Best Practice for the Individual Client

By Beidel, Bernard E.; Brennan, Kristine N. | The Journal of Employee Assistance, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Best Practice for the Individual Client


Beidel, Bernard E., Brennan, Kristine N., The Journal of Employee Assistance


In his "View From Here" column arguing the importance of the EAP Core Technology in serving the organizational client, John Maynard opened with a rhetorical question: "Isn't it amazing how we keep rediscovering truths we once knew?" When we examine EA services to the individual client, that question seems more relevant than we might first appreciate

John's question (see the 4th quarter 2003 issue for the full column) hearkens back to 1980, when Jim Wrich, writing the first major revision to his classic book The Employee Assistance Program--A Primer, began his critical chapter on the elements of an EAP with the following:

"Three major activities are essential to the resolution of any human problem: accurate assessment of the nature and severity of the problem, appropriate treatment, and a continuing recovery plan with regularly scheduled follow-up."

Since the publication of that statement, we have witnessed the continuing evolution of our profession throughout the world and the corresponding expansion of the parameters of EA practice. Some of these developments led to EAPA's decision in 1998 to publish a matrix showing the many service components that are ancillary to the EAP Core Technology (see accompanying chart). As this matrix illustrates, many EAPs and EA providers now offer drug-free workplace, substance abuse professional (SAP), organizational development, work/life, and critical incident stress management services as well as other programs designed to meet workplace needs While the matrix may not be all-inclusive, it offers a useful framework for looking at the interrelationship of the EAP Core Technology and the myriad other services provided by EAPs throughout the world.

Notwithstanding the growing popularity of these ancillary services, Jim Wrich's statement still rings true and comprises the heart of employee assistance "best practice" to the individual client Accurate assessment followed by appropriate treatment and/or counseling and an ongoing plan of regular follow-up serve as the core of any viable service to the individual employee, union member, supervisor, or family member. The best assessment, as we well know, begins with the EA professional's handling of the initial phone call to, or contact with, the EAP.

CONDUCTING A CURRENT ASSESSMENT

The importance of a comprehensive assessment in providing quality EA service to the individual is as critical today as it was in the early days of our profession. The 1999 edition of the EAPA Standards and Professional Guidelines for Employee Assistance Programs enumerates the following "basic elements" of a comprehensive assessment:

* Client statement of presenting problems;

* Level of risk to self and others;

* Any precipitating events;

* Impact on job performance;

* Past history of the issue;

* Alcohol and drug use/abuse history;

* Mental status;

* Corroborating data;

* Relevant history; and

* Initial impressions.

Many of these elements have been part of our professional practice for some time. To make best use of these elements, however, we must incorporate the latest developments and evidence-based practices into the assessment process to ensure it is not only comprehensive but also current. …

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