What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

Published on: 21 May 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Bisma Anwar, LMHC
What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are a valuable resource for both employees and employers. EAP services are funded by employers to provide a confidential way for employees to get guidance on personal or professional life matters. Services can include things like counseling, work/life balance programs, financial aid, and even legal advice. EAPs are now more convenient than ever, with a plethora of online therapy options included to help employees improve their mental health. 

By utilizing the resources provided by the EAP, both employees and employers can benefit from improvements in mental health whether it be due to stress, relationship issues, being overwhelmed at work, or other workplace issues. In turn, this will lead to increased productivity, work performance, and overall well being. 

Learn why an estimated 79% of employers offer EAP programs, and how you can start or take advantage of one in your workplace. 

How Does an EAP Work?

An EAP is essentially a workplace initiative that offers employees confidential, professional aid for personal and work-related issues. By providing access to counseling services, financial resources, legal advice, and other forms of support, EAPs can help improve: 

  • Employee health
  • Productivity
  • Morale
  • Engagement

What types of benefits do they offer? The main objective of an EAP is to proactively deal with life and health issues before they become too disruptive. 

When employees have prompt, accessible, and convenient access to support and mental healthcare, experts, life coaches, and other providers, they can tackle virtually any problem quickly, before it has a chance to take a toll on job performance or quality of life.

What’s Included in an EAP?

Employer-funded assistance programs offer extensive resources for employees and their families to address concerns and facilitate well-being. 

EAPs might include things like:

  • Employee education
  • Individual assessments
  • Organizational assessments
  • Management consultation
  • In-person or online therapy
  • Referrals to treatment
  • Short-term counseling sessions
  • Mental health counseling to combat depression and anxiety 
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment
  • Financial guidance
  • Legal advice
  • Family/relationship coaching
  • Nutrition education
  • Career development opportunities
  • Stress management strategies
  • Employee wellness activities like yoga classes or mindfulness training courses
  • 24-hour crisis intervention hotlines

*Note: Services can vary — plans may not include everything here, or they may offer additional benefits not listed. 

Getting Started with EAPs

EAPs are designed to be user-friendly, easy to implement, and, best of all, simple to access. Most companies provide employees with a wide range of services through an Employee Assistance Program.  

How to use EAP benefits as an employee

To start taking advantage of your Employee Assistance Program, follow the steps here. 

  1. Understand your benefits: Contact your employer’s human resources department or benefits office to ask about what benefits you’re entitled to. As an employee, it’s important to understand the benefits and services that are included in your EAP program. This might mean access to mental health services like counseling and therapy, financial planning assistance, legal advice, and more.
  2. Contact your program administrator: Once you know what benefits are available through your EAP program, contact the administrator for further information about how to use them. Once you have the details, take advantage of them to maximize your EAP program.
  3. Ask about telehealth options: Many EAPs provide telehealth facilities, enabling personnel to access a mental health professional remotely from their residence or workplace during regular business hours, without having to take time away from work for an appointment. Talkspace is one example of a provider that offers online therapy through many EAPs across the country, so check with your employer if they have this option available as part of your plan.
  4. Take advantage of your plan: Most employers will also provide additional resources such as webinars and educational materials that may help you better manage stress levels at work or home life balance issues that come up from time-to-time. It’s important to use these resources when needed for them to be effective tools in helping maintain good overall wellness habits.

Note that some employers may require pre-authorization before you can access certain services, so be sure to ask about any potential restrictions beforehand so there won’t be any surprises down the line when trying to use your benefits package.

How to start an EAP for your company 

If you’re interested in setting up an EAP within your organization, start by researching different vendors that offer EAP programs — look into things like cost structures, coverage options, customer reviews, and more.  

After narrowing down which vendor seems most suited to meeting all your needs, contact them directly so further discussions can occur about exactly how everything should operate going forward. 

To start an EAP for your company, complete the following steps:

  1. Determine what’s required or needed: Consider what sort of aid you’ll offer. Are there any special requirements or considerations for the program? Look for a range of services tailored to meet the individual needs of your employees.
  2. Research EAP providers: Once you have determined what services your business needs, it’s time to start researching EAP providers. Look into their qualifications and experience with providing Employee Assistance Programs that fit the size and scope of your organization. Weigh cost, customer service responsiveness, and the resources accessible when picking the most appropriate partner for your organization.
  3. Set up your program: After selecting an EAP provider, you’ll want to set up the program correctly from the beginning, so employees understand how to access services if they need them in the future. For example, make sure everyone knows about available benefits through posters around the office or emails sent out at regular intervals throughout the year, reminding employees about available resources if needed. 

Additionally, create clear policies regarding confidentiality procedures related to using these types of services so everyone feels comfortable participating in confidential conversations without fear of repercussions from management or coworkers.

  1. Monitor usage: It’s also important to monitor usage levels over time so you can adjust accordingly if necessary. Sometimes this means discontinuing certain programs that employees may not use enough to justify their cost. 

Don’t forget to measure effectiveness by collecting feedback from participants whenever possible. This will help ensure any money spent on an EAP is not wasted, and is helping improve morale, job satisfaction, and general well-being.

Online Therapy with Talkspace Through EAPs

Employee assistance programs offer a wealth of benefits to businesses — and their employees — as an added service that prioritizes and enhances mental health. 

Including Talkspace’s online talk therapy services for mental health support within an EAP plan means members have access to personalized treatment from licensed therapists and psychiatrists, without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. This type of convenient counseling can help employees find help for mental health conditions, learn how to avoid burnout, and encourage overall employee wellness.  


  1. Published by Statista Research Department, 6 J. Share of employers offering employee assistance programs 2019. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/742969/share-of-employers-offering-employee-assistance-programs/. Published July 6, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2023. 

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

You May Also Like

Talkspace mental health services