Finding a Consultant for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) helps employees deal with personal and psychological problems that can affect their working lives.
Depending on the situation, participation in an EAP can be voluntary or compulsory.
In this article, we explain what an EAP program is and what types of services it offers. We’ll also explain the benefits of EAP advice for both employees and employers, and provide tips on how to access it.
An EAP provides help and support to employees who have problems that can affect their job performance. In this way, EAPs benefit both workers and their employers.
An EAP can help an employee deal with a variety of issues, such as:
- Conflicts in the workplace
- work-related trauma
- mental problems, such as depression and anxiety
- Substance abuse problems
- Relationship problems such as marital disputes
In most cases, an employee can volunteer to contact an EAP. In rare cases, an employer may make such participation mandatory – for example, if a police officer shoots someone or an employee has a substance use disorder that interferes with their job performance.
An EAP consultant signs a contract with an EAP to support workers in difficult or challenging times.
In some cases, an employer uses an in-house consultant. For example, a large first responder organization or a public service may have a dedicated advisor on site.
In most cases, employers enter into contracts with external advisory services. A person may be able to choose their own counselor, but only from a list of counselors that the EAP plan covers.
EAP counselors are typically licensed therapists, which means they have at least a master’s degree and meet state admission requirements.
However, some employers enter into a contract with a company where crisis counselors without advanced qualifications answer initial phone calls. If a caller needs further assistance, the counselor can refer the caller to a qualified therapist.
An EAP advisor can offer a number of services including:
- psychological counseling
- Substance Abuse Support
- Mental health and substance abuse reviews
- Group or marriage counseling
However, an individual’s employer can only pay for certain expenses. For example, if an employee seeks help with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), their employer may not be willing to pay for advice on unrelated issues.
In addition, an employer can limit the number of consultations a person can receive.
In most cases, EAP counselors offer short-term care, as opposed to counseling that extends over many months or years.
An EAP program can help both employers and employees.
Some potential benefits for employers are:
- Workers who are more productive because of mental health support
- less need to fire or discipline otherwise productive employees because of issues that affect their job performance
- fewer employee absences
- a company that is more attractive to potential employees because of an EAP
Some potential employee benefits are:
- feel less stigmatized about seeking treatment for mental health problems
- feel encouraged to seek help sooner with any mental health problem
- Get affordable access to mental health care
- receive mandatory EAP counseling to help them get support with mental health issues that they might otherwise be able to ignore
Access to an EAP advisor varies from job to job.
There are two main ways to access an EAP advisor: self referral and mandatory referral.
In most companies, their employees can seek advice themselves. To do this, a person should contact their Human Resources (HR) department and ask about the procedure for using the EAP. A person can then look through a list of advisors and call the selected adviser to make an appointment.
When employees refer themselves, the EAP program does not provide care data to their employer. However, it can provide anonymized information that enables the employer to identify the number of workers who have turned to each other for help with specific problems during the year.
Sometimes an employer can require a worker to participate in an EAP. In such cases, the counselor can provide the employer with certain information, such as confirmation that the employee has attended counseling. However, a consultant cannot provide the employer with any further information without the consent of the employee.
While an employer can make participation in an EAP a condition of continued employment, it cannot force participation if a person is willing to quit or lose their job.
Before starting the counseling, a person should ask their counselor the following questions:
- What information, if any, do you give my employer?
- Are there any exceptions to the confidentiality rules?
- Are there limits to what I can talk about in meetings that my employer pays for?
- How many sessions can I have?
An EAP is different from an advisor that a person sees through their employer-funded insurance. When both options are available, an employee may want to weigh the benefits and risks of each option. If a person seeks advice through their insurance, their employer will not find out, but the person may have to pay more.
Some other options that employees may have access to include:
- other utility programs in the workplace, such as B. Conflict resolution or mediation meetings by a human resources department
- Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous
- internal self-help groups sponsored by the employer, especially if many employees are struggling with similar problems
An EAP can be an affordable way to access psychological support for work-related issues or issues that affect job performance. Examples of such problems are conflict in the workplace, substance use problems, and depression.
EAP programs offer high quality care from licensed mental health professionals. However, the specific rules that each program must follow vary from state to state and from one employer to another.
Individuals seeking advice on an EAP should contact their HR department for more information on accessing this service.