Journal of Employee Assistance Vol.52 No.4 4thQtr2022

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4th Quarter 2022 | VOL. 52 NO. 4

The magazine of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association

Empowering Employers To Address Loneliness In The Workforce |Page 10


Facilitate Conflict Resolution

Seeking Peace Amidst Polarization

Thriving as a Newcomer to EAP

Page 14

Page 24

Page 28


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contents EAPA Mission Statement

4TH Quarter 2022 | VOL. 52 NO. 4

cover story


Empowering Employers to Address Loneliness in the Workforce

| By Anne M. Bowers, Ph.D. and Stuart L. Lustig, M.D., M.P.H.



Empowering Managers to Facilitate Conflict Resolution

| By Jeffrey Harris


Highlighting Updates to EAPA

| By Julie Fabsik-Swarts, MS, CFRE, CAP, CEO, Employee Assistance Professionals Association



Dancing in the Minefield: Seeking Peace Amidst Polarization

| By Jeff Gorter, MSW, LCSW


A Roadmap for Thriving as a Newcomer to the Employee Assistance Profession

| By Janice E. Harewood, Ph.D. and Karis L. McClammy, Psy.D.


Reframing the Conversation: Embracing Workplace Conflict Through a DEIB Lens

To promote the highest standards of practice and the continuing development of employee assistance professionals and programs. The Journal of Employee Assistance (ISSN 1544-0893) is published quarterly for $13 per year (from the annual membership fee) by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, 4350 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 740, Arlington, VA 22203. Phone: (703) 387-1000. Postage for periodicals is paid at Arlington, VA, and other offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Journal of Employee Assistance, EAPA, 4350 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 740, Arlington, VA 22203. Persons interested in submitting articles should contact a member of the EAPA Communications Advisory Panel (see page 4) or the Editor, Maria Lund, by calling (803) 5302748 or sending an e-mail to journal@eapassn. org. To advertise in the Journal of Employee Assistance, contact The JEA is published only in digital format since 1st Quarter 2019. Send requests for reprints of issues published BEFORE 2019 to Rosemary Byrne at ©2022 by The Employee Assistance Professionals Association, Inc. Reproduction without written permission is expressly prohibited. Publication of signed articles does not constitute endorsement of personal views of authors. Editor: Maria Lund Development Manager: Boyd Scoggins Designer: Varnau Creative Group

| By Mary Fosten-English, LMFT, CEAP and Bryan McNutt, Ph.D., LMFT, CEAP

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frontpage Easing Conflict and Division in the Workplace | By Andrea Lardani and Bernie McCann, PhD, CEAP


hile some have referred to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global social disturbances as a “great equalizer,” as the disease has evolved, it has become apparent that a host of other persistent political, social and economic structural inequalities have been illuminated. The Coronavirus may not discriminate, but humanity and its institutions do. These multiple crises have revealed new inequities and even exacerbated existing forms of exclusion and inequality worldwide. High levels of polarization, xenophobia and increasing deficits of trust in politicians and political institutions evidence the extent of structural disruption in societies. The workplace has certainly not been immune from such negative effects; on the contrary, work environments clearly reflect how these global health and social crises have increased conflict and heightened divisions, which is the reoccurring theme in this issue of the Journal of Employee Assistance. The events of the past few years have also highlighted the resourcefulness, creativity, capacities, cohesion and resilience with which ordinary people, their workplaces and communities have responded. The 4th quarter 2022 JEA offers a variety of viewpoints and discussions for EA professionals to join with employers to create resilient responses to address conflict and division in the workplace. 4 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Researchers Anne Bowers and Stuart Lustig authored this issue’s cover story, highlighting their study findings regarding how employers can support social and emotional health to lead to greater workforce engagement, employee retention and business performance by promoting practices that help alleviate loneliness and a stronger sense of community. In another feature related to this issue’s theme, Mary Fosten-English and Bryan McNutt introduce the benefits of using a DEIB lens (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) in navigating workplace conflict through the application of the EMBRACE model of mediation. Jeffrey Harris extends the theme of conflict resolution in an article that outlines issues and shares tips for consulting with managers seeking to deal effectively with workplace conflict. In Dancing in the Minefield: Seeking Peace Amidst Polarization, frequent contributor Jeff Gorter proposes that EA professionals can foster better workplace communication in these polarized moments by understanding and defusing anger and misunderstanding while guiding and supporting connections rooted in dignity and respect. As they so eloquently state, “…As EA professionals, we are at the forefront of bringing hope, compassion and understanding…” and reminding us that as a profession, EAPs have always been engaged in assisting the oppressed or forgotten, bringing resources to the underserved and a voice to those being silenced. In the Legal Column Voicing Your Values: When Are You Protected? Heather Mogden shares examples of cases presented before the U.S. Courts of Appeals to show possible legal tensions that may occur between EA professionals and employers when supporting employees. In addition, in these pages, you will find a thoughtful article on A Roadmap for Thriving as a Newcomer to the Employee Assistance Profession and a summary article, Highlighting Updates to EAPA by Julie Fabsik-Swarts. From the Employee Assistance Certification Commission, a progress report on the now one-year-old CEAP® refresh, plus an exciting new product, the CEAP® Global which replaces the previous CEAP®-I (International version). Many of us are preparing to gather together for our first in-person (and newly named) EAPA Institute and Expo in three years, October 7-9, 2022, at the Hilton Norfolk The Main in Norfolk, Virginia. We wish all those who are planning to join us safe travels, and to those unable to be there, perhaps next year!

