Let’s face it, trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance can be quite the challenge, especially given the demands of today’s fast-paced work environments and busier-than-ever family schedules. Not to mention, a raging pandemic that has forced many families to forge their professional and personal lives into the same space for the last year. It’s safe to say that we are juggling countless roles on a daily basis. One role that can become particularly vulnerable in times of stress is your relationship with your partner or spouse. 

The good news is, help is not far away. In fact, many people are not aware that as part of their employee benefits plan 

There may be an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that can help you and your partner get back on track, or at least get pointed in the right direction.

How can you access your EAP benefits?

First, check your company website where your benefits and/or human resources information is housed. There you may be able to see if your EAP is a separate company your organization contracts with or if it’s embedded within your insurance plan. You may also be able to find this information in your company’s employee handbook. Additionally, you can always contact your supervisor or human resource representative as they will be able to provide you with information on how to access your EAP benefits (phone numbers, websites, etc.). EAP’s can offer a wide range of services, which may differ greatly from one company to the next, but counseling services is one resource that is typically consistent across most employee assistance programs.

Why use the EAP?

Employers want their workforce to be successful and they recognize that life is not always easy outside of work, which can ultimately impact one’s ability to be present and productive in their job. Your employer cares about your overall well-being, so if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, grief and loss, relationship concerns etc., one way your company can support you is through an employee assistance program. And yes, most EAPs offer couples counseling as an option as well.

Benefits of using your EAP

  • Free
  • Confidential
  • Easily accessible
  • Can help minimize the stress of searching for a therapist on your own
  • Brief, solution-focused, goal-oriented
  • Can provide connection to other resources as needed (e.g. legal and financial aid, etc.)

How does EAP counseling work? 

The nature of EAP counseling is designed to be short term – brief, solution-focused modalities are often utilized in EAP work due to session limitations. However, whether you have access to 10 sessions or 2, the EAP clinician is highly trained to assess the problem, determine whether the goals are achievable within the session-model, and can make appropriate referrals for longer term therapy if necessary. Many couple issues can find relief and improvement through short-term EAP work. For example, couples seeking help in the following areas would benefit from EAP counseling:

  • Brief premarital counseling
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Communications skills
  • Work-life-relationship balance issues
  • Parenting skills

What about counseling beyond EAP?

There are many couples who are facing especially painful and complicated circumstances in their relationships which can often result in direct referral upon initial intake to longer term counseling or at least encounter an “assess and refer” situation; meaning, the EAP clinician might meet with the couple 1-2 times but ultimately refer out. Examples of those issues include:

  • Infidelity
  • Trauma
  • Addiction challenges 
  • Attachment concerns
  • Separation/Divorce
  • High conflict couples

No matter the issue, EAP’s can provide a safe landing-zone for all couples to explore their options with a professional and begin talking about how they want to tackle their concerns as a couple and create a solid plan for moving forward with their goals. 

What if my partner and I need more?

Not to worry, your EAP clinician will help in providing you with sound, reputable referrals in your area for long term therapy, read the section on If we are “referred out,” what should we expect?. Additionally, they may recommend reading material and other resources on various approaches that a longer term couples therapist might utilize in your continued work with your partner. If you know the issues you face with your partner are going to take some time and finesse, you can certainly go ahead and seek out a provider on your own. 

If you want to learn more about our couples services and live in Arizona, North Carolina, or Texas, we can help. Contact us to get started. We offer virtual sessions only right now to accommodate the safety of our staff and clients during the time of COVID-19.