Last spring at the Field Agency Marketplace, I wasn’t even aware that there was an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH). I had only recently learned what an EAP was and knew nothing of how one might operate or what services were offered. However, after a second year student from my Grief & Bereavement class gave a glowing review of her supervisor there, I began reading more about TCH’s EAP. I knew that I wanted structured supervision and to obtain a better understanding of how to use specific theories in clinical practice, and it seemed like the EAP might be a good fit. EAPs provide a range of services to an organization’s employees at no charge. TCH’s EAP provides counseling for issues related not only to workplace stress and concerns, but also for issues such as grief /loss, substance abuse, relationship conflict, anger management, trauma, financial assistance, and referrals.
At first I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed. From learning how to properly categorize appointments in Outlook or send e-mails to reading through the many relevant TCH policies and procedures, I felt like I might never gain an understanding of the EAP. I can recall one particular experience which was equally terrifying and exciting. I was sitting in my supervisor’s office filling out forms when he came back into the office with two clients who were in crisis. I must have looked bewildered as I introduced myself and took a seat next to my supervisor. Perhaps it was better that I did not have time to become anxious about the first client, and I am grateful that I experienced a unique aspect of the EAP on the first day. I still feel a tinge of nervousness as I walk into the waiting room to introduce myself, but I am starting to feel more comfortable.
Both my supervisor and the other EAP specialist have incredibly diverse work experiences and are very skilled clinicians. I appreciate that they have different academic backgrounds and licensures (Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist versus Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and at times have different approaches to working with clients. They offer an open door policy for supervision, so whenever I have a question, would like to process a session with a client, or am in need of guidance for which theoretical approach might be best, I feel welcome stepping into their offices. While shadowing the EAP specialists in sessions, I must fight against my expectation to absorb their knowledge and mimic techniques with my own clients. Just as I encourage clients to be patient with the therapeutic process, I am trying to be patient with myself. I know that to facilitate therapy well, I’ll need lots of practice.