EAPA Communications Advisory Panel Andrea Lardani, Co-chair – Buenos Aires, ARG

Bernie McCann, Co-chair – Rickville, MD

Mark Attridge – Minneapolis, MN

Nancy Board – Seattle, WA

Daniel Boissonneault – Hamden, CT

Tamara Cagney – Discovery Bay, CA

Peizhong Li – Beijing, China

Elena Sánchez Escobar – Madrid, Spain

Radhi Vandayar – Johannesburg, South Africa

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spotlightoneacc Changing Faces of the CEAP® Certification | By Ian Quamina, PhD, CEAP

This October marks the return of our in-person annual EAPA Conference after a two-year hiatus and the first anniversary of the ‘CEAP® Refresh,’ our new CEAP® certification course that replaced our traditional CEAP® exam. We officially said goodbye to the CEAP® exam aka ‘CEAP® Legacy’ this past June, and this October we will launch the ‘CEAP® Global’ which replaces the traditional CEAP®-I (International version). With all these changes, it’s an excellent opportunity for the EACC to spotlight what has remained the same and what improvements we have made to our CEAP® certification process. CEAP® Legacy and CEAP®-I

CEAP® Refresh


The only credential that demonstrates knowledge, experience, and expertise across the entire EAP body of knowledge.

(soon to be referred to as just ‘CEAP’) The only credential that demonstrates knowledge, experience, and expertise across the entire EAP body of knowledge. Additionally, it is a self-directed online modularbased course with several pathways to CEAP® certification.


First CEAP® Exam: 1987

Launched in October 2021.

The only credential that demonstrates knowledge, experience, and expertise across the entire EAP body of knowledge. Additionally, it is a self-directed online modular-based course with several pathways to CEAP® certification. Launches in October 2022.


Last CEAP® Exam: June/July 2022. Candidate Registration Fee - $125 EAPA Member/$150 Non-Member

Candidate Registration Fee - $125 EAPA Member/$150 NonMember

Candidate Registration Fee - $125 EAPA Member/$150 Non-Member

Exam Fees - $295 EAPA Member/$395 Non-Member

Learning Module Fees - $295 EAPA Member/$395 NonMember

Learning Module Fees - $295 EAPA Member/$395 Non-Member

3-Year Activation Fee

3-Year Activation Fee

3-Year Activation Fee

$225 EAPA Member/$325 NonMember

$225 EAPA Member/$325 NonMember

$225 EAPA Member/$325 Non-Member


CEAP® Global

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The following categories of persons can apply for CEAP® certification: - Masters with Experience - Masters with No Experience

Any of the following categories of persons can apply for CEAP® certification: - Masters with Experience - No Masters with Experience - Masters with No Experience - All Other Candidates


Three years in which to complete the CEAP® certification process (pre-requisites and documentation for verification).

Three years in which to complete the CEAP® certification process (pre-requisites, post-requisites, and documentation for verification).


Requirements prior to sitting for the CEAP® exam: - 20 or 60 PDHs (dependent on pathway) across three knowledge domains. - 3-hour CEAP® orientation. - 2-hour CEAP® ethics course. - EAP work experience.

20 PDHs across three domains of knowledge obtained from completion of the five learning modules, which include a 4-hour ethics module. Additionally, up to 40 domainspecific PDH requirements depending on the selected pathway.


None. Exam questions only.

Some pathways (with no EA Experience) will designate the candidate as a CEAP® intern and require post-module requirements such as obtaining a minimum of 500 hours of EA work experience, including mentorship hours.

Delivery Method

In-person test-site computer or a paper-based exam.

Self-paced online modular-based course taken at a remote location of your choosing.

Re-take Options

Retake after 90 days of initial failure. Must be complete within the 3-year candidacy period. Four hours to complete the exam.

