Monday, July 30, 2012

Help Employees Help Their Friends

Not all attempts to help a friend are major interventions like the class substance abuse intervention. Many more are simply conversations between friends that inspire behavior change. Help employees understand more effectively how to have these conversations and you'll reach family members with the influence of your EAP. Even better, hold a brown bag or short seminar on this topic and watch your attendance at such an event sore. When guiding employees, the key is to ask if the client is seeing signs of denial in a friend with a personal problem requiring urgent action to resolve it? Personal problems with tough choices usually include denial. Others use minimization (the friend knows there’s a problem but denies it’s serious) or projection (the friend admits it is serious but says it is not their responsibility to deal with it for some reason). Absent a crisis, the friend simply isn’t motivated to get help yet. Discuss the forgoing concepts in the counseling session. Denial-laden personal problems include compulsive shopping, refusal to see a doctor, ignoring creditors, struggling with alcohol dependence, staying in an abusive relationship, and many more. Here's some brief guidance to consider offering to the client: Start by talking with your friend. Mention your concerns, but don’t threaten or be aggressive. Key is stating your observations and their impact on you, loved ones, and your friend’s life. Ask to help. Mention your obligation to support him or her as a friend. If you sense anger or defensiveness, remain calm and understanding. Rarely do friends part ways over honesty, at least not permanently. If needed, talk to an expert about the problem to get more pointers. This could be a counselor, an attorney, or even the police. Stay healthy, detached, and objective. Remember, your goal is to encourage the first action step toward help, not to “own” the problem of a friend who won’t seek it.