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Employee Assistance Programs, 3rd Ed.

Employee Assistance Programs (3rd ed.)

Emener, W., Hutchison, J. R., & Richard, M. Charles C. Thomas Publisher, LTD 2003, 322 pp., $78.95 hardback; $58.95 paperback

Employee Assistance Programs is the third edition of the text Emener, Hutchison, and Richard developed to share the intricacies of employee assistance programs (EAPs) with counseling professionals. EAPs are specialized service delivery systems developed to meet the needs of impaired employees and employers in our industrial society. This book may be a useful resource for professionals aspiring to work in EAPs as well as for current EAP professionals. Aspiring professionals will get a comprehensive overview of EAPs and current professionals will likely benefit from the section describing contemporary challenges of EAPs.

The authors divided this book into eight parts (each part consisted of several chapters) that are integral ingredients to understanding EAPs. These parts summarize EAP history and philosophy, structure, client characteristics, program planning, professional training, special issues, selected examples, and future directions. Upon review it appears that these eight parts could be succinctly described in two sections: historical development (parts 1-5) and contemporary issues (parts 6-8).

The historical development section consists almost entirely of reprints from a previous edition of this book and collectively gives readers an understanding of the underlying philosophy and historical structure of EAPs. Central points are highlighted in this review. Historically, alcohol abuse in the employment setting that lowered worker productivity was the reason EAPs were developed. The negative impact on productivity stimulated companies to invest in EAP development as a means to enhance workers' productivity and collective productivity of the entire business organization. In addition, EAP services expanded to more broadly assess and treat life concerns that negatively impacted work performance such as relationship difficulties, financial strain, and mental illness. According to Emener et al., the identification of broader employee needs resulted in the ongoing development of broader service delivery systems. EAP providers must assess and treat the multiplicity of problems workers may experience for these providers to increase worker productivity and positively impact the organizations' bottom line (and justify their existence). Lastly, these first five parts emphasize the need for professional training and development of EAP professionals. EAP professionals must be prepared to actively manage service delivery systems. Furthermore, these professionals must communicate simultaneously with employees, employers, and human resource professionals, as well as with human service providers who collaboratively subcontract to serve impaired employees.

Contemporary issues (parts 6-8) provides practicing EAP professionals with information that likely will stimulate professional development to better refine service delivery within EAPs. Of particular interest are contemporary workplace concerns that may impair worker productivity and overall performance. Several workplace concerns (e.g., critical incident stress, diversity, and inappropriate computer usage) merit mention in this review. Recently, workers experiencing a critical incident at work, which the authors describe as an "...actual event that has the potential to bring about a crisis response" (p. 217), has received notable attention. Emener et al. suggest that in response to such a critical incident, survivors may manifest Acute Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The authors cite contemporary occurrences such as September 11, 2001, and the Columbine massacre as events where EAP professionals may have provided services to hinder the development of disabling responses for the survivors. Professional exposure to such critical incidents assisted these authors in succinctly addressing this specialized area of practice.

Workforce diversity is another reality in the increasingly multicultural world of work. Employee criticisms of diversity training include accusations of unfair treatment of workers by culturally different supervisors/managers, as well as mandatory short-term (e.g., one 8 hour day) trainings on diversity, and the presupposition that only White males could benefit from this training. A truly diverse and productive workforce requires that everyone undergo diversity training, gain an honest awareness of his/her biases, and collectively strive to embrace all differences (assets and liabilities) for the mutual benefit of the organization. These authors collectively have decades of experience providing EAP services and training human service professionals regarding EAPs. Lastly, computer integration throughout the business world is a reality that EAP professionals must accept. This integration affords employees opportunities to decrease individual productivity through web surfing, answering personal email, chatting online, internet addiction, etc., that force EAP professionals to develop ways to address how these behaviors may decrease productivity. However, due to this computer integration EAP professionals have another tool that may facilitate working with impaired employees. Things such as initial contacts, online assessments, and treatment group conferencing may streamline collaboration among clients, EAP professionals, and consulting professionals resulting in more timely service delivery ultimately benefiting the client (impaired employee). Overall, Employee Assistance Programs focuses on timely concerns for aspiring and practicing EAP professionals. I believe this text to be a good fit for an EAP course, a nice supplement for an introduction to rehabilitation course, and the contemporary issues portion may serve as stimulating continuing education. If rehabilitation or counseling professionals have an interest in EAPs, then they will likely benefit from reading this book.

Thomas D. Upton, Ph.D., CRC

Assistant Professor in Rehabilitation Counselor


Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL
COPYRIGHT 2004 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Upton, Thomas D.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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