Two attempts within 90 days of initial start. Must be completed within the 3-year candidacy period. Learning modules are self-paced and can be started at any time within the candidacy, but once started, they must be completed within 90 days. Each learning module averages 4 hours to complete plus 45 minutes to complete each end-of-module assessment.

Length and Duration

Any of the following categories of persons can apply for CEAP® certification: - Masters with Experience - No Masters with Experience - Masters with No Experience - All Other Candidates Three years in which to complete the CEAP® certification process (pre-requisites, postrequisites, and documentation for verification). 20 PDHs across three domains of knowledge obtained from completion of the five learning modules, which include a 4-hour ethics module. Additionally, up to 40 domain-specific PDH requirements depending on the selected pathway. Some pathways (with no EA Experience) will designate the candidate as a CEAP® intern and require postmodule requirements such as obtaining a minimum of 500 hours of EA work experience, including mentorship hours. Self-paced online modularbased course taken at a remote location of your choosing. Two attempts within 90 days of initial start. Must be completed within the 3-year candidacy period. Learning modules are selfpaced and can be started at any time within the candidacy, but once started, they must be completed within 90 days. Each learning module averages 4 hours to complete plus 45 minutes to complete each end-of-module assessment.

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spotlightoneacc Content and PDHs


Domain Knowledge Language Translation


Initial & Recertification Mentorship Requirement

None. Exam questions only.

20 PDHs across three domains of knowledge obtained from completion of five learning modules which includes a 4-hour ethics module. These five learning modules deliver course content (articles, videos, case studies, etc.) in a way that gives information that covers the length and breadth of the EA field.

20 PDHs across three domains of knowledge obtained from completion of five learning modules which includes a 4-hour ethics module. These five learning modules deliver course content (articles, videos, case studies, etc.) in a way that gives information that covers the length and breadth of the EA field. Some international versions will have a sixth module covering EA practice specific to that country/region. Two hundred scored items One hundred fifty scored items One hundred fifty scored (CEAP® Legacy) and 155 scored spread over the five learning moditems spread over the five items (CEAP®-I). All exam ules (30 items per module) devellearning modules (30 items questions were developed and oped and validated based on the per module) developed and validated based on the three EA three EA Domains. A pass mark of validated based on the three Domains. A pass mark of 75% 80% or higher for each end-of-mod- EA Domains. A pass mark of or higher was required. ule assessment must be obtained. 80% or higher for each endof-module assessment must be obtained. No assessment questions in the sixth module for the international versions. Exam questions covered the Learning modules, content, and as- Learning modules, content, three domains. sessment questions cover the three and assessment questions cover the three domains. domains. The English version of the exam US version (geared towards North The non-US version is in is translated into Japanese and American candidates only). English and translated into Mandarin. Japanese and Mandarin. Talks are in the works for a Spanish translation. Private study groups, classes EAPA’s Tips to Success Guide EAPA’s Tips to Success Guide and/or purchase of EAPA (replaces the CEAP® Study Guide). (replaces the CEAP® Study CEAP® Study Guide. Additionally, candidates should Guide). Additionally, candidates review current/past conferences and should review current/past conJEA articles, attend chapter/branch ferences and JEA articles, attend meetings/training, attend group chapter/branch meetings/trainmentorships and seek resource ing, attend group mentorships information from the EA Archive. and seek resource information from the EA Archive. Taken for both initial and reTaken for both initial and re-certifi- Taken for both initial and recertification. cation. certification. None (Exam questions only). Group mentorship is a post-module Group mentorship is a postrequirement for those designated as module requirement for those CEAP® interns. designated as CEAP® interns.

The EACC has played a crucial role in compiling standards, processes and content to create learning modules that expand knowledge and skills by providing candidates with new and updated industry information, techniques and best practices. Now they have established a process that will allow a less burdensome path to certification without diluting the value of the CEAP® credential. For more information on the CEAP® certification process, please visit the EAPA website at or email the EACC at Ian B. Quamina, PhD, CEAP, is a 2020 EAPA President’s Award of Service recipient and an EA Digital Archive Ambassador who holds a PhD in Organizational Leadership with specialization in Human Resource Development and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree with a specialization in EAP. He may be contacted at

