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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

EAPs and Your Privacy

If you needed help—if you had problems with your home or work life—would you, could you, get the help you needed from an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

The facts: as many as one in five employers in the UK now offers an EAP,
defined as a confidential, free-to-use service that allows all employees (and sometimes their immediate families) to talk about problems with their work and home lives. EAP counselors typically help employees resolve issues by providing comprehensive assessments and short-term counseling. (In the U.S., about half of all full-time workers have access to EAPs.)

Employees and their on-site counselors have the same privacy privilege as psychotherapists and their patients. Yet at least in the UK, only one in 10 employees takes advantage of EA programs. Maybe because of concerns about confidentiality.

How far can EAPs go to help employees and at the same time protect their privacy? It's an interesting question. I'm curious to know what your experience is, either personal or hearsay. I think there's some connection (that I haven't yet precisely defined) between this issue and one I've been watching for awhile as part of my health education research— that of mental health parity.

Post a comment if you like. Meanwhile, here's some information on options offered by EAPs "across the pond."


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