Phillip Crum: It’s time for another edition of It’s Just Coffee –
Kathleen Mills: It is just coffee.
PC: - with Kathleen Mills. That’s her right over there. Her weekly podcast to LPC interns and other such folk who are interested in learning more about running their business – excuse me – running their practice as a business.
KM: And being an entrepreneur.
PC: Yeah, and realize there is a business side to a counseling practice. So, how you doing, Kathleen?
KM: I’m awesome.
PC: Well, good. I know you’re very awesome because you have lined up Marina London for today.
KM: Yes, I have.
PC: I’m very impressed.
KM: You are?
PC: Marina’s on the east coast somewhere.
KM: I think she’s in New York. Are you, Marina?
PC: New York?
Marina London: New York City.
KM: New York City!
PC: Get a rope. Okay, it’s on TV.
KM: I know it.
PC: Okay, tell me about Marina London and let’s maybe – hey, here’s an idea: let’s let her talk.
KM: Yes. Marina – tell our listeners your- give everybody a run down of who you are and your bio and all that.
ML: Okay. I’m a licensed clinical social worker and I have a credential called the Certified Employee Assistance Professional. I started off as an ER social worker, a psychiatric social worker, and then I entered the world of EAP as a Director of Clinical Services, a Director of Account Management, and finally a VP of Operations. In 2005, I was hired by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association to be their web editor. And so my job is to keep our website as up-to-date as possible on everything that’s going on in the world of employee assistance.
PC: What a cool job.
ML: It is.
KM: It is a cool job and the website is awesome. Can you tell the listeners what that website is right now, so if somebody is listening they can go on it while we’re talking?
ML: Sure. It’s EAPASSN.org.
KM: Gotcha. And so you are the responsible party for putting that whole thing together and making it move and you shift around articles and you’re always constantly posting relevant subjects to the world of the employee assistance program professionals and other things.
KM: Gotcha. And I also have this, you know, you’re a Yale University and a Columbia University grad. Am I right on that?
ML: That’s true.
PC: You went to Columbia?
PC: I didn’t.
PC: No, but did you have any classes with Barack Obama?
ML: No, because the School of Social Work at Columbia is actually a separate building located a number of blocks away from the main campus.
KM: Gotcha. Okay, so it’s spread out a little bit.
PC: They actually require their students to show up – never mind. Let’s -
KM: Social workers are diligent on doing their stuff. But I just want to kind of go through, walk through, with you, Marina, like what is an EAP? What is it?
ML: Well an EAP is a corporate-based program that serves organizations and the employees of the organization in a variety of ways. Employee assistance programs provide consultation, training typically on wellness-related topics, individual assistance and counseling to employees and their family members experiencing personal difficulties. And these personal difficulties can range from issues with substance abuse to depression and anxiety to family difficulties – pretty much the broad range of issues that can cause people problems.
KM: So these are companies that have designed their product is delivering this bulk of service to let’s say, give me an example. Like the Geicos of the world, or large businesses and small businesses?
ML: It’s businesses from ma and pop shops all the way to the largest corporations in America. Typically they hire an external employee assistance provider to provide these services. And from the perspective of the employee, they get a toll-free 800 number that they can call into 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And depending on their issue, they are connected directly to at least a masters-degreed, licensed clinician who will then start to provide help for them. The help may start off being telephonic, usually moves to a face-to-face meeting. And the EAP gives anywhere from one to up to six sessions to help the individual solve that issue. If the individual cannot get the help they need in a short-term counseling format, the employee assistance counselor then refers them on for ongoing therapy.
KM: You know, we did a podcast interview with one of these EAP companies called Empathia a couple weeks ago. And what is really important for people to know, that even mom and pop shops – the very small entrepreneurs of the earth – can partake in this product. It’s not just the bigger businesses that maybe you and I would usually think of. So I think that’s really important for people to really hone in on, is small companies can take advantage of this wonderful product.
