Magazine article The Journal of Employee Assistance

Soaring on the Winds of Change: Recap of 2016 World EAP Conference

Magazine article The Journal of Employee Assistance

Soaring on the Winds of Change: Recap of 2016 World EAP Conference

Article excerpt

Journal of Employee Assistance editor Mike Jacquart attended "EAP Innovation: Soaring on the Winds of Change," EAPA's 2016 World EAP Conference," held October 31--November 3 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. In this article he shares key findings from this important gathering. EAPA's Conference on Demand is also available for anyone interested in downloading conference breakout sessions from either the 2015 or 2016 conferences. Full information is available at

DAY ONE--The annual Chapter and Branch and Leader Development session was expanded this year. Run by the EAPA Board of Directors, the session featured "Leading a Volunteer Organization" by Steve Smith with Rosecrance Health Network. Finding enough volunteers can be a real challenge for any organization, Smith said. "You need job descriptions to find out where they fit. You need a consistent way of training, which creates greater buy-in, what do YOU want to do?" Smith noted. Success stories from EAPA Chapter and Branch Leaders, and award presentations, were other highlights.

Day One concluded with the always popular EAPA Expo Grand Opening Reception (formerly known as the EAPA Marketplace Reception). Some of the many vendors included: Center for Discovery, Cigna, Harting EAP (Daybreak EAP Software), and National Association to Area Agencies on Aging. Held on Halloween, the festivities included plenty of candy and costumed attendees, including a Cat in the Hat, various ghouls, and even a Ghostbuster or two.

DAY TWO--The opening keynote, "Moving from Victim to Victor through the Power of Forgiveness" was led by Lyndon Fitzgerald Harris, co-director with Tigg's Pond Retreat Center. Lyndon presented groundbreaking ideas from the new science of forgiveness. "We need to create a culture of forgiveness in the workplace," he stated.

Sessions that JEA editor Mike Jacquart attended included:

High Stakes Fitness for Duty Evaluations: When Concerns of Violence Arise was led by George Vergolias, Psy.D., Associate Medical Director with R3 Continuum. Among other areas, participants learned the differences between affective and predatory violence, and how to determine when to refer for Fitness for Duty versus Threat of Violence evaluations. "Clinical judgment is often only 50%, we have to consider other factors," he said. "Can we mitigate risk? We can't predict, but we can manage risk factors."

Bev Younger, Ph.D., LCSW, Clinical Associate Professor with the University of Southern California School of Social Work, presented Rapidly Diversifying EAPs: Strategizing for the Future. This session addressed the continuing diversification of internal and external EAPs, and offered strategies for adapting to accelerating change. "From factories to labor policies; like the ADA, FMLA and others, to broad brush EAPs, managed care, digital delivery, and the Affordable Care Act, EAPs have always needed to adapt to employee needs," she explained. "Is diversity a loss of Core Technology or a necessary adaptation?" questioned Younger.

DAY THREE--Wednesday's keynote address was quite different from the norm. The address included short, engaging EAP Talks (think TED Talks) about current EA topics from Jeff Harris, MFT, CEAP, Program Manager, EAP & WorkLife Services, University of Southern California; Marina London, Web Services, EAPA; Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., President & CEO, Carson J Spencer Foundation; and Mark Attridge, Ph.D., President, Attridge Consulting.

Harris spoke on how EAP practitioners can build credibility as consultants. "Make it your business to know their business, including microcultures," he explained. "Trust is everything. Deliver consistent, good results and don't challenge a manager in front of a team. Get periodic feedback, and follow up."

London posed the question, "Is EAP 'Tech Proof?"' It dawned on her that certain things in Vegas (scantily clad women, slot machines, circus shows, and magic acts) remianed unchanged even though she hadn't been there in decades. …

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