Employee Assistance Program (EAP): what is it and how does it work?

You may be surprised to learn that you may have access to a wide range of services—such as personal, financial, and legal guidance—through your benefits at work. Like other benefits you can use today that come with insurance protection for tomorrow, you may have access to an EAP—a benefits program to support your holistic health and well-being—just by participating in one of your employer-sponsored insurance products.

What kind of services do EAPs offer?

Your EAP may offer a range of services including financial planning, work/life support (e.g., helping you find an apartment), legal advice, and personal counseling—all on a completely confidential basis. These services may be valuable in helping you reach your goals, in better facing life’s challenges, or simply in making your life a little easier.

Financial advice and planning

Whether you’re a seasoned investor or new to the world of personal finance, you can likely benefit from speaking with a financial professional. Your EAP may provide some access to a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or other financial expert who can help you plan for longer-term financial goals or address any financial challenges that may arise. Whether your goal is to reduce debt, save for college or retirement, create a budget, or get answers to a tax question, working with a financial professional can help move your finances in the right direction.

Legal guidance

There are many situations where legal elements may appear in our lives—for example, a joyous occasion like adoption or a tricky situation with a landlord—and we can benefit from the legal guidance of an attorney who can listen to our situation, determine next steps, and support us through the whole process. Many EAPs offer a telephone consultation with an attorney at no cost to you, and if you decide to use his or her services you may receive a discount on his or her rate. The advice of an attorney may help make a complicated situation seem easier to manage.

Personal counseling

Life is complex, and sometimes it can be beneficial to have a professional to talk with about the challenges that life presents. A common feature of an EAP is a fixed number of sessions, either in person or over the phone, with a psychologist or trained counselor for you and possibly for others in your immediate family. Since access through your EAP may mean you avoid some sessions with an outside counselor, you may have the extra benefit of avoiding copays and saving up the counseling sessions that may be offered by your health insurance plan. Spending time with a counselor may help you to get through your challenge faster and get you back to feeling like yourself again.

Work/life support

With the demands of work, you may be left wondering how to find the time to address personal responsibilities. If your EAP includes work/life support services, it can help you complete personal tasks by providing you with valuable information on topics like finding an apartment, assessing your elder care needs, finding a daycare provider, assessing the factors of a big consumer purchase, and more. The support of these services can help to take some weight off of your shoulders.

Explore your benefits at work to see if you can take advantage of some of the services an EAP offers.

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SLPC 26338 01/15 (exp. 01/17)

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