ML: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more. A lot of smaller organizations think that they can’t afford to buy an employee assistance program for their employees, when in fact it’s extremely affordable.
KM: And just to kind of hone in on another thing, too. This is not a health-insurance replacement. It’s more of an added benefit that coordinates with whatever health insurance the company may or may not...
PC: So how does that work?
KM: Yeah – how does that work?
ML: So basically it’s a completely separate entity. It’s not covered by the employee’s health insurance. It is a free service to the employee. The employee is never charged a penny for using the employee assistance program. And it goes next to the insurance-covered counseling benefit when the employee needs more than what the EAP can provide for free, then the EAP counselor may refer that employee to someone who’s covered under their benefits.
KM: Talk about...
ML: But we’re offering much more than just counseling. We offer smoking cessation programs, wellness programs – how to deal with your difficult teenager – there’s a whole host of programs that are offered by the EAP. And do not fall under the health care benefits.
KM: Right. Talk about – and I think you just kind of said it already – but talk about both feet. What is the upside to the employee utilizing the EAP that is separate from the health insurance? And are there downsides to the employee utilizing this separate EAP product?
ML: Well, the most compelling upside to the employee is let’s say it’s Christmas Day, it’s two o’clock in the morning and you’ve just had a huge fight with your wife. You can call the EAP. There’s always somebody there. You can’t access care as quickly in a benefit-covered universe than you can by the EAP. I mean, if you want to talk to somebody at any time of the day or night, on the weekend, during a holiday – the EAP is there for you. And when you call, you’re always linked to a professional. You’re not talking to the secretary in some doctor’s office. You are talking to a master’s-level clinician who’s trained to help people who are in crisis.
KM: I think that’s a big piece of what people don’t realize about that, that the EAP is 24/7 and you’re talking to license clinicians who can really help you through the exact scenario that you just described.
ML: And, by the way, you don’t have to be in crisis to call the EAP because the EAP can also help you, typically there’s a child care and an elder care component. So if you’re looking for summer camp for your child or you’re looking for an assisted living facility for your elderly parents, the EAP can help with that as well.
KM: I do a lot of presentation for EAP companies because they’ve got companies here in Dallas and they need for me to do the benefit part of the EAP for their employees. And when I say the childcare and the elder care, they give me these funny looks. Can you talk more about like, “Child care? How can you help me with child care?” Can you talk about that a little bit?
ML: The EAPs hire specialized counselors or specialized companies but it’s part of the EAP. To answer these questions, they may need a babysitter, they may need in-home daycare, they may need a camp during the summer for a child with special needs – and this is part of the expertise that EAP has and they can guide the employee towards finding those kinds of resources. And similarly on the elder care side of things, when employees need help finding a resource for their elderly parents, they get incredible support and resources to connect them to whatever level of care their elderly relative needs – whether it’s some kind of help in the home, an assisted living facility, or even a skilled nursing home.
KM: So I’m going to segue from the employee, now what’s the value for the employer? When you offer all of that?
ML: The value for the employer is that for every dollar invested in the EAP, there’s a huge return on investment in terms of employees being more productive, employees being more present when they’re on the job. The EAP allows the employee to focus on their personal problems with the EAP and focus in the workplace on what they need to do.
PC: Is that supported with empirical data, or is that just the marketing department talking?
ML: Ah that’s an excellent question. EAPA maintains a massive annotated bibliography going back to the year 2000 of literally hundreds of studies supporting the fact that EAP is just one of the very best services an employer can provide in terms of return on investment and having a happier and more focused workforce.
KM: So if there’s employees out there that are listening to this particular podcast, and Marina you can maybe tell me something different, but I do encourage people to ask their HR department if they have an employee assistance program. Because I bet you they do.
ML: Yes. I mean, hopefully the HR department in conjunction with the EAP have done a really great job of reminding and training employees as to the benefits offered by the EAP. But if you’re not sure whether or not you have an EAP, you should definitely contact somebody in your human resources department and they will give you that information immediately.
