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Unique and different from mental health.

I greatly appreciated John Maynard's comments in the first quarter issue of the Journal of Employee Assistance ("Being a Therapist is Not Enough"). I fully share his concern about the limited skill sets and understanding of employee assistance by the majority of practitioners delivering EAP services in the United States. I want to add two concerns pertaining to this problem:

(1) Behavioral health companies often sell EAPs by stating the number of EA professionals they say they have and then conducting a geographic match of these professionals to the employee population that will receive services. This promotes the idea that "more is better." I've seen numerous EAP contracts awarded based upon "network coverage" (as well as price), which provides an incentive for behavioral health care companies to perpetuate the use of their treatment provider network as their EAP professional network (e.g., "We have 12,000 EA professionals in our network," though there are less than hall that number of CEAPs in the United States). The purchaser often does not understand, or even care about, this differentiation. The exceptions to this common practice, in my experience, have been the regional and smaller EAP-only organizations, both external and internal, which do not offer managed care and which use, train, and collaborate with a small group of external EA professionals in order to provide their services.

(2) The benefits community perpetuates this distorted model of EA practice and views EAPs as a healthcare benefit. They "spreadsheet" EAP organizations and make recommendations for selection based upon these narrow, non-EAP criteria. In reality, they collaborate with the large behavioral healthcare companies to ensure that this perception of EAPs persists because it is in both groups' vested interests to do so.

I'm sure John is aware of these realities, but only when they are directly spoken about and shared with all concerned can they be addressed so that employee assistance can be seen as unique and different from the practice of mental health.

Mark Cohen, D.S.W., CEAP

Harris, Rothenberg Intl.

New York, N.Y.

(212) 422-8847
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Cohen, Mark
Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Previous Article:The common denominator in our efforts.
Next Article:Correction.

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