To EAP or not EAP ...
That is the question often asked by people starting out in Private Practice.
last updated: 25/03/2022
Employee Assistance Programmes (or EAPs) are organisations that provide services for employees of specific companies. They can provide a range of services from discounts and special offers to medical and well-being services, such as counselling.
One way of building a client list is by signing up to work with these organisations. This can be an effective, low-cost way of adding to or building a private practice. In this post, I offer some thoughts about this.
Third-party work can require ways of working that may or may not be a good fit for you. For example, modality, duration of the work or even the nature of the work. Exploring this in supervision is a good first step. Having a supervisor (and/or peer) who is familiar with 3rd party organisations/associate models can be a real advantage here.
I have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of EAP work below. But it’s worth noting that some organisations/models offer more than others . What may be considered an advantage for some, could be unhelpful for others, hence some aspects appearing on both lists. It is important to be ethically comfortable with how you are required to work before committing to any EAP work.
A key consideration when working with EAP providers is managing the relationship with them. Some might require ways of working that are outside your usual way of working, for example waiting a considerable time for payment. Being able to meet their expectations, being responsive to their communication and maintaining a good working alliance with them, alongside balancing client needs and self-care, can, for some, be challenging. That said, with some flexibility, appropriate boundaries and sound administration both clients and therapists can benefit from these services.
There are many EAPs available and each have their own requirements and ways of working. Some providers require a DBS, some (but not all) require accreditation. Some EAP providers are seeking online therapists, some in-person work, and others are looking for both.
The application process and details of each EAP can be found
on their website or by you can contact them by email. As a minimum, they usually require an up to date CV, details of your Professional Body Membership and a copy of your public liability insurance. Session rates can range from as low as £18 (yes really!) to over £70. An average is around £40 per session.
Advantages Of EAP Work
• Some organisations offer wonderful, meaningful support to clients, and as a therapist, this is something that can be good to be part of
• Regular source of work & income
• Offers counselling to some clients who might not have accessed it otherwise
• Other opportunities available with the organisation for example running groups, giving talks etc
• Low-cost client acquisition – No or low-cost marketing required.
• Some assessments having been carried out prior to 1st session
• Access to additional support for client/therapist
• Availability and use of measurement tools
• Some administration done for you
• Possibly perceived increased credibility
Disadvantages & Challenges Of EAP Work
• My number one challenge with these models / organisations is that it can be exploitive of client / therapists … and this, for me, is not ok. In my opinion, when profit comes before care, it often fails to deliver.
• Number of sessions predefined
• Some require accreditation, DBS check and other requirements
• Requirements of the funder in terms of how / where you work, for example, some demand you have a dedicated therapy space away from your home.
• Reporting requirements
• Invoice working, you may have to wait sometime to be paid
• Modalities / nature of the work might not suite you / client
• Manging all the parties in the work (tripartite relationships – Therapist / Client / EAP)
• Can be increased administration work
• Payment might be lower than acceptable to you
• Risk levels of clients / complexity of clients
• Lack of additional support for client / therapists
• Managing confidentiality, autonomy and GDRP, with a third party involved
• The need to use measurement tools
• Reduced client autonomy in using your services
• Some counsellors have felt pressured to take clients or do more by providers. Practitioner self-care can become compromised
It’s important to remember that with good supervision, support, and a little work, many of the challenges above can be met.
If EAP work is something that you are considering It might be worth investigating one or two EAPS and giving it a go.
If you feel EAP work is not for you, there are other sources of referrals that could be considered. Such as peers / colleague referrals, associate models, insurance companies as well as third sector and other organisations.