Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do the 2009 EAPA Standards for EAPs Dispose of "800# eaps"?

The EAPA STANDARDS AND PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES FOR EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS (EAPS)were sent to the EAPA membership today. In case you missed them, here they are:

>>> Standards for Employee Assistance Programs

Hats off to the folks that worked so diligently with these standards to help the profession move down the path toward more definition, which of course helps preserve the integrity of the field.

Everyone in the membership--and every corporate customer or those who advise corporate customers in the procurement of employee assistance programs should read these standards. Ditto insurance companies, labor leaders, and students merging into EAP field.

Of course, like anyone else, I have a keyboard to spout my opinion on, but it is my belief after reading these standards that there is no way on earth that an "800#" sold by a managed care company as "EAP" (with a little structure thrown in for good measure) can be an EAP. (I worked for such program for about eleven months, so I have some experience to draw on.)

Believe me, I don't call what I was doing an EAP. However, from my cubicle on the 14th floor, I did a pretty good job servicing seven or eight Fortune 500 companies at once.

(Confession, well, we tried anyway. However, the piled up outpatient treatment reports needing authorization on our desks from therapists around the country, sometimes caused us to miss phone calls.)

I think part A of the Epoxy Cement that stick the EA profession back together is sitting in front of us with this document. Part B is needed. That would be an official position statement by the Association that applies these standards to various EAP models and declares them acceptable or defunct. Why read between the lines. Let's just get it out there.

When Congress passes laws and regulations that govern workplace and workplace employment practices, they have an office down the street that gets a copy of the legislation the next morning after being signed by the President. That organization is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They interpret the regs and its nuances and say what's what. That might be a very cool step for EAPA to take as well.

EAPA should take a stand and consider a mechanism that clearly rejects programs and services calling themselves EAPs that don't meet the standards. These are elephants in the EAP living room and they have been smashing the house up for 20 years. We like to ignore, for the sake of "all getting along", these obvious problems.

If this next evolutionary step is taken, a wonderful thing may follow--a profession that roars back to a unified membership of 7000 members, rather than the 3600 it now struggles to keep. And, like 25 years ago, we may hear one voice sharing a common definition and vision of what an EAP really is and should be. As a side benefit, I think EAPs would become more of a "household term" and even my mother might stop calling them an EPA.

>>> Standards for Employee Assistance Programs