PHOENIX, Ariz. – “EAP Heats Up: Flourishing into the Future,” was the theme at the Annual World DSCF0129EAP Conference, held Oct. 16-19 at the Arizona Biltmore.

DAY THREE – The third day of the conference began with a keynote address, “The Future of Crisis Response: What Works, What Hurts” by Jeffrey Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell developed the “Critical Incident Stress Management” crisis intervention tool, more commonly referred to as the “Mitchell Model.” Mitchell provided his unique perspective into the future of workplace crisis response.

Breakout sessions I attended were:

There wasn’t a chair to be had at the informative session, “The Cutting Edge: Two Research Studies on the Current State of EAPs,” moderated by Bernie McCann, and presented by Dirk Antonissen, Stan Granberry, and Manuel Somner. The presentation featured results of two privately funded studies by the Employee Assistance Research Foundation, one undertaken by ISW Limits, and the other by the National Behavioral Consortium (NBC).

Digital Intervention Supporting Expats: Helping Anytime, Anywhere, was led by Paul Wittes and Barbara Veder with Shepell.fgi. The focus on the session was on addressing: how can organizations use digital technology to enhance the probability for success on international assignments?

The Biggest Little Untapped Market: EAP Practice with Small Businesses, was presented by Kate Aronoff, Maureen Casey, and Chris Knoepke with Peer Assistance Services. Small businesses are gaining in prominence and importance in the U.S. labor market, and the presenters offered practical advice on how to help EAP better tap into that market.

PICT0195 - mike and maria lundWhile attending “formal” sessions is certainly useful at most any conference, the importance of more informal learning, networking – and just plain fun – can’t be overlooked either! Chestnut Global Partners ( reception at the Wrigley Mansion certainly met those criteria! Pictured with yours truly is Maria Lund, president and COO of First Sun EAP in Columbia, SC. Maria also chairs the communications panel that I work with to plan content for the Journal of Employee Assistance (JEA).

DAY FOUR – EAPA’s annual World EAP Conference wrapped up its last morning with its annual fun run/walk, keynote from Mark Attridge on the business value of EAP, breakout sessions, and the annual awards luncheon and address from EAPA President Steven Haught.

Afternoon “super sessions” (two hours as opposed to one hour) included a distinguished panel of tech-savvy professionals – including Marina London and Barb Veder – who discussed what’s next in terms of social media, online technologies and apps; and a multi-cultural view of EAP services offered by Jenny Espinoza, Dirk Antonissen and others.

Last, but certainly not least, attendees got a chance to relax and enjoy a dinner concert by 3722120449_writing_xlargeaward-winning composer Paul Williams, writer of pop classics such as “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” and “Old-Fashioned Love Song.” Paul also told the audience an inspiring tale of how he overcame his own alcohol and drug addiction. Now age 73, he said he’s been sober for 23 years!

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Orlando! Congrats to EAPA for another job well done!

Watch for more conference highlights and articles in future issues of the Journal of Employee Assistance and Employee Assistance Report (see and “Employee Assistance Professionals” tab at respectively).