KM: So I’m going to segue into one more thing before we talk to the clinicians that are listening to our podcast. Confidentiality. Employees are usually gun shy with the EAP product because somehow they think the employer is going to be knowing what they’re talking about or what the access of resources including counseling per se. Can you comment on that?
ML: Yes. Confidentiality is the absolute cornerstone of any EAP program. If the program is not confidential, nobody will use the program. Since the services are offered by clinicians who are license, they’re required to keep confidentiality as part of their license. But in addition to that, the EAP knows that when employees come in, they must keep everything completely confidential.
PC: Before we move on, I want to ask what are the downsides, if any, to the employer? Besides you got to pay for it – you’ve got to pay for everything in life – but, what are the downsides to an EAP program for an employer?
ML: Honestly, it’s hard for me to think of a downside. I mean, other than the fact that you have to spend money on this. But you get a return on investment in terms of having better employees, more productive employees, and also employees who are less likely to use their medical benefits. And every time an employee uses their medical benefits, eventually there’s a cost that goes back to the employer. Maybe the insurance company raises their rates the following year. People who come to the EAP often do not then ever have to access their benefits for whatever problem they’re going to for the EAP.
PC: So if I have an EAP program as an employer, my employees can go talk to somebody else about their problems with their wife instead of in my office.
ML: Exactly. Exactly.
PC: Is there a rule of thumb, Marina – and I realize there’s variables involves – but is there a rule of thumb for the cost of an EAPA program? That it’s X dollars a month per head?
ML: Yes. EAP programs are paid typically by the year up front. And the formula is usually some amount of dollars multiplied by the number of employees in the organization. So let’s say you have 1,000 employees, a typical fee would be anywhere from $24 to $36 per employee per year. So if you do the math for a company that has 1,000 employees, that’s between $24,000 and $36,000. Compared to what corporations pay to cover even one just employee with insurance, it’s insignificant relatively.
PC: So, as I am fond of telling my kids, life is a math question. And if you can save more money than you’re spending on an EAP program, where do I sign? Right?
ML: Yes, absolutely.
PC: That’s what it boils down to.
PC: As long as you have the money to pay for it and you’re going to save more than you’re spending in the long run.
ML: Right. It’s sort of a no-brainer. And the way we know it’s a no-brainer - and you were talking about empirically before – every major corporation in America has an employee assistance program. I mean, you can go down to fortune on thousands and virtually every company has an EAP. They got it. It makes sense.
PC: Empirically is really the only big word I know. This is actually a two-syllable word show, you know. I forgot to tell you that up front. Kathleen, what’s next?
KM: Well, Marina I want to go segue now into the clinician side of delivering EAP – you know, being an EAP provider for the EAP corporation for these employees. Can you talk about that? And I know you guys have a training.
ML: Yes. Absolutely. So, I work for EAPA, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, and our goal is to provide information and support for people who want to enter the employee assistance profession or work for an EAP. I have a lot of friends who are clinicians and one of the reasons they love to do EAP work is it fills in gaps in their private practice. And what I mean by that is, when most of your clients are long-term clients, there’s a certain pace to that. It’s kind of nice to do EAP work, which is very fast-paced. Typically EAP clients are higher functioning than the typical clients you would see in a private practice. They’re typically employed people and family members who are just having some kind of issue in their day-to-day life. And it’s a nice change of pace for a clinician to do this kind of short-term work. In addition, you can get referrals year-round. I’m sure if you’ve talked to your friends who are clinicians, they’ll tell you in August their practices kind of slow down as everybody goes on vacation. Well, you can get EAP clients referred to you year-round at a pretty steady clip. So it helps you fill gaps in your practice and keep your earnings up.
KM: Tell me about the training that you guys have recently launched. It’s a six-hour training course for clinicians who want to be, who are considering filling in the gaps in their practice. And I just want to do a side thing before you go into that, Marina. It’s been in my experience, or yeah my experience, that you don’t have to be a clinician that is on insurance panels in order to do EAP work necessarily.
