Advocacy is Key.
Since entering the Employee Assistance profession in 2014, I have noticed an increased effort by EAPA to bring attention to issues that seemingly went unacknowledged for decades. For this reason, I believe our profession's success will depend on our willingness to be active advocates for EAPs as we adjust to changing demographics and an evolving economy.
Being an active advocate means unwavering support for the efficacy of our respective programs to the companies, organizations, governments, and unions that benefit from our services. It also means asking difficult questions. Does our professional membership reflect the diverse populations we serve? Do we have an ethical obligation to diversify our membership? Do external EAP vendors hurt the profession? These questions need to be discussed through constructive dialogue, and we should expect disagreement.
Active advocacy doesn't stop after difficult questions have been raised. There must be action as well. Fortunately, our profession has opportunities to get involved. We can look at the recent accomplishments of EAPA's Next Generation Taskforce. Since 2016, the taskforce has brought together professionals from Canada and the United States.
One of the major accomplishments of the taskforce was creating a foundation in which to recruit and train the next generation of EA professionals. Additional accomplishments include filming promotional videos and submitting various internship and website recommendations to be considered for future development.
At the local level, the Northern Illinois Employee Assistance Professionals Association recently provided a free event for students and current professionals to attend a moderated presentation and panel discussion to learn about the Employee Assistance profession.
But not every employee is given the chance to get involved in EAPA. For managers with early career professionals, it is crucial to the future success of the profession to allow employees to join committees and attend local chapter meetings and events. It's vital to encourage employees to become active advocates. I believe, in so doing, we will create the conditions necessary for the EA profession to succeed well into the future.
--Mike Laird, LCSW, CEAP