Employee Assistance Program

What is Employee Assistance Program?

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential, short term, counselling service for employees with personal problems that affect their work performance. EAPs grew out of industrial alcoholism programs of the 1940’s. EAPs should be part of a larger company plan to promote wellness that involves written policies, supervisor and employee training, and, where appropriate, an approved drug testing program.

An employee assistance programs (EAP) is an employee benefit program that helps employee assist with personal problems and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mentally and emotionally well-being. EAPs generally offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services for employees and their household members. EAP counselors also work in a consultative role with managers and supervisors to address employee and organizational challenges and needs. Many corporations, academic institution and/or government agency are active in helping organizations prevent and cope with workplace violence, trauma, and other emergency response situations. There are variety of support programs for the employees even though the EAPs are mainly aimed at work-related problems but will also assist employees with problems outside of the workplace. EAPs have grown over the years, and are more desirable economically and socially.


What is the purpose of an EAP?

The EAP offers help with the resolution of problems that are affecting work. These problems, however, do not have to be caused by workplace issues. Employee Assistance Programs are designed to help people understand or overcome their personal problems. While most EAPs offer a wide range of services, they often refer to other professionals or agencies who can offer more or extended care in particular areas.


What are the benefits of EAP?

Benefits of EAP are:

  • Direct Access: Employees call the psychologist’s office directly.
  • Quick Response: The first counseling session occurs within a few days, and a crisis is dealt with immediately.
  • Professional: Counselors have their Doctorate degree in clinical psychology, and are experts in human behavior.
  • Confidentiality: The employer never knows who uses the service.
  • Off-Site: Counseling takes place at the Psychologist’s office.
  • Direct Treatment: Referrals are made only when the patient requires another specialist or long-term care.
  • Appropriate Coverage: 24 hours a day hot-line with offices in towns and cities in which employees are located


What types of services does an EAP offer?

The range of areas typically managed by an EAP provider include:

  • Personal issues,
  • Job/occupational stress,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Relationship issues,
  • Health care concerns,
  • Eldercare, childcare, parenting issues,
  • Major life events, including births, accidents and deaths,
  • Harassment,
  • Substance abuse,
  • Separation and loss,
  • Balancing work and family,
  • Financial or legal,
  • Family violence.


What types of services does an EAP offer?

The main services are:

  • Face-to-face and online assessment and testing,
  • Face-to-face and online counseling and therapy,
  • Face-to-face and online supervision.

The main formats are:

  • Individual,
  • Children/Adolescent,
  • Couples/Marriage and Family,
  • Group.


Who can use an EAP?

EAP are open to all employees and members of their immediate family.


What happens with an EAP referral and who knows about it?

In an EAP, there are three types of referrals:

  1. Self-referral where the employee seeks help on their own.
  2. The informal referral where a supervisor, friend or co-worker recommends the EAP.
  3. A formal referral is based on job performance and the supervisor recommends the EAP.


What makes an EAP successful?

Several factors make an EAP successful:

  • Strict confidentiality.
  • Open to employees and their immediate families.
  • Recognition and commitment by management, employees and union (if there is one) that an EAP is needed.
  • Policies and procedures supported by top management, employees and the union.
  • Establishment of both formal and informal referral procedures.
  • Promotion of the EAP and encouragement to use the service.
  • Managers and employees educated in the workings of the EAP.
  • Periodic evaluation of the EAP to be sure the needs of both the employee and the employer are being met.

In addition, the EAP must be monitored and evaluated to ensure continued quality of the referral/assistance and to correct potential trouble situations. An appropriate assessment, referral and follow-up of progress are important for continued success of the EAP.