Thursday, January 18, 2024

Britte Garrett
Britte Garrett, LMHC, CCTP
UI EAP, Senior Behavioral Health Clinician

Winter can be a time to not only stay in but to look inward. It is often a good time for all of us to do a check-in on how we are feeling and what we need to make it through the winter, hopefully in a way that maintains or even improves our well-being. 

The UI EAP is here to help in this process.  The Employee Assistance Program (UIEAP) is staffed by licensed mental health professionals and offers up to six free, confidential counseling sessions to faculty, staff, post docs, medical residents, and their families.  

Whether or not you are familiar with counseling, you may be wondering if EAP is the right place for you.

 

When should I go to counseling?

You might need to locate some resources or maybe you are struggling with a difficult relationship or situation.  Perhaps you have always thought that counseling would be helpful but haven’t had the ability to give it a try. It could be that you aren’t sure what to do to improve your well-being. These are all reasons to attend counseling.

Counseling can be a way to identify what you need to do to take care of yourself or to address a problem.  Counseling is a private place to share information with an objective party and say whatever you need to say without judgment or worry that it will be shared.  Speaking something out loud can change the way we view a situation and changing our perspective can change a lot.  Counseling is a space where you can work on the development of healthy coping skills and self-care.

There is no issue too large or too small for EAP.  EAP is for any type of assistance. If the issue is out of the scope of EAP you are still in the right place as we can help identify an appropriate resource or referral.  Many people come in to “test drive” counseling and see if it is something they feel will be helpful to them and that is a great use of EAP as well.

What happens at an appointment?

UI EAP provides services Monday - Friday with appointments primarily occurring 8:00am - 5:00pm, but with several weekly appointments after 5:00pm. EAP offers in person appointments at UIHC (Employee Health Clinic in Boyd Tower), at USB, and via zoom. 

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Some may have concerns about what the first session might be like.  That is normal. The experience will be focused on what you feel is most important.  This service and the information you share is voluntary. There is no expectation that you divulge your life story or all the details of traumatic events. It is normal in the counseling process to work to build trust and rapport with your provider before you share a lot.  Having said that, at times EAP is a place for people to come in, vent about all their feelings in the first session, and that feels like enough and they may not return.

The process is guided by you. You are free to reschedule or to never come back.  You are free to ask for a different provider. You are free to switch to a totally different topic if you do come back. You are free to give feedback on what is working and what is not working for you in the process.  We have multiple clinicians at EAP and also provide referrals to help get you to a person and place that feels like it would be helpful.

Things you should know

EAP does not diagnose, do formalized assessments, or provide medication. We are a support and source of assistance. 

EAP is voluntary and confidential. You are the only person who can make the decision to come and for that reason you are the only person that can schedule your appointment. We won’t share any information unless we are concerned you are an immediate danger to yourself or others and if we did have that concern you would be the first person to know.

We don’t give advice.  Counseling is a collaborative process in which two people (more if it’s couples or family counseling) work together to identify different perspectives on and options to address an issue. Counselors don’t tell you what to do, they work to help you decide what you want to do. 

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Nothing is off the table. We are trained to provide support for people that have encountered trauma and difficult situations and our goal is to create a space where you are not concerned about the therapist, but where you can focus on you. So don’t be worried about the content that you bring. 

Consider taking some time to check in with yourself.  Your well-being matters. Whether the issue is large or small, we are here for you!!