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Thank You! I want to take a moment to thank all of the individuals who helped make the EAPA Norfolk Institute and EXPO 2022 such a success! First and foremost, join me in thanking the Meetings Committee led by President Elect, Daryl Joseph. Their ongoing contribution to all of the educational programming at EAPA is priceless. Secondly, I want to thank.both the EAPA Board of Directors and the EACC. EAPA greatly appreciates all of the volunteer hours and dedication they exhibit. I would like to thank all of the speakers at the EAPA conference. From individual workshops to Keynote, Dr. Casey Chosewood and Plenary, Tramaine El-Amin. And no thank you would be complete without a HUGE THANKS to staff-especially Julie Rochester and Larnita Day. We have locked in the 2023 conference in Portland, OR! Save the dates of Oct 20-22, 2023. Have a great end to 2022. I look forward to an exciting new year. Warmly, Julie Fabsik-Swarts EAPA CEO

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coverstory Empowering Employers to Address Loneliness in the Workforce

| By Stuart L. Lustig, M.D., M.P.H. and Anne M. Bowers, Ph.D.


ven before the COVID-19 pandemic, we lived in paradoxical times: while many individuals reported feeling more connected than ever, many also reported feeling lonelier than ever. Three in five adults reported feelings of loneliness. These feelings of loneliness, as well as stress, anxiety, and depression, negatively impact people’s desire and ability to engage at home and at work. An estimated 62% of the adult workforce consider themselves lonely, and the impact on business performance and the organization’s bottom line is significant. Lonely employees have higher rates of absenteeism, which costs 10 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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employers more than $154 billion annually, and are twice as likely to quit, according to our recent study conducted for Cigna Corporation and Evernorth (Cigna’s health services business) and published in the Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance. The study provides a deeper look at the costs of loneliness and opportunities for employers to support their workers, now and in the future. It is based on an Ipsos survey commissioned by Cigna of nearly 6,000 working adults across the United States conducted online from July to August 2019. With so much cultural and corporate attention being paid to mental health, now is the time for employers to re-examine their thinking and take bold actions to reverse troubling mental health trends. Today’s opportunity for leaders is to see workforce loneliness as an organizational challenge and shared responsibility rather than an individual’s issue to solve independently. The Impact of Lonely Workers on Employers Is Significant Our study results indicate that worker loneliness significantly contributes to job withdrawal behavior, including increased absenteeism and attrition, impacting business performance.

With so much cultural and corporate attention being paid to mental health, now is the time for employers to re-examine their thinking and take bold actions to reverse troubling mental health trends.

Absenteeism: Compared to other employees surveyed, lonely employees (scores ≥43, as measured using the UCLA Loneliness Scale) are five times as likely to miss a work day due to stress. Lonely workers reported higher rates of stress-related absenteeism than non-lonely workers and missed approximately 5.7 additional work days per year, with an estimated annual cost of more than $154 billion. Attrition: Lonely workers expressed a greater intention to leave their jobs within the next 12 months and were nearly twice as likely to quit than non-lonely workers. This intent was reported by about 57% of lonely workers surveyed, which equates to an estimated 55 million workers nationwide. Given that the average U.S. cost of replacing an employee ranges from one-half to two times the employee’s salary, reducing the potential for worker loneliness could help employers prevent sizable potential losses. Organizational Action: Develop Five Job and Personal Resources to Help Alleviate Employee Loneliness There are tangible ways employers can begin reducing loneliness and increasing connection among their workforce. Proactively developing key employee job and personal resources can help decrease loneliness and improve employee emotional well-being, engagement, and retention. Job-related resources are key individuals (such as coworkers and managers), tools, and organizational policies that help engage workers dealing with social isolation or the emotional strain of loneliness; they include social companionship, good work-life balance, and satisfaction with communication at work. On the other hand, personal resources represent a person’s internal strategies for approaching and coping with loneliness-related stress, such as strong emotional resilience and a sense of connectivity and inclusion at work. These resources help mitigate loneliness by promoting employee engagement and psychosocial health. Job-Related Resources: 1. Social companionship: ability to meet new people and make friends at work; relating to and socializing with colleagues. 2. Work-life balance: being able to leave work at work without it spilling over into personal life. 3. Satisfaction with communication at work: including conversations and meetings (in-person, phone, and video conference), email and chat messages, and business-related social media posts. 11 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


coverstory Personal Resources: 4. Resilience: the ability to recover quickly from challenging situations; finding and leveraging other available resources to gain meaningful interpersonal engagement and social support at work. 5. Personal connectivity: having a low perception of social alienation; feeling free to be their authentic self at work. The Cigna/Evernorth study highlights these critical points of focus to address loneliness in the workplace to enhance employee engagement and reduce job withdrawal. Workers who reported experiencing these factors were up to 53% less likely to be lonely than other employees. Creating Connectivity within the Workforce Employers have an opportunity to address workforce loneliness by helping employees build and enhance meaningful connections with each other, which our previous research found to be the most potent protector against loneliness. Additionally, strategies that help foster greater workforce resilience and improved emotional wellbeing are valuable. For example, flexible working schedules and “email blackout periods” (e.g., from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.) can help promote better work-life balance. Managers at every level of an organization can also initiate discussions with each team member about what a healthy work-life balance would feel like for them. Organizations can also strengthen connectivity among remote and hybrid workers through regular check-ins and virtual team-building activities. Employers can make it easy to meet new coworkers, facilitate coworker interactions, and sponsor virtual social activities that encourage employees to strengthen coworker relationships and promote a culture of belonging. Another way to strengthen a sense of workforce belonging is for employers to support a more inclusive workplace. One effective means is to encourage the formation of employee resource groups (ERGs) in which members

