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CHICAGO, Ill. – “EAP Innovation: Soaring on the Winds of Change” was the theme at EAPA’s 2016 World morechicagoEAP Conference, held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

DAY THREE – Wednesday’s keynote address was something quite different from the norm: short, engaging EAP TALKS (think TED Talks) about current EA topics from Jeff Harris, MFT, CEAP, Program Manager, EAP & WorkLife Services, University of Southern California; Marina London, Web Services, EAPA; Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., President & CEO, Carson J Spencer Foundation; and Mark Attridge, Ph.D., President, Attridge Consulting.

Harris spoke on how EAP practitioners can build credibility as consultants. “Make it your business to know their business, including micro-cultures,” he explained. “Trust is everything. Deliver consistent, good results and don’t challenge a manager in front of a team. Get periodic feedback, and follow up.”

London posed the question, “Is EAP ‘Tech Proof?’” She said that after a recent trip to Las Vegas, it dawned on her that certain things in Vegas had not changed even though she hadn’t been there in decades. They included scantily clad women, slot machines, circus shows, and magic acts.

Along similar lines, in spite of today’s ever-changing technological innovations, London maintained that certain aspects of society, and EAP, will remain “tech proof.” For instance: there will still be a need for human contact, and there will still be a focus on mental health. “The very act of helping is tech proof,” she said.

dark_roomSpencer-Thomas discussed how EAPs can be shining lights of hope in the social movement of suicide prevention. She concluded her compelling talk by having the lights turned off. Then she asked audience members who’ve been affected by suicide – first indirectly, and then directly – to hold up their turned-on cell phones. As the room went from dark to heavily lit, it was apparent what a terrible thing being depressed, in the dark, with no idea where to turn is, and how MANY of us have been impacted by this disturbing trend.

“No one should die in isolation and despair,” she said.

Attridge led a talk on how EA professionals can better integrate EAP into other workplace programs. The effort is worthwhile because EAPs can enhance their business value by creating connections with other health and benefit programs within the same organization. He also pointed out that he writes a column on this topic, “Integration Insights” for the Journal of Employee Assistance.

THURSDAY: This series on EAPA’s 2016 World EAP Conference concludes with day three sessions the author of this blog attended, and a day four wrap-up.