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chicago1CHICAGO, Ill. – “EAP Innovation: Soaring on the Winds of Change” was the theme at EAPA’s 2016 World EAP Conference, held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Some of the highlights will be posted on this blog. Watch for more highlights and articles in future issues of the Journal of Employee Assistance (JEA) and Employee Assistance Report (EAR) – see http://www.eapassn.org and the “Employee Assistance Professionals” tab at http://www.impact-publications.com respectively.

DAY ONE – “Starting, Selling, and Growing an EAP” was presented by Marina London, LCSW, CEAP, Manager, Web Services with EAPA, and Michael Klaybor, Ed.D., CEAP, psychotherapist with The Lovett Center. This extensive training covered every aspect of building and growing an EAP, including staffing, marketing, selling, implementing, and nurturing a fledgling program.

The annual Chapter and Branch and Leader Development session was expanded this year. Run by the EAPA Board of Directors, the session featured “Leading a Volunteer Organization” by Steve Smith with Rosecrance Health Network. Finding enough volunteers can be a real challenge for any organization, Smith said. “You need ‘job descriptions’ to find out where they fit. You need a consistent way of training, which creates greater buy-in, what do YOU want to do?” Smith noted. Success stories from EAPA Chapter and Branch Leaders, and award presentations, were other highlights.

Day One concluded with the always popular EAPA Expo Grand Opening Reception (formerly known as the EAPA Marketplace Reception). Some of the many vendors included: Center for Discovery, Cigna, Harting EAP (Daybreak EAP Software), and National Association to Area Agencies on Aging. Held on Halloween, the festivities also included plenty of candy and costumed attendees, including a Cat in the Hat, various ghouls, and yours truly as a Packers coach. Yes, in Bears country – daring, huh?

DAY TWO – The opening keynote, “Moving from Victim to Victor through the Power of Forgiveness” morechicagowas led by Lyndon Fitzgerald Harris, co-director with Tigg’s Pond Retreat Center. Lyndon presented groundbreaking ideas from the new science of forgiveness. “We need to create a culture of forgiveness in the workplace,” he stated. Sessions the author of this blog attended included:

High Stakes Fitness for Duty Evaluations: When Concerns of Violence Arise was led by George Vergolias, Psy.D., Associate Medical Director with R3 Continuum. Among other areas, participants learned the differences between affective and predatory violence, and how to determine when to refer for Fitness for Duty versus Threat of Violence evaluations. “Clinical judgment is often only 50%, we have to consider other factors,” he said. “Can we mitigate risk? We can’t predict, but we can manage risk factors.”

Bev Younger, Ph.D., LCSW, Clinical Associate Professor with the University of Southern California School of Social Work, presented Rapidly Diversifying EAPs: Strategizing for the Future. This session addressed the continuing diversification of internal and external EAPs, and offered strategies for adapting to accelerating change. From factories to labor policies; like the ADA, FMLA and others, to broad brush EAPs, managed care, digital delivery, and the Affordable Care Act, she pointed out that EAPs have always needed to adapt to employee needs. “Is diversity a loss of Core Technology or a necessary adaptation?” she postulated.