What is an E.A.P.?

By David Joel Miller.

E. A. P. stands for employee assistance program.

Man questioning

E.A.P. Sometimes you need a little help.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Many companies have a series of services available to their employees to help with outside of work issues. These out of work problems can affect an employee’s performance at work. Employees with legal problems, tax problems, or emotional and relational problems may have difficulty functioning effectively at work.

Companies may offer their employees the opportunity to consult with a professional about personal issues. The option to use an E.A.P. is often part of the employee’s benefits package. There are outside companies who contract with employers to provide E.A.P. services. The E.A.P. provider then contracts with lawyers, accountants, and counselors and therapists. Some medical insurance companies also offer E.A.P. programs.

E.A.P.’s and therapy.

One important E.A.P. service is counseling or therapy. Plans vary widely in how much counseling and what kinds of counseling are covered. These plans are not meant to replace medical insurance for long-term and serious mental illnesses. What the E.A.P plan does cover is a small number of sessions with a counselor or therapist to help people deal with the problems of life.

How E.A.P. counseling works.

An employee at a company with an E.A.P. plan decides they have a problem they need to talk about, but they may not want to talk to their supervisor about this issue. They call their companies E.A.P. provider. This company has been contracted in advance to provide services for all the companies employees. The E.A.P. company may provide the service themselves, but more commonly when it comes to emotional issues, they will refer that employee to a counselor who can provide the needed service.

Generally, the E.A.P. Company authorizes a set number of sessions of counseling. E.A.P. counseling is meant to be brief in nature. Depending on the employer’s plan, three, six, or even 12 free sessions of counseling are provided. The details of what the client talks about are not reported to the company they work for. Once the counselor sees the client, they bill the E.A.P. company for the session.

What kind of problems does E.A.P. counseling cover?

Relationship issues, with either partners, children, or parents are frequent topics of E.A.P. counseling. Other common E.A.P. counseling topics include drinking and substance use problems, educational issues, moves, deaths in the family and other grief and loss challenges.

What problems are generally not included in E.A.P. counseling?

E.A.P. counseling is designed to be brief and covers a limited number of sessions. It is sometimes described as “non-medical counseling.” Most plans exclude serious and persistent mental illness. If the client receives a mental health diagnosis, they will be referred to a therapist on the client’s medical insurance panel.

Does brief E.A.P. counseling work?

Counselors who work with E.A.P.’s do a lot of brief counseling interventions. These can be highly effective in helping people through an immediate crisis. In my private practice, I do a lot of brief E.A.P. type work. I find it very rewarding to be able to help people reduce their problems and improve the quality of their life.

If you work somewhere that has an E.A.P. plan and you have been struggling with an emotional challenge, consider using your E.A.P. to help you through the struggles you are facing.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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