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The true client.

The article by Sue Tignor, Richard Hoernemann, and Linda Lindsey on EAPs and substance abuse professional services (3rd quarter 2005) was outstanding for many reasons. I wish, however, the authors would have gone into more depth on the "ethical dilemma" many employee assistance professionals perceive in handling SAP cases that involve employees who work for their EAP corporate clients.

These EA professionals see a conflict of interest in the sense that the SAP may lose objectivity when assessing an employee who works for a corporate EAP client. That's because the corporate client may have a strong desire to return the employee to duty sooner than may be warranted based on the level/severity of the employee's substance problem.

I work in an external EAP and have handled more than 100 SAP cases since 2001. Some of these cases have involved employees of our corporate EAP clients. I have no problem taking these cases because I understand, as the article states, that my function is "to protect the public interest in safety by professionally evaluating the employee and recommending appropriate education/treatment, follow-up tests, and aftercare."

I clearly explain the above quotation to the designated employer representative (DER), whether or not he/she is an EAP client. Ultimately, the public safety becomes the true client, and understanding and acting on this notion avoids any "ethical dilemma" in handling SAP cases of this nature.

Gerry Ahlers, LCSW,, CEAP, SAP

Director of Behavioral Health and Occupational Services

TriCity Services

Geneva, Illinois

(630) 232-1070
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Ahlers, Gerry
Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Previous Article:Bringing out the best.
Next Article:Conflict management and the Core Technology: a troubled employee often is symptomatic of issues affecting several workers or even entire work groups....

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