Using EAP Benefits

Many insurance carriers offer two benefits which cover visits to a psychologist. In addition to your regular mental health benefit, you may have an EAP benefit. EAP stands for Employee Assistance Professional. EAP’s are usually on-site counselors with mental health training, but many employees are now offered the opportunity to see a psychologist away from work that is supposed to perform the same function as the on-site counselors.

The role of the EAP is to provide assessment, referral, crisis intervention, and brief problem resolution. EAP’s often help individuals realize their need for help, but do not necessarily provide the help if the problem is complicated.

A crisis intervention plan usually includes the following elements:

  • Stabilization – Identify daily behaviors that will help to immediately stabilize an individual (exercise, deep breathing, redirecting negative thoughts)
  • Identify and utilize resources – Encourage contact with an individual’s social support network (friends, family, co-workers)
  • Create new sources for support – Identify additional support that will continue after EAP visits end (referral to support groups, utilizing workbooks and classes, anger management)
  • Establish a safety plan – Identify emergency resources and a plan for utilizing them (locate nearest ER, suicide hotline)

Effective crisis intervention plans are:

  • Realistic – include only those behaviors that are achievable
  • Simple – avoid the possibility of overwhelming an individual
  • Specific – step-by-step guidance
  • Accessible – instructions are written down for later reference to avoid upset and confusion

EAP benefits are being offered to employees who call their managed health plans because they are cheaper for the insurance company which usually pays less per hour for EAP counseling. EAP counselors spend different amounts of time with you than psychologist do, and the time is spent differently. It is supposed to be spent on accomplishing the above goals.

Published by

Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

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