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conferenceCHICAGO, 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.

 MORE ON DAY THREE – Sessions the author of this blog attended included:

 The EAP Connection to Military Sexual Trauma and Campus Sexual Assaults was led by Patricia Herlihy, Ph.D., RN, CEO and founder of Rocky Mountain Research; Lauren Bloom, a grad student at the University of Maryland; and Leah Marshall, a college sexual violence prevention advisor. Herlihy said that sexual assault has a tremendous ripple effect – from the victim and survivor, to family, co-workers, friends, and even the community. “It’s not just rape, but unwanted touching, grabbing, threatening, offensive remarks, and threatening and unwelcome advances.” And yet, according to “Protect Our Defenders,” in 2014, 85% of victims did not report crimes.

Bloom pointed out that sexual violence is not just physical in nature, but also includes voyeurism, sharing intimate images, catcalling, and leering. There is a common misconception that there is something the victim could have done to prevent the assault. “There is too much onus on the individual,” she said. “Whether it’s college, the workplace, or the military, it’s difficult to acknowledge how prevalent this problem really is,” Marshall said. “This is not a women’s issue or a men’s issue, it’s a human issue,” she stressed. “Power and control can occur in any relationship, anyone can be a perpetrator.”

Innovations in Suicide Risk Assessment, Management, Recovery, and Grief Support, was led by Sally Spencer-Thomas and Bernie Dyme, LCSW, President and CEO, Perspectives Ltd. “A co-worker’s suicide has a deep, disturbing impact on workmates,” said Thomas. “For managers, tragedies post challenges no one covered in management school. For survivors, they feel, ‘when is the next shoe going to fall?’” “Since co-workers often have more face-to-face time than family, we need to do a better job promoting what mental health is.”

“We need to make suicide a health and safety priority,” Dyme stated. “Reduce stigma, open dialogue, promote EAP, and find champions willing to tell their stories. Encourage talk about mental health and determine if and how to make accommodations for those with mental health conditions and issues.”

Understanding the Changing Latino Demographic and Diverse Latino Cultures, was presented by Gerardo Canul, Ph.D., behavioral health consultant with GK Partners in Wellness. The growth in the Latino population in the U.S. requires EAPs to have a plan of action in order to offer effective EA services. “It’s important to understand core cultural Latino values and beliefs,” Canul explained. For instance, he noted that Latinos typically have a philosophy of collectivism versus individualistic beliefs. “The value of being a member of a community of family takes priority to individualism. Cooperation is valued over competitiveness.”

DAY FOUR – The last day of the conference featured a president’s breakfast in which 151209160356-willis-tower-chicago-exlarge-169EAPA President Lucy Henry and President-Elect Tamara Cagney addressed the audience. Cagney offered her vision for the EA field in a well-received address, and the incoming Board of Directors was also installed.

In addition to the breakfast (as opposed to a luncheon in past years), also unique was Creating a United Vision for the EAP Field. Participants included organizational EA presidents Jeffrey Gorter, MSW, National Behavioral Consortium; Kaoru Ichikawa, Ph.D., CEAP, Asia Pacific Employee Assistance Roundtable; Judy Plotkin, MSW, Employee Assistance Society of North America; and Igor Moll, MWO, Employee Assistance European Forum.

chicago3PHOTOS: Top (not actual conference attendees); above right, the impressive Willis Tower, site of this year’s Chestnut Global Partners‘ reception (99th floor). Left: As part of our sightseeing ventures, my wife went out on the Willis Tower skydeck, as depicted here with other tourists. Not me, the safe confines of a full-fledged floor (99th) was plenty for me with my fear of heights!