EAP Terms

Everything you need to know about EAP. 


Those provisions as stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as they apply to the Federal community through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, providing disabled consumers physical and communications access to services. In addition, it also relates to “the opportunity of consumers to obtain services based on the location of service, hours of operation, and affordable fees.” (Council on Accreditation (COA) Glossary, 7th Edition/Version 1.1)

Assessed Secondary Problem

Additional issues that directly affect the primary problem and are often a consequence of the primary problem.

Assessed Tertiary Problem

Additional problems or issues may need to be addressed, which may be related to, or be independent of, the primary or secondary problem.

Assessed Primary Problem

An issue or problem determined by the EAP counselor to be the core issue (such as a mental health concern, work/life issue, and/or medical manifestations) that, once addressed, should result in the resolution or mitigation of the symptoms and/or problems of the client.


An ongoing process or evaluation in which professional expertise and skills are exercised to collect and analyze data, which in cooperation with the client, results in identifying, defining and prioritizing the client’s physical, mental, and social issues, problems or challenges. An assessment provides for an accurate diagnosis of the client and the basis for a treatment or problem solving plan. (COA Glossary, 7th Edition/Version 1.1 and subcommittee language)

Blended EAP Model

See EAP Model

Brief/Short-Term Counseling/Treatment

Services provided by the EAP counselor to the employee/client for approximately 1 to 6 sessions. The basis for the number of sessions is often determined by the philosophy of the agency and/or financial considerations. When counseling is required beyond the number of sessions originally provided, the EAP counselor is expected to ensure the employee is referred out and the linkage to the new counselor is made.

Capitated Risk

The assumption of responsibility by a clinician or an organization for providing specific services to clients under a pre-established reimbursement agreement,8 and where the contractor assumes the financial risk should the EAP services delivered exceed the contractor’s cost projections. (COA Glossary, 7th Edition\Version 1.1, page 2)

Capitation Rate

A per-employee dollar amount per year, paid by a Federal agency to an external EAP provider for EAP services, under the terms of a contract. In exchange for the payment, the EAP vendor usually provides all contracted services regardless of the level of use (utilization) by agency’s employees and covered family members. (EAPA Glossary of Employee Assistance Terminology, 1994, page 4, and subcommittee modification. Thus, if only one employee received services the entire year, the contractor would receive 100% of the agreed-to payment. If hundreds of employees were to receive services, the contractor would have to provide the services at the agreed-to price without any additional consideration.)

Case Management

The coordinating, monitoring and discharge planning of overall services, by the EAP counselor for the EAP client and Federal agency, to ensure treatment gains are realized and that the employee makes the most benefit of the resources at hand. This is usually a standard component of the EAP vendor’s service and may or may not be provided at an additional charge, when provided by a contractor

Chemical Dependency

Physiological and psychological dependence on a chemical, such as alcohol, tobacco, barbiturate, or narcotic, which results in a number of physical and emotional symptoms such as increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when the chemical is removed. (COA Glossary, 7th Edition\Version 1.1, page 3 and committee modification.)


An individual who is eligible to receive EAP services, as defined by agency policy or contract requirements. A client might include an employee or the employee’s spouse, dependent child, parent, or domestic partner, or a retiree.


Of or pertaining to examination, assessment, and direct counseling or treatment, as opposed to experimental or laboratory study.11 (COA, 7th edition\Version 1.1, page 3, modified by including the word “counseling.” )

Clinical Services

Those services offered by an EAP counselor in which an assessment and counseling are provided.

Counseling Services

Specialized services and therapeutic interventions provided by both licensed and non-licensed professionals (as permitted by the sponsoring Federal agency) with the purpose of identifying and mitigating or resolving clients’ personal, professional, financial, mental health, or addiction problems or challenges. (COA, 7th edition\Version 1.1, page 4, and subcommittee language.)

Counselor, EAP

A specially trained individual, usually licensed in the field of mental health and addictions, who operates in an occupational setting and whose clients may be both management and employees in general.

Covered Lives

The total universe of persons who are eligible for EAP services as defined by the sponsoring (host) agency. A Federal agency might define covered lives as employees and their family members, while another agency may offer services only to employees.

Crisis Intervention

A brief type of therapy or counseling, offered to persons involved in a highly emotional or traumatic event, to prevent long-term psychological harm, with the intention of restoring the clients to at least their pre-crisis level of functioning, and referring to long-term treatment resources as may be warranted.

