling role for 1/2 of the session. Only if one asks for it when they are getting their turn for attention, may their peer-partner offer it but only with the intention to have the advice directly related to what came up out of that session from the peer-partner they were attending to.
F. LPC timed sessions are critical to its success. People, even with the best of intention, usually can only give high quality unconditional attention for so long. When one knows there's a time limit, and/or when they will also get attention to follow in the next 1/2 of a session, the exchange of care and attention goes up significantly and effectiveness of the process of recovery and healing are quickened. Of course, like all peer-to-peer models, the best effectiveness comes with a 'good match' of people involved; not all people can be compatible completely doing this work. However, it is also sometimes really productive to work in a peer-partnership (sometimes) that is not so much a 'good match' because many things can be stirred up for healing that might not come out with someone who is a 'good match'.
G. There are basic guidelines and protocols to assist people to heal their hurts, and these are things most of us will recognize when we see and/or hear them taught or demonstrated. They are natural tendencies. However, in an oppressive (coping) society, in contrast to a healing society, such innate knowledge and processes of the body have been suppressed and often forgot and/or denied (e.g., crying deeply), if not hated. LPC reclaims these processes and knowledges. Then healing may take place in their use again.
H. Typically (as on average), once with basic LPC training (i.e., 8+ hrs or more depending on the "class" type)  an LPC practitoner may reach out and/or respond to other LPC practioners, without any exchange of fees--as a gift of attention and care and knowledge of healing--once per week for a 1/2 hr session each--making a total of 1 hr/wk. Sometimes people meet on phone or online to do LPC. There can be many variations but a sacred quiet uninterrupted space is essential for a session.
I. A major component of becoming an LPC practitioner (which is a life-long learning), is that practitioners learn how to both "give" and "recieve" unconditional attention, which is a meta-skill itself, and makes a big difference in influencing many of one's skills of living in general. As well, typically LPC students and more experienced practitoners get together in learning groups at least once a month or so to teach themselves the fine-tuned aspects of LPC without the main teacher.
I (Fisher) and/or other LPC trained teachers are always available on-call to LPC practitioners if they want to consult on how things are going in their sessions. The long-range goal is to build an LPC community in your area of residence; and, for that to spread across the country and world.
Concerns About LPC Practice
Is this a profit, money-making venture to gain from people's hurt? No. LPC classes have always been a sliding-scale venture and no one is turned away because they want to take the courses but don't have the money. LPC was thus partially sponsored by donations from the In Search of Fearlessness Community. I was paid a basic right-livelihood wage for his time teaching but offered all his curriculum development and support to students as free-of-charge, as a gift.
Is this a place where some people can cause harm to others because peers are not trained counselors, psychologists, therapists? No. LPC in its years of operation has not had anyone complain that they have been harmed in a "two-way session" where both parties are trained in LPC theory and had some supervision in their practice from me.
Can a person be manipulated and controlled by another person trained in LPC. In an LPC peer-based session, there is not likely to be any negative manipulation or control because the basic premise of the LPC protocol is that Let the one being counseled be in charge of their own session. At the end of any session, peers are to give each other some form of constructive feedback of what just happened, so that everyone has a voice and sense of empowerment in how to improve the peer dynamic and the theory and practice overall.
Will LPC interfere with or enhance my current practices, e.g., yoga, meditation, mindfulness training, therapy, drug regimes, etc.? These are legitimate concerns and it is best you "try things out" first on your own to see what happens. Then, if concerns persist, contact me (Fisher).
These points have proved true over time and experience with this model. However, there are cases of individuals being so overwhelmed, if not florid in dissociated and/or psychotic states (thus, unable to return unconditional attention in 1/2 of the session) where effectiveness of LPC is not likely and not recommended. Consult with me if you have concerns.
1. My intention upon returning to Calgary, after being away for nearly 20 years, is to organize a first group interested in LPC and to start courses again this autumn. If you are interested in becoming part of this resurgence of LPC in Calgary, or Western Canada, contact me.
2. The 6 'Fear' Vaccines named by myself began with Spontaneous Creation-making (art as healing) offered to the Calgary community to diverse populations in the early 1990s on, and this grew into five other practices of which LPC was foundational, and added later were Knowledge on Fear and Fearlessness, Community Building, Sacred Warriorship, and Vision Quest. Recently, I have added CAT-FAW/N, a de-hypnotizing fearlessness technology from the work of Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Trent Jacobs).
3. These are international peer-to-peer grassroots liberation movements that are easily accessed on the Internet for more infomation. Note, from my view, 99% of peer-to-peer models available in North America (at least) are not based on recovery, healing and liberation as their aim; rather, they are based on helping people cope better; that is, they only little, or not at all, bring in the adequate theory and practices that LPC does to undermine oppressions.
4. LPC is not sanctioned by Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) nor International Co-counseling (IC), but also LPC has not discouraged anyone in LPC from adopting other forms of peer-to-peer practices. Fisher had his Fundamentals RC Class in 1983 in Red Deer, AB by Esme' a certified RC teacher at the time. I have gone to many RC workshops over the years and began teaching courses on it in the early 1990s. I also am a general support of P-2-P as a relational philosophy/movement worldwide.
5. I taught 4 Levels of LPC training; and, a small handful of LPC graduates eventually began to teach in Calgary on their own. None have been teaching systematically since 1999, and Fisher has only taught a few courses in Vancouver, and one in Carbondale, IL over the years since 1999. It is time to bring the practice back into the community.
6. I am a long-time researcher, educator, fearologist, and has in depth knowledge on fear and fearlessness to bring into LPC and/or beyond LPC... I believe we can attain a "Fearless Society" as a high aim for human potential, and that would ecologically benefit all other species and other-than-humans that exist on and share this planet.
7. I encourage people with an hr. or less of "training" (gathering info.) that they can also benefit and participate in a "session" --although, it is best they find an experienced LPC peer-partner for this. As well, some people may benefit from LPC practices being applied by an LPC practitioner, even if the receiver does not know LPC is being invoked, and even if the LPCer does not say they are doing LPC (especially, at the beginning of attending to another in distress). Eventually, an LPC trained individual may (or may not) disclose the practice they applied to someone who doesn't know what has been applied. The latter is compassion with an LPC agenda.
I have created a video on Liberational Peer Counselling Outside of Distress which describes one particular method used in LPC. This video is not meant as a general introduction but will give viewers an opportunity to 'get a feel' for my teaching and some LPC basic principles. For LPCers familiar with my teaching, this video will be a good practice/theory reminder of an important approach to LPC work.