So, your company offers an EAP program, and you opted in. There's a bunch of EAP therapists you can choose from. How in the world do you determine which EAP therapist is the best fit for you?
No worries. It's simple if you break it down into baby steps.
What is an EAP therapist?
EAP therapists (also known as EAP counselors) help people overcome personal and/or professional struggles so they can live happier and healthier lives. EAP therapists typically meet with clients virtually.
An EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is a wellness benefit that many employers provide their workers with. EAPs connect employees to virtual therapists.
Your company may also provide a mental health program or virtual wellbeing program like Nivati. These tools typically provide live services with therapists, as well as on-demand tools to support wellbeing. This article also applies to you.
5 Steps to Find an EAP Therapist for You
If you have access to an EAP, you likely have a lot of therapists or counselors to choose from! Here's how to narrow the list down.
These tips will also help you prepare for the whole therapy process.
1. Determine Your Struggles
Set aside that list of therapists and take some time for reflection.
Why do you want to go to therapy? What is causing you distress? What is impacting your quality of life?
Here are some common things people will talk to an EAP therapist about:
- Mood swings
- Depression or sadness
- Relationship challenges
- Financial struggles
- Sleep struggles
- Healthy eating
- Race issues
- LQBTQ+ challenges
- Life transitions
- Work challenges
Sit down and write down a few things you have on your mind that you may want to discuss with your EAP counselor.
2. Determine Your Goals
Your goals should help you overcome the struggles you listed in Step #1.
You aren't expected to know exactly what your goals are going into therapy. In the first session or two, your EAP counselor will create a treatment plan with you. You can expect to talk about goals to set and how you will both reach them in-depth.
Here are some goals to consider:
- Learn how to control my thoughts and worries
- Grow in self-love
- Improve my relationship with my spouse, child, friend, parent, myself, etc.
- Learn how to manage anger
- Learn how to cope with depression
- Improve my work-life balance
- Stop lashing out at my loved ones
Pinpointing your goals will help you determine which type of EAP therapist to talk to, bringing us to Step #3.
For an in-depth guide on starting therapy for the first time, check out How to Start Therapy: Common Questions Answered.
3. Consider the Types of Therapy
There are many types of therapy out there. It can feel overwhelming!
Let's walk through some of the most common therapy methods and which struggles they help people overcome.
Common Types of Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (aka CBT) is all about learning how to manage your thoughts to change attitudes and behaviors. CBT has proven especially effective for people that struggle with anxiety and/or depression—the two most common mental health struggles in the United States. This is the most common form of therapy, and it can apply to nearly any situation, making it a great option for most people.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Related to CBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is all about learning how to live in the present moment, cope with stress, manage emotions, and thrive in relationships.
Solution-Focused Therapy focuses on helping a person reach their goals and overcome past experiences. The focus is mainly on the future rather than thoughts and feelings being experienced at present.
EAP Therapist Credentials
There are also some fancy abbreviations to look out for. These will help you determine if the therapist specializes in an area that you need support in.
Here are some quick tips:
- L = "Licensed" in a certain state
- SW = "Social Worker"
Who are psychiatrists?
Psychiatrists (people you call "Dr.") can prescribe medication and typically have "MD" tacked onto the end of their name.
However, you don't need to see a psychiatrist if you need medication and want to do talk therapy. A psychologist, social worker—any EAP therapist—can direct you to a psychiatrist if needed.
Who are psychologists?
A psychologist has a Doctorate or Master's level degree. They can diagnose, provide talk therapy, and practice different types of therapy (like CBT, DBT, etc.).
If you see extra letters after their name, it often means they have a specific area of expertise or interest.
Here are some examples:
- LMFT = Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- LPC = Licensed Professional Counselor
- LMHC = Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- LPCP = Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
- MFCC = Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor
Who are social workers?
Social workers are very similar to psychologists, but they tend to be more focused on holistic forms of treatment.
Here are some standard abbreviations for social workers:
- LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- MSW = Master of Social Work
The type of therapist you choose should be based on your struggles, goals, and values. For instance, if you are super into holistic care and are struggling with anxiety, you may want to talk to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker that uses CBT.
If you want to find out more about the therapists available to you, you can look them up on these sites:
- American Psychological Association
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
- Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists
4. Figure Out What Else Matters to You
Here are some other things you may want to consider during the EAP therapist search process:
- The therapist's gender
- The therapist's age
- The therapist's religion
- Cost of sessions
It is crucial that you feel comfortable with your therapist and that their values align with yours. Otherwise, it will be challenging to make progress in therapy.
You can also ask the therapist more questions about their personal experience (or find this info elsewhere):
- Where did you study?
- How long have you been in the field?
- Why did you enter the field of therapy?
- What is your specialty?
- What if your favorite type of therapy?
- How would you describe your therapy style?
- What treatments do you provide?
5. Follow Your Gut
If you have a chance to have a phone consultation with a therapist before your first official appointment with them, take it. This is an excellent opportunity to get a sense of the therapist's personality and see if they would be a good fit.
If you haven't gotten them answered yet, you can ask them the questions you came up with in Step #4.
You may also be able to correspond with the therapist over email.
How do you feel after interacting with them? Do they check all your must-have boxes? Did you feel more or less comfortable after talking to them?
If you feel good about your interactions with them so far, that bodes well for the future!
Related: How to Get the Most Out of Therapy
What if my EAP therapist isn't a good fit?
You don't need to feel bad if you just don't hit it off with your new EAP therapist after meeting with them a few times. Any experienced therapist has dealt with these situations before.
If you're doing virtual therapy through your EAP, you have a couple of options.
You can talk to your therapist directly about your relationship and your needs and ask them to refer you to another EAP therapist.
You can also find another therapist through your EAP by setting an appointment with another therapist.
Will my employer find out that I am going to therapy?
Absolutely not. Conversations with an EAP therapist (or any therapist) are confidential.
There are a couple of things that could break confidentiality and cause your therapist to reach out to your emergency contact:
- Saying that you will harm yourself
- Saying that you will harm someone else
You do not need to worry about your employer finding out that you are meeting with a therapist, and anything discussed during a therapy session. Therapy is private.
Whew! You did it! Why not take some time for self-care? You deserve it.
By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog's information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.