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Dartmouth News
>  News Releases >   2003 >   May

More employees are using free counseling service

Posted 05/05/03, by Amanda Weatherman


James Platt (left) and Sharon Morisi are the two full-time counselors at the F/EAP.
(photo by Amanda Weatherman)

The Faculty/Employee Assistance Program (F/EAP) opened four satellite locations during 2001 and 2002, which has contributed to a 26 percent increase in the number of people seeking counseling from the program during the last half of 2002 compared to the last half of 2001. F/EAP is a service that provides free, short-term counseling for Dartmouth employees.

While the program's main office behind the Church of Christ at Dartmouth (the white church) is convenient for many employees, its location is inconvenient for people farther away, like at Centerra or Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where more than 1,000 Dartmouth employees work, according to Platt. Even employees on campus are more likely to use the F/EAP if it's closer to their offices.

"That walk across campus can really change a person's motivation," said James Platt, Director of the program and Instructor in Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School. "When someone is distressed, it can be too much effort to walk that far, so we've started going to them. It's made a big difference."

Platt runs the program with one other counselor, Sharon Morisi, Clinical Associate and Instructor in Psychiatry at DMS, whose position was expanded from half to full time last year.

F/EAP opened satellite offices in Centerra, DHMC, the Hopkins Center (for Hopkins Center and Hood Museum employees) and at the Tuck School (for Tuck employees). Each satellite office is open one day a month when people can either make appointments or drop in to visit a counselor.

The College's budget cuts and the prospect of being layed off last winter caused considerable anxiety, especially among single parents employed at Dartmouth. This accounted for some of the increased visits from people, many of whom identified family stress as their primary reason for coming, Platt said.

F/EAP will see clients to discuss any issue. In fact, most of the program's clients come to talk about issues not related to work. The College offers free counseling, Platt said, because when people carry the burden of problems from home, they can't necessarily shed them at work.

"By getting help in resolving issues, employees are able to be more focused on their work, and they're more productive."

-James Platt

"By getting help in resolving issues, employees are able to be more focused on their work, and they're more productive," Platt said. "The other part of it is that people face a lot of responsibilities at home, and a lot of responsibilities at work. We can help them figure out if they need more training, or to identify what resources they need."

Roughly 35 percent of the people who visit are referred to outside professionals. For example, if an employee is going through a divorce, the F/EAP counselors can help that person identify divorce lawyers who offer a free initial consultation, or if medical help is needed that isn't available in the BlueChoice network, counselors will help find health care that is as affordable as possible.

"I really see the College as a community; it's family members helping other family members feel better about themselves and what they do," Platt said.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) started in the manufacturing industry, and were first organized by unions, according to information from the International Association of Employee Assistance Professionals in Education (IAEAPE) website. In the 1970s higher education began to incorporate EAPs, usually as part of the human resources offices. Similarly, Dartmouth's F/EAP is also incorporated as part of Human Resources, however the program is a collaborative effort between the DMS Department of Psychiatry and Human Resources. The University of Delaware, Rutgers University and the University of Missouri started EAPs to deal with alcohol abuse by faculty and staff members. The University of Missouri organized conferences to help other colleges start EAPs, and now, according to the association's secretary, Tom Waldecker, more than 100 colleges in the country operate EAPs.

-Amanda Weatherman

F/EAP offers:

  • Free counseling to employees, their domestic partners, their children, or any individual identified as a family member.
  • Counseling for personal or professional issues.
  • Up to eight visits per calendar year, although in some cases more visits are warranted.
  • Confidentiality: No information from counseling sessions goes into a personnel file, to a supervisor or into a medical record, unless requested by the person receiving counseling, who must sign a written release. Children may speak with a counselor without having a parent present.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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