It’s been my experience that many people view cost as a barrier to getting therapy. They might have a high deductible insurance plan or no insurance at all and have been putting off contacting a counselor because they fear they will have a big bill to pay at the end of the month. Many people are aware of their employer offering them medical, vision, and/or dental insurance, but often are not aware of another benefit offered by many employers called an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). By using your EAP benefits you can receive therapy at no cost to you!
An Employee Assistance Program is a benefit separate from the insurance that your employee pays to be able to offer benefits to employees. The EAP program can offer employees resources such as financial planners, child care, legal services and (you guessed it!) counseling services. These counseling sessions are paid for by your employer and are at no cost to you. Many employees have plans that offer between 3-6 counseling sessions but in my experience, I have seen plans that offer up to 10 sessions. EAP counseling sessions are considered to be “short-term” counseling and if you want to seek counseling beyond the number of sessions for which you are approved, you would have to use your insurance benefits or pay out of pocket.
You would access these therapy services by calling your EAP company and speaking to an EAP staff (usually a therapist) about why you are seeking counseling services and any preferences you would have in a counselor such as location, specialties or available times. If the EAP staff feels like your situation is appropriate for EAP sessions, he or she would would then either give you a list of therapists to call and set up an appointment or would set up an appointment with a therapist for you and give you the therapist’s information. It’s that simple.
Many people assume the word “employee” in EAP means that your employer will know if use your EAP benefits and that is not the case at all. With the exception of being told you are required to attend counseling sessions by your employer, your employer will not know if you are attending therapy or not. In the case that your employer requires you to utilize your benefits, the therapist that is providing the EAP services still cannot speak to your employer without your consent and the EAP staff will usually be the go-between between the therapist and your employer.
How do you find out if your employer offers EAP benefits? Contact your Human Resources department and ask how you would go about contacting your EAP. You do not have to inform your HR department you are wanting to seek counseling, because, like I said previously, EAP programs offer many services. Many people are told about these benefits when they have their employer orientation or sign up for their insurance benefits and then often forget they even have them! Why not take advantage of a few counseling sessions at no cost to you if you are able?
Please note: Although I am an EAP provider/affiliate for many EAP companies, this blog post does not reflect any one company in particular and is based solely on my understanding of the EAP referral process.