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May 11, 1995

Employee Assistance

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a long-time benefit to medical center employees that was extended to all University of Pittsburgh employees last fall, offers free, confidential counseling and referral services for personal and job-related problems. Staff members from EAP will contribute to this new Employee Assistance column, which will be published periodically throughout the year.

Are people really using the Employee Assistance Program? Yes. This new benefit is already well accepted. By the end of March 1995, 175 university employees had contacted the EAP for services. A variety of problems and concerns have been addressed. Faculty and staff heard about the EAP through the brochure which was mailed in the fall, through friends who have used the program, and through EAP presentations.

What kinds of people are using the program? Is it mostly staff? People of all positions have talked to our counselors — administrators, faculty, research assistants and associates, secretaries, technical people, etc. No one group has shown more utilization than another.

How can I be sure that my visits are confidential? The EAP policy states that no confidential information can be given without the written permission of the person using the program; names or any identifying information are NEVER revealed without written consent. With a separate entrance and exit and private waiting areas, the EAP suite is designed to protect confidentiality. EAP counselors are highly ethical and never talk about their clients to anyone other than their own clinical supervisors. The University receives reports that include only the numbers of people who use the benefit. Won't I feel awkward talking to a stranger about my concerns? Every effort is made to help you feel comfortable. When you come in, a receptionist will offer you tea or coffee and escort you to a waiting area. Counselors are careful to adhere to their schedules, so you won't have to wait very long. When you begin your session, the counselor will ask you a few questions, e.g., if you are married, have children, etc.. Then the counselor will ask you to discuss the situation that brought you to the EAP and will want to know what you'd like to accomplish by talking to him or her. What things do people usually talk about? So far, 42 percent of the University employees who have used the EAP have come for help with family or personal concerns; 29 percent for help with emotional/psychological problems (i.e. depression or anxiety); and 16 percent with work-related issues. The remainder have discussed substance abuse, career issues and legal/financial issues.

How many sessions am I permitted, and how much does it cost? The EAP is provided as a benefit at no cost to employees, and you may have up to six sessions per problem. If you and the counselor decide that you need a different kind of service than the EAP provides (perhaps longer-term counseling or medication), the counselor will help you find additional assistance. Also, if you resolve one problem with help from the EAP, and something else begins to bother you, you can come back. How do I make an appointment? Call 647-3EAP (647-3327) or 1-800-647-3EAP. The receptionist will schedule you at a convenient time — early morning before work, at lunchtime, in the evening, or anytime between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Regional campuses also have EAP offices; for those telephone numbers, call the above toll-free number.

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