What happens in EAP?
May 3, 2010 5:56 PM   Subscribe

What happens when you go to EAP? (Or other low/no-cost therapy programs in Maryland.)

I've been heading towards getting some therapy for a while since I've pretty much been trying on my own (sunshine, exercise, other crap) to deal with the soul-sucking depression and anxiety that seems to never really leave me. I think that it might be time to let the professionals take a crack at this. However, money is tight for me (like everyone, it seems) and while I make too much to qualify for pretty much all sliding scale programs, I don't really have enough to spend the $70/session (a week) that seems to be the going rate on PsychologyToday.

However, there seems to be some semblance of hope! My employer has one of those EAP things. (I've found two sites about it but I don't know why they seem so different.)

Of course, there's a catch. One of my problems is trying to make phone calls, especially for new or high-stakes sort of things. I've been trying to write out some sort of script, but my mind just goes blank. The other thing is that I'm not sure about having to drive to Baltimore (since I don't work on the main campus) and that just seems like it would be really hard to do (since driving in congested cities causes me to freak out and cry).

I live in Montgomery County, Maryland but am willing to travel to Howard and Prince George's if I need to.

And now, the questions:
1. What exactly happens when a person calls these sorts of programs?

2. Will anyone I work with find out?

3. Is there some sort of script that I can use to make this phone call?

4. Any advice?

5. If going through EAP is a bad idea, what other options would exist for me?

If anyone doesn't want to respond here, I've set up one of those temporary email accounts here: helpwitheap@gmail.com.

Thanks everyone. I'm sure I'm freaking out over nothing, but I'm trying to get working on it.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I work for an EAP and they are all a little different but speaking from my experience, the most important elements of EAP services are that they are free, confidential and voluntary. Our EAP records are not connected to personnel records, which is very important for clients (you) to have peace of mind about the private info you are sharing. Any good EAP clinician should go over both the confidentiality statement of understanding and the privacy notice to inform you of your rights and what happens to the info you provide; this is especially true if the clinicians are licensed in your state. I am a licensed social worker and thus bound by law and ethics to retain confidentiality.

As far as the nature of the services, each EAP is different in terms of what they offer. The clinicians may be able to provide time limited interventions (e.g. six sessions) or short-term therapy that is solution-focused. Or they may provide appropriate referrals to resources or providers that suite your needs and are aligned with your ability to pay/cover with insurance. The best part about EAP services in my mind is that we are able to do a comprehensive assessment and talk with clients about the options available - so I think it's a great first step.

My advice is to definitely ask about the nature/extent of services offered and about confidentiality...be honest and make your needs known. Good luck!
posted by boofidies at 6:31 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

An EAP is simply a contract between your employer and a local counseling agency to provide services to the employees. Some agencies are actually formed specifically to provide services to area businesses (and may have EAP in their name), but they are all counselors.

I looked at both of those websites, and it looks like the second one is just a prettier, updated version of the first one. They have the same phone number, so it looks like the same program. This one looks like it's run by Johns Hopkins itself (makes sense if they provide counseling services for everyone).

When you call, you make an appointment to see a counselor. Then you go to the appointment and talk to the counselor about what you need help with. It's just like going to any other counselor. EAP services are usually meant for brief (10 sessions or less) counseling. So, don't expect long term services for free, but you can talk with your counselor about your treatment plan (length, etc).

The EAP bills your employer for the number of sessions they provide their employees each month. It is my understanding that your name or information about your issues aren't released to your employer (that would be a HIPPA violation) unless you have signed a release. So, human resources or accounting would get a bill for sessions, but it shouldn't have any identifying information and shouldn't be shared with your supervisor. I am not a HR person or an accountant, so I couldn't tell you exactly what information is shared with your employer. Feel free to ask the EAP when you call exactly what information is shared with your employer.

When you call, say this: "Hi, I am an employee at _________. I would like to see someone for depression symptoms." Then they'll ask for your name and make you an appointment.

If you don't want to drive into Baltimore, ask them if they have offices closer to your area. If they are a big enough agency, they might. But...you'll need to make sure that the EAP services are covered at those other offices. From looking at the websites you linked to, their locations are on campus. However, if you work off campus they may have contracted with someone in your area for people who work in your location. I'd call the EAP number to ask.

Basically, EAP services are just like counseling anywhere else. The great thing is that they are free, and often removes a barrier for people needing help but not being able to afford it.

Good luck!
posted by MultiFaceted at 6:35 PM on May 3, 2010

EAP is a great place to "try out" therapy. You can just go talk to a counselor about your concerns, and they will either let you know if your issues can be handled through the services they provide or they can refer you to a therapist. If you are referred to someone else, EAP will be able to make a recommendation based on what you can afford and what your health insurance (assuming you have some) will cover.

To answer your specific questions:

1. You will speak to a receptionist-type person and you will tell her that you would like to speak to a counselor regarding depression and anxiety. She will ask you for your contact information and set up the appointment. There's no need to go into any detail with this person. When you meet with the counselor, he or she will ask you why you've come and you will outline whatever is going on (write it all down ahead of time if that helps you).

2. Not unless you mention it. If you need to take time off of your regular job to go to the appointment, you may need to tell your boss that you're going to EAP, but you don't have to say why. These programs also usually sponsor wellness programs and work-life balance strategies, so it's easy to mask why you are going if you so choose.

3. You say: "My name is Anon E. Mouse and I would like to make an appointment with a counselor. I believe I have depression and anxiety." That's it. Answer whatever questions they ask and you're done!

4. Do it sooner rather than later. No reason to put off feeling better.

5. I can't think of any reason not to use EAP. These are good, helpful programs. Really. I'm an HR person at a University and I wish I could make yearly visits mandatory for some of the staff in my area. We could all benefit from having someone to talk to from time to time.
posted by donajo at 6:38 PM on May 3, 2010

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