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While there is no quick fix or one-sizefits-all approach for mitigating loneliness, organizations may want to consider a multi-phased approach to such workforce interventions.

share a common characteristic, including gender, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, or are allied with the group’s interest or cause. ERGs can provide a forum for networking and career development and empower individual employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas with the organization to further business innovation. These strategies can help employees feel more connected to their colleagues and more comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work, increasing their commitment to their job. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and employers can also help reduce employees’ loneliness and positively impact workforces and the business community. For example, EA practitioners offer management consultation and training services to assist managers in strengthening teams and fostering a culture of positive work relationships. EAP activities may include incorporating loneliness assessment questions into the intake assessment or as part of the counseling process, implementing targeted workforce interventions, and providing employee seminars highlighting strategies and opportunities to build and grow meaningful connections at work. While there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all approach for mitigating loneliness, organizations may want to consider a multi-phased approach to such workforce interventions. Employers can begin by focusing on those most likely to be lonely – younger workers, minorities, new employees, the most junior and senior employees, and those who work remotely. Over time, by promoting company-wide practices that help alleviate loneliness and build a stronger sense of community, employers can support employees’ social and emotional health, which leads to greater workforce engagement, employee retention, and business performance. Anne M. Bowers, Ph.D., is a senior health services researcher at Evernorth. Dr. Bowers is an award-winning scholar and published author with expertise in organizational science, behavioral health, and high-need patient populations. Stuart L. Lustig, M.D., M.P.H., is the national medical executive for behavioral health at Evernorth. He engages with employer and health plan clients, provider groups, and other stakeholders about ways to address behavioral healthcare issues among their respective populations.

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featurearticle Empowering Managers to Facilitate Conflict Resolution | By Jeffrey Harris


once worked for a director of an Employee Relations unit in a Fortune 100 company. He shared with me that he felt the Employee Assistance Program would become obsolete if the company hired and trained managers with the maturity and skills to deal with “people” problems.

While his opinion revealed an oversimplification of the role of an EAP, there was a grain of truth to his statement… how many referrals to the EAP might have been unnecessary or avoided if experienced managers could thoughtfully address the needs of conflicted team members on their team? Conflict is a natural and necessary part of human interaction. Done well, conflict can be a creative and constructive process. Conflict gets a bad name from people who use aggressive or manipulative techniques to “win” at any cost. Quite often, conflict arises in a vacuum of leadership, where the manager is avoidant or absent, leading team members to squabble about how the work will get done. 14 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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A study by Consulting Psychologists Press (2008) revealed a gap between managers’ appraisal of their ability to manage conflict and the observations of the employees under them. Nearly one-third (31%) of managers feel skilled at dealing with conflict. However, slightly more than one-fifth of employees (22%) think their managers deal with conflict well. I’d like to share some thoughts with you about how to consult with a manager who seeks help with managing a conflict. Let’s start by considering the first of the eight EAP core technologies: “Consultation with, training of, and assistance to work organization leadership (managers, supervisors, and union officials) seeking to manage troubled employees, enhance the work environment, and improve employee job performance.” With the empowerment of the EAP core technology, we can use a blend of “consulting with” (solution-focused problem solving) and “training of” (developing the manager with the sharing of skills) to help managers become effective facilitators for resolving team conflict. The consulting opportunities for you might include addressing the following four themes with the manager: Depersonalizing, Finding Confidence and Courage, Seeking Understanding, and Promoting a Constructive Approach. Depersonalizing It’s not uncommon to find that the manager, who reaches out to you for help, is exasperated, if not exhausted, by their attempts to manage team conflict. The manager may start the conversation with a ‘client dump,’ hoping to hand off the conflicted employee(s) for the EAP to ‘fix.’ Inviting the manager to stay engaged with you takes some empathy and diplomacy as you help them create and execute a plan to manage the conflict on their team. I usually start with some depersonalization work for the manager, such as reframing the actions of the conflicted parties as protecting their views rather than intentionally being an irritant (obstructive, uncooperative, intense). I also try to promote curiosity in the manager to reduce the dead-ends created by discouragement. This includes queries such as “What might work here?” and “What would a successful resolution to the conflict look like? And what steps might you try to get there?” Finding Confidence and Courage Many managers are avoidant when managing team conflict for the obvious reasons that conflict may be intense, uncomfortable, intimate, vulnerable or risky. Conflicted team members may be highly emotional, manipulative or escalating. Power struggles may surface to maintain equilibrium. But a confident and seasoned manager can and will be able to manage team conflict effectively. I try to build up the manager’s confidence and courage to manage conflict by inquiring about the manager’s previous successes with conflict (using a solution-focused approach). This often begins by asking who their role models have been for managing conflict and what signature strengths they possess that they can rely upon during the process. I also remind them that they are not alone (e.g., the EAP consultant can be available for further consultation and solutions, and the manager may find encouraging support from their own manager and/or an employee relations specialist, maybe even some team building training from the organizational development department, if one exists). One model for describing conflict styles is the Thomas-Kilmann Con15 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


