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Free therapy sessions? Yes Please! All about EAP

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You're ready! You've made the amazing decision to start therapy. You've placed it on your vision board, you've marked an ideal start date in your calendar, and you've prioritized it right up there with "drink more water" and "get more sleep". Excellent! Now you're wondering - where do you start and how do you pay for it?

Starting therapy is a phenomenal decision - and, it comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, finding a therapist you like who takes your insurance, getting up the courage to make that first phone call or email, and finding time and space to engage in the therapeutic process. Another potential obstacle to starting therapy can be financial. However, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefit may be just what you're looking for.

What is EAP?

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a benefit offered by some employers to support employee well-being and work performance. The concept of the Employee Assistance Program has origins that go back to the 1930s, when alcoholism on the job was a significant concern. In response to the positive impact of AA meetings, the EAP movement was created to support members of the workforce with managing various life stressors, including but not limited to addictions and substance abuse, which can affect both mental health and work performance.

Today, EAP therapy sessions are covered by an employer as a way of helping employees manage life challenges that may make functioning at work difficult. These challenges are not limited to work-related concerns, however. An employee can use EAP for support with a variety of issues- including unexpected life events, relationship concerns, anxiety, depression, or grief.

"EAP therapy sessions are not limited to work-related employee can use EAP for support with a variety of issues - including unexpected life events, relationship concerns, anxiety, depression, or grief."

Why is this beneficial and when would you use this?

EAP therapy sessions are sessions covered in full by your employer. Yes, you read that right. Employers will often partner with a company that issues EAP (Cigna, Lyra, Aetna, etc.) to provide their employees a specific number of free mental health related services (the average is from 3-10 sessions).

It's important to note that your employer does not see if or where you use your EAP benefits to ensure your privacy. EAP is typically also available for any household family member to use. However, the number of EAP sessions allowed is not per person, but total, regardless of who is using the benefit.

The pluses of using EAP include having access to support when you or a household family member is in crisis (often via a crisis hotline), assistance with finding an in-network therapist, support with processing life stressors, and of course, no out of pocket cost to you.


Many EAP providers also offer free 24 hr crisis hotlines, which can be used if you ever need immediate support (not to be used instead of calling 911 in the event of an emergency). This can be helpful if seeing a therapist is not possible for a few days. Additionally, EAP can be helpful for any family member who is a child or who does not have mental health insurance benefits. You also may choose to use EAP if your insurance has a high deductible or does not cover mental health services to the extent that you need. EAP services can be used any time of the year, as long as you remain employed with the company who provides this benefit.

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Okay - You'd like to use EAP, now what?

So you're loving the idea of using EAP benefits - what's the next step? We're glad you asked.

First, if you aren’t sure if your employer offers EAP, you have a few of options:

  1. Reach out to your employer's Human Resources (HR) department and inquire about EAP benefits. Be sure to get the name of the EAP provider and their contact information.

  2. Ask a fellow employee (if you’re comfortable) if they know.

  3. Call your medical insurance customer service phone number, and ask a representative if they can see any EAP benefits included under your name (for instance, if you have Cigna insurance, they will often be able to do this).


After you determine who your EAP provider is, the next step is to contact them directly. They will be able to go over the details of the benefit with you. They may either point you in the direction of the provider directory so that you may look for a therapist you prefer, or they may refer you directly to one in your area.  This step is important because not all therapists accept EAP.


From there, you will be able to reach out to the provider to schedule your first session. Be sure to tell them you are using your EAP benefit so they know to bill the sessions correctly (i.e, not bill you!).

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At H & S, our dedicated team is happy to help clients and potential clients use EAP benefits to access therapy services.

Once you contact us to request services and inform us that you would like to use your EAP benefits, our Administrative Assistant and Billing Coordinator will assist you with scheduling your first session with a therapist that is the best fit for you and your needs.

During your initial session with a therapist here at H & S, the therapist will gather information about your concerns, history, resources, and goals . They will make clinical recommendations and collaborate with you on coming up with a plan of care that aligns with your stated priorities and needs. This process includes getting a sense of how long treatment might need to be in order to get you closer to your goals. Often, treatment extends beyond EAP sessions, in which case our knowledgeable Billing Coordinator can work with you to apply your insurance benefits or out-of-pocket payment. Our skilled and caring therapists may also make recommendations for other services and resources if needed.


Setting Your Intention & Preparing for Success

Making the decision to start therapy is phenomenal. Caring for our mental health is just as important as caring for our physical health. You've set an intention to make it happen - be proud!

To support you on a path of success, there are some important considerations that may increase the chances that you will see some positive change. We encourage you to ask these questions of yourself in order to help you and your therapist work most effectively:


  • If therapy is successful, what would look different in my life? What would I be doing, saying, thinking, or feeling? The answers to these questions point to your therapy goals.

  • Do I want to/am I able to participate in therapy beyond the allotted EAP sessions? How long do I want to commit to therapy?

  • Can my goals reasonably be worked toward in the time frame I am committing to?

  • What other resources do I have to help me move toward my goals (finances, time, energy, social support, family support?

If you are not sure about your answers to these questions, that's okay! You are warmly invited to contact us with your EAP questions, or schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with a therapist who may assist you in processing your thoughts to some of these questions.

Wishing you a wonderful wellness journey!

~Dee & Mackenzie

Other Mental Health Resources

Below are just a few additional therapy resources that may be helpful:


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