Some counsellors are specifically qualified to offer their services to organisations both in their own practices and onsite.
Although private arrangements can occur, many organisations choose to take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), an initiative of the Australian Government. This is a work-based intervention program developed to provide a range of counselling and supportive services for all employees and their immediate family members.
Services are tailored to meet the needs of each organisation and can be adapted to changing situations. More and more organisations are recognising that to have all their systems and departments functioning at an optimal level, it is vital for individual employees to also be performing at optimal level and to be fully engaged.
Therefore, providing proactive interventions that help employees identify and resolve any issues that may be affecting their performance is in everyone’s best interests. Regardless of whether the issues are work-related or of a personal nature, individual and group counselling and coaching sessions can all be included in an EAP program.
Personal issues can include (but are not limited to):
Work-related issues can include:
Qualified workplace counsellors can assist in many areas.
At an organisational level, they can provide input into workplace health policies and strategies, they can offer general talks or awareness programs for management and staff and provide supportive literature and other resources.
Some organisations may opt to provide regular counselling services on-site such as once a fortnight. They may provide a private room for counselling sessions and employees can make a booking if they choose to.
Counsellors are often called in to help resolve disputes or poor communication issues. They can do this through mediation, groups sessions or meeting with the individuals involved to help them clarify the issues and develop more effective strategies to move forward.
If the organisation has been affected by a sudden or major trauma (such as a death of a co-worker, a fire or if they have been in a dangerous situation) counsellors can be called in at short notice. They can help the affected people through their initial shock and slowly learn to understand and process what they have witnessed. Early intervention and de-briefing in this manner can help reduce the likelihood of the individuals developing long-term coping issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Regardless of the cause, EAP counsellors can identify problems, diagnose mental health issues, provide treatment, refer to external community resources or liaise with management to create strategies to improve and enhance the situation.
In addition to providing services to handle negative situations, workplace counsellors can also provide a range of positive and pro-active services.
Counsellors can help people identify their passions, improve their self-confidence and self-esteem and clarify their goals. This can be especially useful for those wanting to seek a promotion or those returning to the workforce. When employees feel confident in their abilities and are given the opportunity to use them, their improved morale becomes contagious.
Other popular services provided by many counsellors include a range of well-being programs such as mindfulness coaching, team-building activities and self-help training.
Many mental health professionals - including psychologists, professional counsellors and social workers – can apply for registration with the Employee Assistance Professional Association of Australasia (Inc).
Fully registered EAP provider members are those organisations, groups or units who have a minimum of 5 years approved experience within Australia. All provider members must have a designated psychologist or social worker overseeing the services offered by their organisation. Other applicants with different levels of experience can apply for various forms of provisional or lower levels of membership.