featurearticle You could explore with the manager whether organization might be complicit in creating the conflict… have changes in policies or re-organization created unintended inequities?

flict Mode Instrument (TKI). The tool measures how consistently and strongly the individual demonstrates the two characteristics of assertiveness and cooperativeness in their dealings with others. The model proposes five ‘styles’ based on the level of assertiveness and cooperativeness, including two ideal styles (Collaborating and Compromising) and three suboptimal styles (Avoiding, Accommodating, and Competing). To build a manager’s confidence and courage to address conflict on their team effectively, you might promote the TKI style of Collaborating. This includes a balanced, assertive style (direct, clear, engaged) while signaling openness to cooperation (open, curious, flexible), thereby demonstrating that the manager as conflict facilitator is both strong and reasonable. Seeking Understanding Often, but not always, the topic of the conflict may conceal a deeper problem beneath the surface. One hint that a deeper problem exists is a report from the manager that conflict persists even after initial attempts to resolve the conflict have temporarily seemed to work. You might prompt the manager to use their intuition or hunches to reflect on the possibility of a deeper source of conflict. Does the team fear job instability? Is one team member thought to be benefiting from favoritism? Has trust broken down around perceived unfairness? Are expectations, goals, and priorities misaligned? Is there a feeling that someone isn’t pulling their weight? Does the team experience miscommunication or a complete lack of communication (which can leave a person feeling like they are floundering)? Does a team member not know where they fit on the team? You could explore with the manager whether organization might be complicit in creating the conflict… have changes in policies or re-organization created unintended inequities? Has the company been slow to adequately fund teams that are experiencing growth, resulting in competition for resources (scarcity versus abundance)? Are other managers facing strife in their team due to an institutional issue? One consulting question that I’ve found most useful is the following: “What unmet need is perhaps being telegraphed through this conflict?” Promoting a Constructive Approach Conflict can either become destructive or constructive. Consider coaching the manager to notice the presence of 16 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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the undesirable characteristics of an ‘Affective Conflict’ and re-directing the conflicted parties towards a constructive ‘Cognitive Conflict’ approach. Let me offer a definition. ‘Affective Conflict’ includes negative or judgmental statements, personal attacks or blaming. This often results in an increase in tension and a decrease in team functioning and leads to destructive responses because it focuses on people rather than ideas. Conversely, ‘Cognitive Conflict’ uses non-judgmental or positive statements because it focuses on constructive ideas and problem-solving rather than personalities. It often occurs during periods of creativity and productivity. Your consulting approach might include helping the manager with scripting and rehearsing messages intended to extinguish Affective Conflict and re-directing the conflicted parties towards constructive dialogues found in a Cognitive Conflict approach. Some additional manager actions that contribute to establishing a constructive conflict management approach include:

Creating an atmosphere of psychological safety for the participants to speak candidly and without judgment

Using “we” language and avoiding the assignment of blame

Identifying each person’s underlying concerns

Discouraging the jump to positions to avoid deadlock

Stating the conflict as a mutual problem

Stating the problem in integrative terms: How can we do both?

