In the organization I work for, one employee benefit is the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP.  Many companies today offer this to employees and sometimes even their family members.  Do you know if your company offers an EAP?  If you don’t know, it is worth looking into, as such programs can assist with a range of personal and professional issues from work performance, health and wellbeing, dealing with conflict in a healthy way, managing stress, family concerns, legal matters, alcohol and substance abuse, personal loss, grieving, and other life challenges.

I never thought I would personally use an EAP, perhaps out of stubborn pride that I could handle my problems on my own.  Then, I experienced a life event that had me feeling depressed and stuck.  I realized that I could not handle it alone.  I spoke about it with my spouse and close friends, yet even communicating my struggle with a wonderful personal support network wasn’t doing the trick.  I wanted to speak to someone completely outside of my circle, someone who could be more objective and someone who could listen to my story and perhaps help me get a fresh perspective.  It was then that I remembered the EAP.  I quickly discovered that I could receive up to six free, confidential counseling sessions.  It had been years since I had received counseling and what a gift it turned out to be.  Two questions into the first session, I was crying my eyes out, a powerful moment of release.   Seeking help allowed me to work through my issue in a way I could not have done on my own; I was still “doing the work”, but my counselor helped me tremendously in quickly getting to a point of resolution.

With winter upon us and the stress of the holidays approaching, remember that help is always available.  One form of help is the Employee Assistance Program.  Find out if you have access to one and don’t be afraid to utilize it.  Having such a positive experience with an EAP, I now recommend it to colleagues who are facing their own life challenges.  We all work so hard at our livelihoods and none of us are immune from stress and the difficulty of juggling professional and personal life.  If you don’t have access to an EAP, remember that there are always other community resources available to get the assistance you need.

Best wishes to you for a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.