Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

When chemical dependency treatment programs sprang up all over the United States in the last half of the 1970s, recovering alcoholics and other concerned people tried to bring the concepts of intervention and aftercare support into the workplace. The idea was to help employees get into treatment, and then to support their recovery afterward. The alcoholism contacts or the offices responsible became known as employee assistance programs (EAPS).

Internal and External EAPs

There are two major approaches to implementing an employee assistance program. One is for the EAP to be an office within the company, an internal EAP. Often this kind of EAP is attached to the medical or personnel department. Here the EAP usually works closely with other internal departments and with the worker’s supervisors. The other major approach is to use an EAP service that is outside and relatively independent of the company. These EAPs have contracts to provide services to a number of companies.

Team Approach

The better employee assistance programs have a multidisciplinary team including certified employee assistance professionals to evaluate and refer the employees and their families to counseling or treatment. Most of these programs offer a “broad brush” service where they are prepared to deal with any problem that might affect an employee’s job performance, from alcoholism and drug addiction to financial trouble, marital problems, and personality conflicts with supervisors or coworkers.


Many EAPs conduct aftercare group sessions, or refer their clients to counselors who have aftercare programs. The EAP idea has become a valuable employee benefit, and we hope the current environment of cost consciousness will not reduce the involvement of good EAP services.

Employee assistance programs, see also: Aftercare, Anorexia nervosa, Certification, Codependency, Core functions, Counseling, Dual diagnosis, Halfway house, Impaired professionals, Intervention, Professional organizations, Psychological problems, Therapy & treatment, Withdrawal.

Updated 11 Sep 2015

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