ML: Correct. The panels that EAPs have are completely separate from the panel, you know you may be a provider for Oxford which is an insurance company. Being a provider for an employee assistance program – that’s a completely different list of people. So what we did at EAPA is we developed a certificate course that provides license mental health professionals with a unique opportunity to get an insider’s view for providing EAP services as an extension of their private practice. And during the six-hour one-day course, we give them tips for identifying the types of services they may want to provide for an EAP, and detailed information on how to significantly increase their EAP referrals. And even if somebody’s already on an EAP panel, in the course we really tell you- we give you insider information on how to become the sort of go-to clinician that an EAP vendor will send referrals to.
KM: So you’re actually giving a little bit about business tips for these clinicians who really want to get into the EAP market?
ML: Exactly. And the special bonus is when you complete the course, in addition to getting a certificate, you get a free, one-year listing in a database that we’ve developed of people who have passed this course that is specifically marketed to EAP network managers. So if you run an EAP network and you want to go to a clinician who understands EAP and is going to do a great job for you, you’re going to want to go to that list to find the best clinicians.
PC: Is that good, Kathleen? She used big words.
KM: Yes. This is awesome. I’m so glad you guys are doing this. Within the six-hour training – and I know you listed a few, Marina – but can you list a couple of other things that a clinician who’s thinking about doing an EAP, being an EAP vendor, what other things that clinician can also learn in terms of maybe how to deliver the EAP model if you will?
ML: Right. And we cover that in the course. We explain to providers – a lot of providers think that EAP work is just long-term therapy, but you shrink it into six sessions. And we talk about the difference between doing an EAP case and doing the kind of case that they would see in their private practices. So we’re giving them that information. We give them the similarities and the differences between working with behavioral health clients versus EAP clients.
KM: And this can sub – this can be a supplement to what they’re already doing in their practice?
ML: Exactly. It’s literally an add-on. It’s another way to get business. It’s another way to fill clinical hours. And it’s another way to get a different type of client so that you have more variety in your practice.
KM: Well, it’s diversifying your business portfolio.
PC: This is pretty cool. I thought Kathleen made all this EAPA stuff up.
KM: You know, I do love doing the EAP work. I think that’s probably my favorite to be honest with you. Because I don’t know if this is what you see, and I would be intrigued with your comments, Marina, but the thing that I love about the EAP product is I get to meet so many people. And that is on the EAP corporate side, such as you, and also the EAP clients that are coming through the door. I mean, it’s just a very relational... it’s just very relational. And it’s a great relationship partnership to have, both knowing the corporation and also these clients that are coming through and being a great educator on what the EAP product is, what it isn’t, that kind of stuff. And it helps the client get what they need out of the EAP quicker I think, but I really like the relational aspect.
ML: Yeah, I’m not surprised to hear you say that because another type of work that clinicians can do for EAP, and we talk about that in the course, is they can also be hired by the EAP to go to the company and provide various kinds of training programs. I had a friend who absolutely loved teaching stress management. And she was routinely hired by the EAPs to go to various companies and teach stress management to employees and she absolutely loved doing that.
PC: Don’t you do some of that, Kathleen?
KM: I do. As a matter of fact, I’m so glad you brought that up because I really like getting out of the office. I love my colleagues, love what I do, but it’s so fun to go corporations and just do those presentations on behalf of the EAP because you’ve got the relationship with the EAP. You understand them and what they want. It’s just a great partnership to deliver good workshop trainings to their corporate accounts.
PC: May I ask a layman’s question?
PC: If I’m a counselor, are you telling me that I’ve got to go out and sell the EAPA program?
PC: Or does it come to me?
KM: Well, the EAP corporate people call, let’s say, me and saying hey… well for instance, this Monday I’m going down to the Hyatt downtown and doing a stress PowerPoint, actually Marina, for about 250 employees. It’s just fun to do. It’s fun to meet people.
