R.A.D.A.R.: A Five-Session Approach for Referrals of Employee Assistance Programs

Article excerpt

This paper outlines a five-session approach based on rational-emotive therapy for clients referred through an Employee Assistance Program. Fundamental to the approach are the four operations of the human condition-sensing, feeling, thinking, behaving-and the concept of preferential or specialized therapy. Each session is described in terms of the four processes, the procedures involved, and the desired outcomes. A case study is included in order to demonstrate the methods employed. The assumptions and limitations of the approach are also examined.


The popularity of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) has grown rapidly in the past decade as private, public, and government institutions have become aware of the benefits derived from such programs. Luthans and Waldersee (1989) estimate that, "there are over 10,000 EAPs in place and about three-fourths of America's 500 largest firms have these types of programs" (p. 386).

Historically, occupational alcohol programs (OAPs) and employee rehabilitation programs (ERPs) focused on rehabilitation (Trice, 1984), while the essential component of today's programs is prevention (Beale, 1984). Although the focus has shifted from rehabilitation to prevention, the problems associated with cost, benefits, "down time," and, especially, the duration of treatment, are still major issues for managing committees of employee assistance programs.

The literature is replete with treatment modalities that attempt to meet the concerns of managing committees. Effective therapeutic approaches found within the corporate milieu include relaxation training (Chesney, 1987), role-play (Elman, 1984), stress inoculation (Meichenbaum, 1985), art therapy (Smart, 1986), systems therapy (Whalen, 1988), and reality therapy (Bruce, 1986). These interventions are used to treat domestic violence (Schumacher, 1985), employee burnout (Glicken, 1983), drug and alcohol abuse (Shahandeh, 1985), absenteeism (Hill, 1984), family problems (Bowen, 1988), and hypertension (Agras, 1987).

The purpose of this paper is twofold: (1) to describe a five-session therapy approach for clients referred through an employee assistance program, and (2) to present a case study utilizing the proposed strategy. The intent of the paper is to present a model that meets the time constraints imposed by many EAPs.


Rational-emotive therapy (RET), developed by Ellis (1962,1971,1985,1988), is well documented. Basically, RET contends that human upsetness results from irrational and illogical thinking. It is the individual's perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions about events, things, situations, and others, and not the events themselves, that lead to emotional disturbance. The individual thinks in absolutistic terms and this, in turn, leads to demandingness, low frustration tolerance, awfulizing, and self-downing. The role of the therapist is to help the individual replace self-defeating thoughts with rational thinking, leading to psychological health.

RET has been shown to be effective in dealing with clients of employee assistance programs. For instance, Woods (1987), in a study of corporate employees, found that a rational-emotive approach significantly reduced Type A behavior, anxiety, anger, and physical illness. Spillane (1982) reported the effectiveness of RET for developing managerial talent, while Higgins (1986) used this model for decreasing the occupational stress levels in working women. Moreover, Klarreich (1987) presented data, from an in-house study, demonstrating that RET was cost effective and saved the corporation at least $2.74 for each dollar spent.

Central to the five-session approach is Ellis' view of the human condition, defined early in his writings in terms of the "four fundamental life operations- sensing, moving, emoting, and thinking" (1962, p. 39). The four operations do not function in isolation; rather, they operate together. …