Man visually describes Employee Assistance Programs with a dry erase marker and board

Employee Assistance Programs: Get the Help You Need

There are a select few people who can compartmentalize their lives and leave their private worries at home. For the rest of us, personal matters can affect us on and off the clock. Stress can be overwhelming and counseling is not a cheap expense. However, many businesses have an employee assistance program included in their compensation and benefits packages. Despite the availability of this useful resource, employee assistance programs tend to go unused. If you need to seek help, look into your workplace EAP.

How can my EAP help me?

A common misconception about employee assistance programs is that you can’t receive counseling for non-work related issues. Of course, you can discuss work stressors, but you aren’t limited to such problems. You can receive help if you struggle with substance abuse, a gambling addiction, or a mental health affliction. Family, financial, and relationship problems can be addressed as well.

EAP counselors are certified specialists who meet with you privately. And just like your company health insurance, your spouse and children are eligible for employee assistance benefits as well. Unless you disclose you plan to put yourself in danger (or plan to endanger someone else), anything said during your sessions are considered confidential.

How can I start EAP-provided counseling?

To make your first appointment, you’ll need to contact the counselor by phone. Sessions can be held either over the phone or in person. Meetings are flexible, especially if conducted via telephone, as the phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can refer yourself to your EAP; if your supervisor notices a change in behavior or performance, she or he may refer you. Even if your supervisor directs you to employee counseling, she or he is not allowed to know what was discussed.

85% of workplaces have an employee assistance program. If you are unsure if your company provides EAP services, reach out to your human resources department.

Is there an additional cost for EAP counseling?

Often, these programs are entirely free for employees. You’ll have a set amount of free sessions, and if you need further counseling, your will be referred to long-term services. These additional meetings may not be totally free. Many employers will assist with external counseling costs, or even reimburse you for the expense.