PC: Do I have to do that? I’m scared of crowds. Do I have to do that?
KM: You don’t have to do that. No. If you don’t feel comfortable, you just tell the EAP, “Listen, I’m not your guy, but maybe my colleague over here is.”
PC: See, I’m perfect for this because I’m scared of everything.
KM: You are not. You are brave. So, but I really enjoy doing the EAP product and yes, it’s very diversified within that product. It’s not all just one-on-one. It’s other things, isn’t it?
ML: Yeah, absolutely. I know people what the part of EAP work that they find interesting is coaching executives. And so they are on EAP panels and the panels know to call those particular clinicians when there’s need for executive coaching.
KM: Now, this six-hour training course – you and I have talked off the air and so I’m just going to put it on the air right now – we are tentatively scheduling for either you or someone else to come to –
PC: Time out.
PC: We’re out of time.
PC: We’ve got to wrap this up. But you know what?
PC: We’re going to finish this conversation in just a minute. And if somebody wants to hear the rest of the story, as they say, they’re going to have to text the word EAPA14 – text that to the phone number 442-333-7363. One more time: 442-333-7363. And we will send you a link to get to this private information, because if you don’t do that, you won’t be able to find the rest of this conversation. So Marina, this has been good.
KM: Marina, you’re awesome.
PC: I can’t tell you how excited Kathleen is. She’s rolling on the floor with the chair that she’s found a kindred spirit.
KM: Very kindred.
ML: It was an absolute pleasure to talk to you today.
KM: And I just wish you all the well on the wonderful things that you are continuing to doing, Marina, and I mean that sincerely.
PC: Marina – why don’t you give us your contact information? Give out what you will as far as phone number, email, a website address, etcetera. If somebody wants to get in touch with either you or the association about joining or whatever it is you offer, or would they do that?
ML: Okay, so obviously we talked about the website earlier in the interview. But people are absolutely welcome to call me. My number is 703-387-1000 and my direct extension is 350. Or they can send me an email at email@example.com. And I’m always happy to talk to people and answer their questions.
PC: Very good.
PC: Hopefully you’ll do this again with us at some point.
KM: Please do.
ML: I would love it.
PC: Kathleen, where can people find you?
KM: People can find me at Lifetreecounseling.com. They can call me at 972-234-6634 ext. 104. Or they can email me. Kathleen@lifetreecounseling.com.
PC: Good. Thank you very much.
KM: What about you, sir?
PC: Well, I’m still Phillip Crum, the content marketing coach. And you can find me at contentmarketingcoach.us or 214-624-6297 I think. I don’t call myself very often.
KM: He doesn’t even know how to work the phone, Marina.
PC: It’s 469-536-2347. There we go. And we’re going to do this again with Marina at some point in the future because she’s a good sport. And thank you very much for listening, everybody, and on we go.
PC: Now, Marina. You still there?
ML: Yes, I am.
PC: Okay. Let’s finish that conversation. Kathleen, you were saying...
KM: Well, Marina you and I were talking off the air and other conversations on the phone. I’ve really like to host and be one of the sponsors for the six-hour training course for you guys to come to Dallas and train clinicians who are really interested in the EAP product and getting some really great training on you know, how to deliver the care, how this might be beneficial to their practice with diversifying their portfolio.
PC: How to be an EAP.
KM: How to be an EAP.
ML: Yes, so the name of that training, just so people can remember, is the Employee Assistance Specialist Clinical.
KM: So it’s EAS-C.
KM: And it’s the fundamental training for license clinicians in an independent practice who are interested in adding EAP to their practices.
KM: That’s exciting. You know, here’s what I see in Dallas. I mean, in Houston it’s probably going through the same thing too, but here in Dallas we are exploding with people moving here. Corporations are moving here. And there’s probably going to be I think more EAP work being needed because of those two economic factors of corporations are moving their businesses here and subsequently people are moving to work with the company but these companies have EAP programs.
