Front Desk

History and Trends in the EA Profession

By Maria Lund, LEAP, CEAP


The employee assistance field is steeped rich in history, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this issue of the Journal of Employee Assistance.

Last year, the Employee Assistance Research Foundation (EARF) announced it was sponsoring a major research effort – to present the first comprehensive history and evolution of EAPs around the world. As part of this extensive EAP History Project, Dale Masi, PhD, interviewed seven key individuals who were instrumental in the development of EAPs. In this issue’s cover story, Dr. Masi and Jodi Jacobson Frey describe the process used in arranging and recording these important video interviews.

As well as serving as one of the subject matter experts (SMEs) for the video project, Jim Wrich, one of the original “Thundering 100”, recalls important EAP history in Project 95-Broadbrush. In this article, the first in a series, Jim describes early views on alcoholism and how to treat it. A vital employment premise determined that 95% of alcoholics were in the workplace – hence the term “Project 95.” Thus, the stage was set for Jim and his group (who were recovering drinkers themselves), through this project, to launch the modern EAP movement. Jim, an early member of ALMACA (later EAPA), will describe other important developments and milestones in EAP history in future articles. 

Continuing with the history and research theme, Melissa Tamburo, PhD; and Jeffrey Mintzer, MSW, describe how Federal Occupational Health (FOS) has validated positive results using the Workplace Outcome Suite (WOS). Their article, which reiterates the importance of the WOS in measuring positive workplace outcomes, is noteworthy since the FOS serves more than 360 federal agencies.

Extensive research unveiled a number of evolving, changing landscapes pertaining to workplace mental health in Canada. Mark Attridge, PhD, MA; Dylan Davidson, BAA; and Joti Samra, PhD, R.Psych, describe their important findings in each of five key areas.

Elsewhere, Robin Sheridan, JD, MILHR, explains how EA professionals can navigate the slippery slope of when we need to breach employee client confidentiality in “duty to warn” cases. Robin describes how specific procedures vary case by case, and state by state.

Finally, Jeff Harris, Marina London, and John Maynard offer important practice insights and observations in their respective columns. Happy reading.