Using tentative, exploratory language

Agreeing on the best solution

Bibliography If you’d like to explore more on the topic of building a manager’s skills in conflict management, here are a few books I recommend.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, by Joseph Grenny

When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, Vol. II, for Managers and Executives, by Manuel Smith

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni

Jeffrey Harris has worked in the EAP field for 28 years and has been a CEAP for 18 years. Jeff wrote 27 columns on Effective Management Consulting for the Journal of Employee Assistance and frequently presents his workshop titled Masterful Consultation. He is an independent consultant and executive coach for Uplevel Coaching + Consulting. Jeff welcomes further discussion through his email

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Voicing Your Values: When Are You Protected? | By Heather Mogden


n EA professional’s responsibility is to support employees, regardless of the professional’s personal views. Now, that doesn’t mean someone has to disregard their values to provide whatever support the employee requests. What it does mean is that in exercising their values, EA professionals must strive to ensure that their conduct doesn’t undermine the purpose and objectivity of the EA Program. On the other hand, supporting an employee—particularly when advocating for an employee experiencing discrimination— can create tension between the EA professional and the employer. How far can or should the EA professional advocate when the employer is pushing back?

Some of these questions have been presented in cases before the U.S. Courts of Appeals in deciding whether employers violated federal law when they fired EA professionals whose values differed from those of the employer or an employee. Federal case law can be a dry read, so here are the stories and lessons from two such cases—without the legalese. 18 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Walden v. The CDC1 Marcia Walden was an EAP counselor in Atlanta, Georgia, providing services to employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As part of her job, Walden provided individual counseling to members of the LGBTQ+ community, but she asserted that her religious beliefs prevented her from providing same-sex relationship counseling. Walden described herself as “a devout Christian who believes it is immoral to engage in same-sex sexual relationships.”2 Walden had an initial intake counseling session with a lesbian employee referred to only as “Jane Doe.” Doe explained to Walden that her same-sex partner of 18 years, with whom she was raising a son, forged Doe’s name in order to obtain a line of credit. Doe was upset and wondered if she could ever trust her partner again. Walden testified that during the session, “I looked at her, and I told her that I could see she was in pain, and I wanted to make sure she got help. But after hearing what she had to say, based on my personal values, I recognized I was not the best counselor for her. . . my personal values would interfere with our client/therapist relationship, and that wasn’t fair to her.”3 Walden referred her to another counselor. Doe filed a complaint, saying she felt “judged and condemned” by Walden’s explanation that her personal values conflicted with Doe’s lifestyle, even though Walden didn’t specifically mention her religion during that conversation. In light of Doe’s complaint, Walden’s supervisor suggested that if the situation arose again, Walden should say that she was inexperienced in relationship counseling. Walden repeatedly refused his suggestion, saying it would be dishonest not to disclose that the referral was motivated by her religious beliefs. But while Walden’s beliefs may have required her to make a referral, she admitted that her beliefs did not require her to disclose the reason—to her, that part was just “about honesty.” News of the incident and Walden’s refusal to consider a different approach made it to the managers and directors of the EAP. Everyone agreed that referrals are necessary when counselors confront a religiously-based conflict, but they also agreed that Walden’s approach undermined the EAP’s effectiveness because the employee seeking assistance “was made to feel worse.”4 One of the directors criticized Walden’s approach, saying: “it’s just not appropriate in that very vulnerable setting when patients may be coming to you at their neediest time.”5 Walden was terminated, and she sued the CDC for violating her rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act6. The trial court dismissed Walden’s claims, and the appellate court agreed, finding that Walden was not terminated because of her religious beliefs or her related need to refer to a colleague matters involving same-sex relationships. Practical Takeaways: • When an EA counselor’s personal values or religious beliefs would interfere with the therapist/client relationship, it is perfectly appropriate to refer the employee to another counselor. The right to do so is protected by various anti-discrimination laws. •

Where an EA counselor’s personal values or religious beliefs require them to refer certain matters to another counselor, their obligation remains to serve the employee. Therefore, any mention of the conflict of values— whatever it may be—is probably unnecessary and should be avoided.

DeMasters v. Carilion Clinic7 Neil DeMasters was an EAP consultant for Roanoke, Virginia-based Carilion Clinic. DeMasters was asked to consult with an employee referred to only as “John Doe.” Doe reported to DeMasters that his manager had been 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Walden v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 669 F.3d 1277 (11th Cir. 2012). Id. at 1280. Id. at 1281. Id. at 1282. Id. at 1286. Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq. DeMasters v. Carilion Clinic, 796 F.3d 409 (4th Cir. 2015).

