Cover Story

Key Individuals Interviewed for EAP History Project

By Dale A. Masi, PhD, CEAP; and Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD, CEAP

In April 2016, the Employee Assistance Research Foundation (EARF) announced it was sponsoring a major research effort – to present the first comprehensive history and evolution of EAPs across the world. Dr. Masi was contracted to research the history for the U.S. and Canada. In addition to a comprehensive narrative literature review, she conducted video interviews with seven key EAP subject matter experts (SMEs) who were instrumental in the development of EAPs. In addition, she was also interviewed for the project. This article covers the method and process for compiling these interviews.

Selection of Interviewees
With the approval of the EARF History Project Committee, Masi interviewed the following seven SMEs:

* Carl Tisone, founder of the Employee Assistance Research Foundation and former President/CEO and co-founder of PPC, Inc. and PPC Worldwide. Carl was among the primary persons most responsible for the rise of EAPs internationally.

* Jim Wrich, one of the original “Thundering 100” and an influential proponent of EAPs in the earliest days of their development. Jim authored one of the original publications on EAPs, The Employee Assistance Program, and he is the former (and first) director of the United Airlines EAP. (Editor’s note: Part one of Jim’s Project Broadbrush series appears elsewhere in this issue of the JEA.)

* John Burke, President of Burke Consulting. John is an expert in acquisitions and mergers and international consulting in development and strategic positioning services for vendors of EAP, work/life, and general and behavioral health services.

* Dave Sharar, Chief Clinical Officer at Chestnut Health Systems. Dave specializes in contemporary EAP issues and international concerns; co-developer of the Workplace Outcome Suite, the field’s only validated tool that specifically measures the workplace impact of EAP services.

* Rita Fridella, Executive Vice-President and General Manager Employee Support Solutions, Morneau Shepell. Rita is an expert in EAP development in Canada, and a board member of the Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA).

* Rick Csiernik, professor at King’s University College in Ontario, Canada. Rick specializes in contemporary Canadian EAP issues, and is a prolific researcher and author.

* Fran Rodgers, founder and CEO of Work Family Directions, is a pioneer in the area of work/life, and a corporate consultant on women’s issues in the workplace.

* Dale Masi, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, is an expert in design and evaluation of EAPs, creator of the model EAP for the U.S. federal government, and author of 15 books and numerous articles on EAPs. (Dr. Jodi Jacobson Frey interviewed Masi, for a total of eight interviews.)

UMBSSW Serves as Subcontractor
Masi subcontracted the video project with the University of Maryland (Baltimore) School of Social Work (UMBSSW), led by Dr. Jodi Frey, the Chair of the School of Social Work’s EAP Sub-Specialization Program. The interviews were conducted at the School of Social Work’s Media Lab, and directed and produced by Tom Mitchell.

Because the project involved human subjects, the study protocol was reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to selection and notification of the interviewees. As per the IRB’s requirements, Dr. Masi obtained informed consent from all of the SMEs prior to the interviews. As part of this process, each interviewee agreed to have their identity shared in the dissemination of results from this study.

Creating the Interview Guide 
Drs. Masi and Frey created a semi-structured interview guide for use during the interviews. The guide enabled us to conduct qualitative interviews and increase the rigor of the process, while still allowing enough flexibility to ask probing questions and further investigate ideas that came up during the course of the conversation.

Each interview lasted approximately one hour. All SMEs were asked questions focused on their perceptions of the EAP field in relation to its most influential historical milestones, and the impact of globalization and technology. Other questions were unique to the interviewee based on his/her expertise.

Special Training Required
In order to be considered a full research team member by the IRB, UMBSSW administrative and technology staffs were trained on human subjects protocols. As previously noted, Dr. Masi conducted seven of the interviews and the eighth was conducted by Dr. Frey at the UMBSSW Media Lab, which has broadcast-quality digital and analog media production capabilities. Interviewees used the Skype platform from their home or office. Two UMBSSW students in the EAP Sub-Specialization program were trained to take detailed notes during the interviews, one of them was present in the studio to complete this task during each interview. 

Interview Transcribing, Analyzing, Producing
Audio from the interviews was also transcribed verbatim by REV, a professional transcription company with expertise in qualitative research methods. Dr. Frey and her two students then analyzed the data using “line-by-line” coding to identify units of information and link them to broader concepts and themes in the data. After the data was independently coded from all the transcriptions, they used a system of constant comparative analysis to further develop the generative themes.

Media Lab technicians used Final Cut Pro X software to produce the final edited interviews. The file was then encrypted and sent electronically to the University’s Media Center for inclusion in the final product. Upon completion of the video interviews, Dr. Masi recorded a general introduction for the video interviews that precedes each presentation and offers an overview of the entire EARF History Project.

A full report on the findings of the video interviews will be published by the Employee Assistance Research Foundation as part of the overall EAP History Project. The video interviews are now available to the public and are permanently housed at the Employee Assistance Digital Archive in the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Health Sciences and Human Services Library (

Additionally, the IRB provided approval for the videos to be available on the EAPA ( and interviewee’s websites. Direct links to the individual interviews are provided below:

Carl Tisone Interview:
Fran Rodgers Interview:
Jim Wrich Interview:
Dale Masi Interview:
John Burke Interview:
Rick Csiernik Interview:
Rita Fridella Interview:
Dave Sharar Interview:

For more information, contact Dale at


Research Efforts Underway

The video interviews described in this article are just one part of the larger EAP History Project, which was established to document the history and evolution of EAPs worldwide, from their earliest beginnings to the present.

The Employee Assistance Research Foundation (EARF) Board of Directors awarded two grants in 2016 to support the project. Professor Ann Roche, PhD, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University in South Australia, was selected to lead the research focused on developments outside of the United States and Canada; while Professor Emeritus Dale Masi, PhD, CEAP, was selected to lead the research efforts pertaining to those two countries. 

Both research teams are conducting systematic literature reviews and archival research of unpublished documents, as well as interviewing key individuals who have helped shape the field. Together, the various components of the EAP History Project will result in a scholarly review and analysis of why and how the EAP field has evolved to this point, with a special emphasis on how cultural and other differences among countries affect EAP development and effectiveness. 

EARF and The Journal of Employee Assistance will continue to publish information about the EAP History Project as it becomes available.

John Maynard, PhD, CEAP
On behalf of the Employee Assistance Research Foundation (EARF)
Dr. John Maynard is a charter member of the EARF Board of Directors and currently serves on the Board’s History Project Oversight Committee.