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How to Become an EAP Advisor

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EAP stands for Employee Assistance Programs. These are sets and packages of benefits that are offered by companies to their employees, in addition to the more common medical and dental plans. EAPs are designed to help employees cope with various types of personal problems that could affect their careers adversely. The mechanisms offered usually include assessment for the problem, short�term counseling, and referrals. Some of the problems that EAPs are made to help with are substance abuse, emotional distress, marital problems, major life events, safe working environment, and work relationships. These benefit packages are becoming more and more popular among employers and employees alike, so specialists are required to manage and administer these services.

EAP Advisors are those whose task it is to make EAPs into realities. They often deal with other people, as evidenced by their close relation with Human Resources workers and with the employees themselves. The assessment of employment problems and provision of support require a very human touch, and so EAP Advisors will find themselves looking into the human psyche often. EAP Advisors are becoming gradually more in-demand as the needs for their knowledge and skills increases. There are a few things that one has to do in order to become a right and proper EAP Advisor.

EAP and Education

To become an EAP Advisor, the right education is needed. Since this is dealing with members of the workforce in the workplace, degrees in human resources or similar fields are required. These related fields are psychology, social work, sociology, and liberal arts. These are all fields of study that place emphasis on understanding people and helping them, and provide strong foundations for the execution of their jobs in EAP. These majors will prepare the prospective advisor to talk with people to elicit information, identify current and potential problems, as well as analyze personality traits to identify risk factors. Higher educational degrees in social work may prove of use when rendering assistance to employees who require special attention.

If the prospective advisor is a degree-holder in Human Resources, they should consider taking enough units in psychology to earn a minor degree. Knowledge of psychology will provide more tools to advise employees and help identify what would be good benefits for the employing company to offer.

Getting a license to practice EAP capacities is not required in many states across the United States of America; however psychological practice licenses like the Knox-Keene license may be required when performing counseling services. As it is, the prospective advisor needs to know the requirements in his or her planned location of practice.

EAP and Social Relations

Employee Assistance Programs are very much built to match the needs of people in the company's employ, so the need for understanding of the human mind and social relations are vital. Even more vital than this knowledge is its application, to improve the EAP Advisor's profile in the company, this in turn makes the job easier and more effective. When dealing with humans, one often needs to be humane.

Upon starting work as an EAP Advisor or during probationary periods, it is important to build exceptional rapport with the members of the Human Resources department in the company. EAP Advisors need to communicate and work with HR personnel to maximize the efficacy of their programs. HR personnel will have employee information on file, as well as having records of work behavior which can be useful in identifying problems to deal with and benefits to offer.

Accessibility is key to the performance of this career. Make it easy for the employees you are helping to come to you. Many people will prefer to keep their problems to themselves, so encouraging them and employing subtle features to make the office more conducive will make them more comfortable and more likely to discuss their issues. Appearances of dedication to helping and trustworthiness are critical. The first step is the hardest, as it is said, and by helping employees to take the first step, one starts them off on the path of healing.

Knowing one's work community and actively participating in it will be fundamental to this career. Educating others about the problems that EAPs are meant to help with will raise consciousness among the employees and increase the favorable opinion of the EAP Advisor.

The knowledge of benefits and benefit packages offered will equip the EAP Advisor to present and counsel employers on which to offer. Additionally, if these benefits may require referrals to external sources, then information on such service providers such as proximity, cost, and capacity will be useful. Employment problems may require external help, so these specifics will help convince company heads to offer the associated benefits.

Finally, joining an association of professionals will make one part of one's professional circle. As an example, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association is the oldest and most respected of the professionals' groups in EAP services. Joining them or any other such association will allow you to network with fellow practitioners, in turn granting you access to information and services, higher professional profile, and associates.

Note that as an EAP advisor, one is not authorized to provide counseling on more than a short-term basis. These services are left to licensed social workers and doctors.
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