Critical Incident

An event, usually sudden, unexpected and potentially life-threatening, “in which a person experiences a trauma, i.e., feels overwhelmed by a sense of personal vulnerability and/or lack of control. Examples of a critical incident are a natural disaster, serious workplace accident, a hostage situation or violence in the workplace.” (EAPA Glossary, 1994, page 7, and committee language)

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISB)

A structured group or individual intervention that encourages the expression of thoughts and feelings about the incident, followed by identification and normalization of symptoms, familiarization with the process of recovery, and referral to appropriate services. The EAP (in cooperation with the host organization), usually schedules a CISD at the worksite with a group of employees directly affected by a critical incident as soon as possible following the traumatic event. (Ibid., with “in cooperation with the host organization” added.). A CISD is a concept coined by Jeffrey T. Mitchell, Ph.D.,15 and has become an integral part of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF). It was originally meant to be applied among public safety, disaster response, and military and emergency service personnel by a skilled intervention team. The ICISF contends that a CISD can also be used with virtually any population, including children, when employed by a skilled intervener. Some researchers contend that “scientific studies have resulted in numerous calls for caution and restraint in the use of CISD.”

Critical Incident Stress Management

The constellation of services or activities that may be used by an organization to respond to and manage a critical incident (core concept was developed by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation). Services and activities include, but are not limited to, debriefings, outreach to the workforce, psycho-educational activities related to trauma, anniversary responses, etc. (FOH Definitions)

Drug Free Workplace

Those laws, regulations and policies emanating from Executive Order (EO) 12564 of September 15, 1986, and subsequently the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, that ordered Federal employees to refrain from using illegal drugs, whether on or off duty. It mandates that the head of each Executive agency shall develop a plan for achieving the objective of a drug–free workplace. Elements of the plan include establishing a program to test for the use of illegal drugs by employees in sensitive positions; training for managers and employees; and establishment of EAPs that emphasize highlevel direction, education, counseling, referral to rehabilitation, and coordination with available community resources. (Executive Order 12564 and committee language.)

EAP Liaison

Those individuals employed by the sponsoring Federal agency (host) who are responsible for ensuring that the EAP contract is administered in accordance with established policies and procedures. (FOH Definitions)

Ethical Standards

A specific set of professional behaviors and values (code of ethics) the employee assistance professional must know and abide by, including confidentiality, accuracy, privacy, and integrity. A non-licensed EAP professional or counselor should, at a minimum, abide by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) Code of Ethics and Employee Assistance Certification Commission (EACC) Code of Professional Conduct.


Formal principles or values for evaluating practices that are right or wrong, good or bad. Most professional organizations have ethical codes of conduct that define general standards of appropriate professional conduct.

Host Organization

The Federal agency or sub-agency that provides the resources to establish and support EAP services.


The entry point at which a potential EAP client’s eligibility is assessed against established criteria and a preliminary evaluation of the presenting problem occurs. (COA page 7, with the additional words “a potential EAP client’s” were added. Usually the first appointment with the counselor is when the intake occurs. Intake usually begins in the first appointment with the counselor.)

Mandatory Referral

A referral by the supervisor to the EAP for an employee’s positive drug test or other events designated by the agency. While this referral to the EAP is mandatory, there is no authority or requirement to compel an employee to partake of EAP services, which are voluntary. Failure to do so, however, may have adverse consequences for the employee.

Peer Support Personnel

Federal employees who have volunteered to participate in an agency’s Peer Support Program. Peers are non-professionals who usually have a limited role in assisting their peers when there are traumatic events at work or other personal challenges. (See “EAP Model.”)

Return to Work Agreement

An agreement among an employee, the employee’s supervisor, the EAP, treatment provider and other parties as may be appropriate, to establish a set of conditions for the employee’s return to work. It is usually issued following extended leave for treatment for substance abuse or physical or mental illness. The conditions found in the agreement are usually related to duties, conduct, attendance and treatment scheduling. The agreement also states any consequences, if agreed-upon conditions are violated and what action the supervisor may take. A Return to Work Agreement should be drafted in consultation with the agency’s Employee Relations staff.

Statement of Understanding

A document that describes the limits of confidentiality and the services available through the EAP. It is given to the employee at the beginning of the first session and must be signed prior to the employee receiving counseling. The elements of the statement must contain those reflected in 42 CFR part 2, subsection 290.ee-3, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (if applicable to the agency), and other unique circumstances about the EAP that should be disclosed to the employee.

Unit Cost

A calculation of the price or value of a fixed amount or unit of service that takes into account the sum of all organizational expenditures involved in the provision of that service. (COA, page 12.)