The Key to EAP

EAP…Employee Assistance Programs.


Did you know that EAP Programs started as an in house 12th step for Alcoholics Anonymous? These programs have truly grown over the years to play a more comprehensive role in the life of the employee. In the late 1970’s, we saw a more comprehensive mental health component become a part of the EAP landscape.


Since then, these programs have only grown and become more popular as employers and employees both see the value in a marriage between workplace wellness and company performance. These days, it is common for EAP services to happen outside of the workplace with neutral mental health professionals that can offer the confidentiality and privacy so important to the therapeutic process.


Working with EAP programs can really be an asset to your private practice, but there are a few things you need to know to really maximize the impact of this potential referral partner. For you to successfully master working with EAPs, you will have to become astute at communicating with both the EAP Programs and the clients you see.


1. Levels of transparency

EAP programs require differing levels of transparency. Some EAP programs require that you share some clinical information with them after the initial assessment before they will authorize additional sessions. Others are looking for you to complete a fairly extensive report as a part of your billing packet. Really think through the level of transparency that you are comfortable with and ensure you are protecting your client’s information when necessary.


2. Clarity for your clients

Bear in mind that there maybe certain supervisory referral cases that require you to communicate in greater detail about an employee’s suitability to function in the workplace. Be open and straight forward with your clients in those situations, so everyone is on the same page and working collaboratively for the best possible result.


3. Research each EAP individually.

There is a huge amount of variation when it comes to EAP programs. They have different rules about the number of sessions, rates of reimbursement, initial paperwork, billing procedures and whether or not you can self-refer at the close of the EAP relationship. If you are working with several EAPs, it can seem tempting to lump them all into one central pot, but that could be a costly mistake. Take the time to really familiarize yourself with each EAP Program you are seeking to work with. Make sure you are choosing to work with those that have policies and procedures that resonate with the existing work flow in your practice.


4. Clinical Approach with EAP Clients

In working with EAP clients, you must have the ability to quickly establish rapport. You also have to frame very clear, short-term goals that are directed towards supporting them in being successful both at home and at work. In the beginning of your work, be clear about how EAP works…so your client has a hand in defining what will be considered a successful outcome for your work together.


5. Appropriate Assessments

You may also wish to modify your assessment process. It would be a waste of the precious few sessions that you have to develop a detailed Intake Evaluation and Treatment Plan for a client that will only be with you for 3 sessions. Instead, defer to the documentation requirement that your EAP Referral Source has…until, of course…the client becomes an official client of your practice.

Speaking of that…what approach will you take to retaining clients that come through EAP? Next week, we will review tips on how to increase your chances of taking the counseling relationship beyond those first few EAP sessions.


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