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How do I Become an EAP Counselor?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Employee assistance program (EAP) counselors help employees of companies and organizations to better handle work stress, coworker conflicts, layoffs and other problems in the work environment. They also provide personal counseling, couples counseling and family counseling to employees who are having problems in their private lives. EAP counselors are educated professionals typically trained in occupations such as psychology, counseling, social work, or related areas. If you want to become an EAP counselor, you will need at least a bachelor's degree but possibly a master's degree, and you will needs several years of clinical work experience.

Training to become an EAP counselor usually involves earning at least a four-year degree and often an advanced education. Specific requirements will vary. For example, some EAP counselors are trained as clinical psychologists and hold doctoral degrees in psychology and must be licensed in the field. An EAP counselor with an academic background as a social worker might hold anything from a bachelor's degree to a doctorate and might be required to be certified or licensed, depending on his or her geographic location.

Specialized certification as an EAP counselor will let employers know that you are an expert in the field of employee assistance and can make you more attractive to employers. Certification is not required to become an EAP counselor, but it might be required by some hiring employers. The major certification that is offered to employee assistance counselors is the Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP) credential through the international Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). Requirements for earning it vary depending on the candidate’s current educational and experience levels.

Joining organizations such as EAPA and others in the field can provide educational and networking opportunities and possibly help you find a job in the profession. Such organizations also can help you determine the specific additional training and experience you will need to acquire to work in this field if you already have training as a psychologist, counselor or marriage and family therapist or in a related occupation.

Characteristics that will help make you a successful EAP counselor include strong listening and speaking skills. A caring, emotionally stable personality is important. Being sensitive to the concerns of others and compassionate in helping others deal with their problems is needed if you want to become an EAP counselor. Having leadership qualities that inspire others also will help you in this position.

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Discussion Comments

By anon335802 — On May 23, 2013

CompPsych, out of Chicago, "gives Masters Educated Independently licensed MH professionals the opportunity to provide EAP services for $30.00 per hour." It is a racket. These national EAP companies take mot of the money and allow dribs and drabs to the actual service providers. With overhead and taxes, the MH professional, whom CompPsych is treating as their stooge, clears, perhaps $7.00 per hour. It is disgusting.

By ElizaBennett — On Jun 17, 2012

@SailorJerry - I think you're right. I have a friend who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which means she has a master's degree in social work and has made counseling her specialty. She does "regular" counseling three days a week and the EAP two days.

The thing is that EAP providers are usually limited to just a few sessions per patient (the service she works with limits to two). My friend says that it is just not as satisfying to meet someone one or twice and send them along rather than getting to work with them longer-term and really see them make progress.

On the other hand, it is a nice steady little income for her. She also likes that it keeps her in touch with other therapists in the area--she does a lot of referrals, so she needs to know who takes what insurance and what people's specialties are. Some therapists don't work with couples, for instance, while others love it, some are trained to work wit adolescents but most aren't, etc.

By SailorJerry — On Jun 17, 2012

I think it's important for people interested in this field to know that it is not necessarily a full-time thing. I recently sought EAP counseling through my husband's employer. I had one session with a counselor who referred me to someone who accepted my insurance and whom she thought would be a good match for me, after hearing what I wanted to talk about and work on.

At any rate, the person that I saw did the EAP counseling every Wednesday, and then the rest of the week she did private counseling. I suspect that's a pretty common arrangement, where a qualified counselor contracts with an EAP as just one part of their practice.

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