Get the Most from Your Employee Assistance Program

If you’re dealing with work-related stress, a mental health episode, or a crisis in your personal life, you may know that the employee assistance program can help. But did you also know that the EAP can help you plan your next vacation, provide legal or financial assistance, offer life coaching, and even help you find a pet sitter?

Administered via TELUS Health, Columbia University’s EAP is a network of free or discounted services to support your personal success and help with everyday challenges. The EAP offers free assessments, short-term counseling (both in person and virtual), referrals, and follow-up services. All full-time benefits-eligible employees, even if they opt out of Columbia’s medical coverage, can use EAP services. Services are available 24/7 365 days per year and are completely confidential (Columbia receives reports on overall utilization of the program, but no identifying user data).

Short-term counseling is one of the EAP’s most popular features. EAP counselors can help with managing conflict at work, controlling anger or stress, concerns about addiction in a spouse or family member, parenting challenges, or struggles with self-esteem or communication issues. Employees receive six free counseling sessions per topic, per year.

“If you call in one day to talk about a situation in your family, you’ll have six sessions to address that issue, but if you call the next day and need to talk about a situation at work, that's another topic, and you get another six sessions,” says Althea Klein, associate director of HR benefits vendor relations at Columbia University. “The benefit also extends to other members of your household, even if they’re not dependents. If someone is living with you, they're entitled to use the EAP.”

Anxiety, stress, and family issues, such as divorce or separation, are some of the most common reasons Columbia employees seek support from the EAP. Departments, centers, or business units also can arrange group counseling sessions for employees when needed, such as after the death of a colleague or other difficult incidents.

Another way the EAP can help manage stress is through its concierge services, which can assist with needs ranging from finding a caterer or real estate agent, vacation planning, restaurant reservations, and pet care. The EAP also offers six free sessions with a life coach. The sessions start by helping you clarify what you want to achieve, then identifying your own personal strengths and resources and creating an actionable plan to achieve your goals.

“You set a goal with the coach and make a plan to achieve it, whether it's weight loss, working on a project, helping you find motivation, or anything else,” Klein says. “We get excellent reports on this service—people find it to be very beneficial.”

In addition to individual services, the EAP offers regular monthly programming exclusive to Columbia University, and Columbia University HR sends a monthly newsletter detailing upcoming EAP events and information on the program. One recent event, “Dealing with the Elephant in the Room,” had more than 400 attendees.


Learn More

Learn more about your employee assistance program.