The Liberia Association of Psychosocial Services (LAPS) is a Liberian non-governmental organization, established in August 2007 and is dedicated to bring relief to survivors of war  trauma and torture as well as GBV of all age groups, so as to enable them  effectively function in their communities.

LAPS strives to achieve this goal through a wide range of activities, including raising community awareness on psychosocial and mental health related issues;  trauma recovery and  associated psychosocial activities, training of community members and leaders as well as partner organizations and agencies, and continuing capacity building of its own psychosocial counselors. 

 Brief History of LAPS

LAPS was established by the Liberian employees of the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), an international organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.  Founded in 1985, CVT was one of the first organizations in the United States to be dedicated to providing care and rehabilitative services to victims of politically motivated violence and torture.  CVT has since then become an internationally recognized provider of psychosocial training and direct services.  Currently CVT works with 35 organizations and programs working with torture survivors in the United States as well as 17 organizations around the world to improve their capacity to provide specialized services.  Its program in West Africa was initiated in 1999 when CVT started to provide psychosocial support to Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea.  Since then, the activities expanded to Sierra Leone (when Sierra Leoneans started to repatriate in 2001) as well as to Liberia (since April 2005 as Liberians began going home), while the Guinea program closed in March 2005 after serving nearly five thousand Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees. 

CVT trained scores of Liberians as psychosocial counsellors, both in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and through them provided clinically sound, culturally contextualized mental health care to thousands of severely traumatized refugees between 2002 and 2005.  The effectiveness of the program received international recognition when CVT accepted the American Psychological Association’s 2006 International Humanitarian Award.  Once Liberian program started in 2005, many of these psychosocial counsellors repatriated to initiate the program, while new recruits who have never left the country during the course of the armed conflicts joined them.  In Liberia, CVT operated its mental health programs in Montserrado, Bong, and Lofa counties until 2008 when the operation was downsized and services became available only in Lofa. 

It was in the planning stage of this scaling down, in mid 2007, that, anticipating the eventual departure of the international NGO, the psychosocial counsellors decided to form their own organization.   By this time, psychosocial counselors have obtained years of experience under CVT with close supervision and continuous training from expatriate mental health professionals with variety of disciplinary, professional, and cultural backgrounds.  Many counsellors who worked in refugee camps in Sierra Leone had obtained a Diploma (an equivalence of an Associate’s degree) in Psychosocial Counseling from a Sierra Leonean University.

Besides, since 2013 to present, LAPS staffs have been receiving advanced ongoing capacity building services under the auspices of a USAID funded project called: Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH). Through the PATH project, LAPS staffs have participated in international conferences in Belgium, Kenya, Georgia, South Africa and Tanzania. Moreover, LAPS has advisors in clinical work, program evaluation and organization development (OD) and, an expatriate psychotherapist trainer that offers regular onsite support to field staffs.  

Date

Sunday, 31st May 2020
9:47:24pm