Employee Assistance Professionals Are Not Trained in Anger Management

Many companies and governmental agencies throughout the nation claim to offer anger management assessments, referrals and counseling as an employee benefit through their employee assistance programs. Unfortunately, most employee assistance professionals have no training or experience in anger management assessment or intervention.

Recently, a key member of the Employee Assistance Program Staff of the United States House of Representatives completed certification from Anderson & Anderson in anger management facilitation. This EAP manager explained that she is professionally trained at the Masters level in Clinical Social Work and substance abuse counseling. She acknowledged that she had no training in anger management and was not sure what anger management really is. Furthermore, she was unaware of appropriate referral resources for clients in need of anger management in her local area. She and her staff were routinely referring clients to mental health providers with disastrous results.

The highest level of professional certification in the employee assistance profession is the Certified Employee Assistance Professional, CEAP. I am a CEAP with over thirty years of experience. I can say with certainty that there is neither a requirement nor any mention of anger on the CEAP certification exan relative to anger or anger management. In spite of this, business, industry and governmental agencies are relying on Employee Assistance Providers to offer assistance in anger management as an employee benefit.

The information below is taken directly from the website of Employee Assistance Professional Association: http://www.eapassn.org/public/pages/index.cfm?pageid=507.

What is employee assistance?

Employee Assistance is the work organization’s resource that utilizes specific core technologies to enhance employee and workplace effectiveness through prevention, identification, and resolution of personal and productivity issues.

What is an employee assistance program (EAP)?

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a worksite-based program designed to assist (1) work organizations in addressing productivity issues and (2) “employee clients” in identifying and resolving personal concerns, including, but not limited to, health, marital, family, financial, alcohol, drug, legal, emotional, stress, or other personal issues that may affect job performance.

EAP Core Technology

The employee assistance program Core Technology (EAP Core Technology) represents the essential components of the employee assistance profession. These components combine to create a unique approach to addressing work organization productivity issues and “employee client” personal concerns affecting job performance and ability to perform on the job. The EAP Core Technology consists of the following:

(1) Consultation with, training of, and assistance to work organization leadership (managers, supervisors, and union stewards) seeking to manage the troubled employee, enhance the work environment, and improve employee job performance, and outreach to and education of employees and their family members about availability of EAP services;

(2) Confidential and timely problem identification/assessment services for employee clients with personal concerns that may affect job performance;

(3) Use of constructive confrontation, motivation, and short-term intervention with employee clients to address problems that affect job performance;

(4) Referral of employee clients for diagnosis, treatment, and assistance, plus case monitoring and follow-up services;

(5) Consultation to work organizations in establishing and maintaining effective relations with treatment and other service providers and in managing provider contracts;

(6) Consultation to work organizations to encourage availability of, and employee access to, health benefits covering medical and behavioral problems, including but not limited to alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental and emotional disorders; and

(7) Identification of the effects of EA services on the work organization and individual job performance.

A careful reading of the core technology and description of an Employee Assistance Program above clearly shows that anger or anger management is never mentioned. Yet anger management “counseling and referrals” are offered daily throughout the nation by EAPs. At the very least, this appears unethical, unprofessional or even fraudulent.

There is nothing in the core technology to assure that EAP professionals have any exposure whatsoever to anger management. Anger is not a mental health issue as determined by the American Psychiatric Association. Specifically, the APA maintains that anger is not a pathological condition and is therefore not listed in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Nervous and Mental Disorders (DSMIV). Given this information, it is clear that mental health professionals, including Employee Assistance Professionals, have no expertise in anger management.

Anger management referrals are on the rise

Bullying workers may say they don’t push other people around, but ComPsych Corp., an employment assistance program, says it has had an uptick in anger management referrals due to bullying or intimidating behavior.

The Chicago firm polled 1,000 employees from US firms around the country between March and April. Of those, only 3 percent described themselves as intimidators. But the company said that when it reviewed its caseload, it found that 90 percent of the anger management cases it receives yearly stemmed from clients’ concerns about bullying behavior.

The company, which examined how employees resolve conflicts in the workplace, said 10 percent of the respondents fell into the following groups: negotiators who use bargaining tactics to ease tensions and find common ground; communicators who rely on their persuasive abilities; avoiders who shy away from conflict; or procrastinators who tend to wait before diving in and resolving a problem with a co-worker. According to the company, people who bully colleagues or subordinates are more likely to demonstrate poor restraint, including angry outbursts or abusive language at work. In fact, these are the co-workers who get their way by forcing their peers to submit.

Conclusions

All Employee Assistance Professionals should be trained and certified as anger management facilitators. This will assure that they are capable of assessing the needs of employees in need of assistance in managing anger, stress, improving communication and increasing emotional intelligence. Human Resource Managers and Risk Management Consultants should have a minimum of two or four hour introduction to anger management assessment and referrals.

Health and mental health professionals should be offered elective courses in anger management from competent, experience facilitators of anger management.

There should and will be a coordinated national campaign initiated by the American Association of Anger Management Providers to inform the public of the importance and scope of anger management practice nationwide.

George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF, CEAP
Diplomate, American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anderson & Anderson®, The Trusted Name in Anger Management
http://www.andersonservices.com/
http://www.aaamp.org
http://www.linkedin.com/in/geoanderson
www.anger-management-resources.org

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