A young adult male sitting down with his EAP counselor

Ever feel like you have an issue that can’t be solved? Maybe it’s so specific you wonder if there’s a professional qualified to deal with it. Or you might wonder where to turn to get guidance for a concern you think is especially unique.

Look no further than EAP counseling. Whether you’re curious about what you can get from your EAP services or you’re interested in becoming an EAP counselor yourself, read on to learn about what EAP counselors do on the day-to-day and how they can address every issue you might face.

EAP counselors work with a vast range of needs and concerns. Because an EAP counselor offers services to all those employed at a specific company, the needs are as diverse and complex as the employees.

EAP counselors are generalist practitioners

Although some counselors specify their work to address a particular population or need, such as a substance use counselor or marriage counselor, many also work as generalist practitioners. That means that whatever the client is facing, the counselor is there to help. 

Most education for mental health professionals provides a foundation for this type of practice, so that counselors are equipped to offer professional guidance in all areas of life. If their schooling hasn’t covered the full scope of an issue, counselors quickly gain experience in their professional practice that helps to guide future treatment. 

A counselor’s daily schedule

The format of a counselor’s day-to-day schedule is fairly similar across the field, as it mostly consists of scheduled sessions, occasional crisis intervention and collaboration with other practitioners. 

The bulk of a counselor’s day typically revolves around preparing for and holding sessions with clients. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of counseling, imagine holding numerous similar sessions a day, with some time in between to prepare any materials and to document sessions.

A quick note on documentation: counselors may have several dozen clients, so taking notes of important details for each client can help to clarify and jog their memory before the next session. They may also have to document information for billing purposes, but don’t worry – your personal information is always kept confidential and will never be shared with an employer. If you’re hoping to become an EAP counselor, you can anticipate that some note-taking will be a part of your daily routine.

Outside of counseling sessions, counselors may engage in meetings with other counselors to collaborate and discuss the best way to address client’s concerns. Don’t worry, any client information is protected and no identifiable information can be exchanged during discussions. These meetings occur for the sole purpose of improving professional practice and offering clients the best services possible.

EAP counseling also includes professional development. Whether this is offered by the EAP company or individuals seek out their own development programs, counselors keep up on current and evidence-based treatments by participating in seminars or conferences and reading up to date research.

Depending on company policy, EAP counselors might also be involved in crisis intervention. When emergency situations arise, counselors can offer their services to support individuals and connect clients to resources.

Issues you might encounter as an EAP counselor

The list of concerns EAP counselors address is limitless, but here are some examples of the clients and presenting problems counselors might encounter:

  • A law enforcement officer who is coping with the stress of rising domestic violence calls in his city
  • An office employee dealing with the loss of his wife and looking for assistance finding childcare
  • An employee struggling with substance abuse
  • The child of a worker who has had numerous suspensions from school (yes, family members can typically use EAP benefits, too)
  • An employee fresh out of college who is struggling to handle student loans and moving to a new city
  • A worker who takes care of her elderly parents and needs local resources to help manage their medical needs during the day
  • A parent of a new foster child who is eager to learn some parenting strategies
  • Teachers dealing with the loss of a student to suicide
  • An employee whose husband just lost his job and the family needs support finding affordable housing

There’s a common misconception that EAP counseling only deals with work-related stress. EAPs are designed to offer employees an outlet for that, but they also are meant to address any and all of life’s difficulties. The idea is that if an employee’s stress is reduced, overall satisfaction and productivity at work will increase. It’s a win-win for both the employee and the company.

If you’re interested in becoming an EAP counselor or just curious about the daily life on the other end of your company’s benefits, know that EAP counselors operate much like other professional counselors. The main difference is that EAP counselors serve employees and family members within a specific company. If your company has an EAP, those services are free for you to use. They are not associated with your healthcare plan and can be taken advantage of at any time. Even if your concerns were not mentioned above, you can expect an EAP counselor to be equipped to help you. Visit Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP online to learn more, or call (800) 543-5080 today.

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