ML: I think you’re absolutely right. Any place where there’s more and more corporations coming into a location, etcetera, there’s going to be an increasing demand placed on that company’s employee assistance program, and therefore an exciting opportunity for clinicians and private practice to add EAP work to what they offer.
KM: I was going to ask you one thing and maybe this is not- well I’m just going to ask you. If a first-year clinician, you know, one-year post-masters, post-licensure I would say – they can take the training and the EAP company have some requirements on what it would take to be added to the panel.
ML: Right. Exactly. But I mean, as long as you’re licensed and you have that master’s degree, you could be on a panel for a whole host of reasons. You might not need to have ten years of experience in the field, or five years of experience in the field. EAPs are, for example, we’re always looking for bilingual clinicians, clinicians who have in-depth expertise in substance abuse, clinicians who like to work with children or adolescents, clinicians who have expertise in domestic violence prevention, and there are many areas of expertise and we talk about that in the training.
KM: I was just going to say, yeah your training is really going to come in handy with that. And also, when somebody applies to an EAP company, I think it would behoove them to note to the EAP that they’ve done the training class that we’re talking about – the six-hour training class – which you guys are going to be coming here in January. That’s-
ML: Our goal is actually for eventually the large panels of the largest EAP companies to make this training a requirement to be on the panel. That’s what we’re working towards.
KM: So this is a new thing that can really be helpful for getting new clinicians – fundamental training, having that resume if you will on their resume vitae when applying to the EAP, which can really help get them started quicker than most.
KM: I’m excited.
ML: I think you know also that there’s a local EAPA chapter -
ML: - that you attend meetings at. And they can find out information about that local chapter again off of our website.
KM: Right. It’s the Fort Worth EAPA chapter.
PC: Rattle that website off again, Marina.
ML: It’s EAPASSN.org.
PC: Let me think like a sales guy for just a minute. If I’m a counselor and my brother-in-law runs a big company somewhere and they don’t have an EAP program, but I told him about it and he wants to do something like that, can he of course become involved – you know, sign up for the EAP program – and then I become assigned to that account? Whatever terminology you all use? Or how does that work?
ML: Um. That’s an area that doesn’t quite happen like that typically, but the company let’s remember, the company’s paying for the EAP. So the company certainly is within their rights to say, “We want this provider on your panel.” So that’s what that person would do. But you also raise a good question about if you’re thinking about buying an EAP for your company, we have a really wonderful EAP buyer’s guide on our website. It’s very easy to find or people can call me and I’ll show them where it is on the website. And it gives very good and clear guidelines as to what you should look for in an EAP so that you buy a quality program.
PC: Excellent. I’ve got one last question for you and we’re done. Tell me, if you’re willing, what are you working on right now in your world that you are just passionate about?
ML: Okay, so the thing that I’m the most excited about right now is we have an annual conference. Every year it’s in a different part of the country. This year it’s at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The theme of the conference is, “Imagine” because that’s the most Disney World. And I’m doing a two-year – er, two year, no it doesn’t feel like that – a two-hour presentation on imagining the employee assistance program of the future.
ML: I’m very excited about working on that.
PC: When is that?
ML: The conference starts on September 29th and goes through October 2nd.
PC: So it’s this year.
KM: You’re going to be awesome.
PC: And you do that annually?
ML: We do that annually. The conference in 2015 is going to be in San Diego, California.
KM: Mmm. You pick the good places.
ML: We try.
KM: No, I don’t think you have to try. I think you just do that. You do that well.
PC: San Diego’s nice. Really nice.
KM: So you’re going to do all the conferences outside when you go to San Diego, right? By the beach?
ML: Oh yes you can rely on that.
KM: (Laughs) There you go.
PC: All right, ladies. We are done and out of time. This has been fun.
KM: Very fun, Marina. Thank you so much.
ML: Yes, thank you.
PC: I actually learned something: I can spell EAP now.
KM: You can. This is good, Marina.
PC: Thank you, folks, and we are out of here.
KM: Thank you.
ML: Thank you.