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legallines sexually harassing him for several months and masturbated in front of him twice on hospital grounds.8 DeMasters worked with Doe to report the harassment and facilitate the investigation. Doe signed a release form authorizing DeMasters to communicate with the Human Resources department on his behalf. Once the employer began its investigation, it fired Doe’s harasser.9 Despite instructions that the harasser was never allowed back on hospital property, Doe’s department director allowed him to return to collect his personal belongings. Afterward, Doe met with DeMasters again and told him the director’s conduct was part of an increasing hostility Doe faced from coworkers that were friends with the harasser. After conferring with his EAP colleagues, DeMasters offered to coach the HR department on handling Doe’s concerns and intervening to stop the hostile behavior. The HR representative declined, saying he would talk to Doe’s department director. Doe reported to DeMasters that the hostility was worsening, and DeMasters told Doe he believed the employer was mishandling his complaints. DeMasters made the same comment to the HR manager.10 Two years later, DeMasters learned that Doe had filed a sexual harassment claim against the employer under Title VII, and a settlement agreement was reached only a few weeks earlier. DeMasters was called into a meeting with several managers, including the vice president of HR, the EAP department director, and corporate counsel. When DeMasters asked if he could have an attorney present, he was told he’d be terminated for insubordination if he persisted. DeMasters was grilled on his interactions with Doe, and specifically whether he told Doe that what happened to him was sexual harassment. DeMasters admitted what he said, and the managers blamed him for not taking “the pro-employer side.”11 The employer sent DeMasters a termination letter a couple of days later, explaining that DeMasters had “failed to perform or act in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of [the employer].”12 The EAP director sent DeMasters a separate letter explaining that he was being fired because he “made statements that could reasonably have led [Doe] to conclude that he should file suit against [the employer]”; he “failed to perform or act in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of [the employer]”; he “made multiple statements that were contrary to [the employer’s] best interests and that required disciplinary action”; and he “failed to protect [the employer].”13 The letter further stated that the entire EAP operation “was at risk for the actions of one consultant.”14 DeMasters sued the employer for violation of Title VII’s anti-retaliation provisions, including the Opposition Clause, which forbids retaliation against an employee who opposed an unlawful employment practice.15 The employer asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that DeMasters didn’t personally oppose the harassment Doe experienced; he merely voiced Doe’s opposition. DeMasters’ own complaints were about how the employer handled the matter, and that was not itself an unlawful employment practice under Title VII. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claims, but the appellate court reversed. In the context of Title VII, the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted the broad dictionary definition of “oppose” to conclude that “when an employee communicates to her employer a belief that the employer has engaged in a form of employment discrimination, that communication virtually always constitutes the employee’s opposition to the activity.”16 8 Id. at 413. At this point I’d like to offer a disclaimer that is a civil-law equivalent of “innocent until proven guilty.” This case was decided on a Motion to Dismiss, which means the court simply assumed that everything in the Complaint was true and decided whether the facts—if proven—were sufficient to establish that a law was violated. Therefore, the facts recited in the court’s opinion and repeated in this article had not yet been proven at a trial, and Carilion Clinic would probably have denied many of them. 9 Id. at 413. 10 Id. at 414. 11 Id. 12 Id. at 414-15. 13 Id. at 415. 14 Id. 15 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). 16 Id. at 416-17 (citing Crawford v. Metro Gov’t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., Tenn., 555 U.S. 271, 276 (2009), in turn citing 2 EEOC Compliance Manual §§ 8-II-B(1), (2), p. 614:0003 (Mar. 2003)).

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Courts have held that oppositional conduct can include utilizing informal grievance procedures, staging protests, complaining about unlawful practices to other employees, and otherwise endeavoring to obtain an employer’s compliance with Title VII—including through certain non-verbal conduct.17 Furthermore, the appellate court noted that Title VII provides broader protection for victims of retaliation than for victims of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, or religion because “effective enforcement could only be expected if employees felt free to approach officials with their grievances.”18 Through that lens, the court of appeals found that DeMasters clearly communicated to the employer a belief that the employer engaged in discriminatory conduct and that the conduct complained about was either actually unlawful under Title VII or DeMasters reasonably believed it was unlawful. Consequently, DeMasters’ advocacy for Doe was a protected activity, and Title VII prohibited the employer from firing DeMasters in retaliation. Additionally, the court of appeals found that, in this case, DeMasters’ complaints about the employer’s handling of Doe’s situation actually did oppose an unlawful employment practice because DeMasters reasonably believed the mishandling contributed to the creation of a retaliatory hostile work environment for Doe.19 Even seemingly premature complaints about a developing hostile work environment constitute protected activity. This is true even if the complaint relates to only an isolated incident of harassment and there is no other evidence that a hostile work environment is intended or likely to occur.20 Having found that DeMasters engaged in protected activity and sufficiently demonstrated that his termination was based on that activity, the court of appeals reinstated DeMasters’ Title VII retaliation claim. Practical Takeaways: • Sometimes, employee advocacy becomes uncomfortably adversarial with the employer, and federal law shields not only the complaining employee but also the EA professional from retaliation. Under the DeMasters decision, EAP personnel may be more inclined to aggressively advocate for employees that report discrimination whom, according to the Court, “they are duty-bound to protect.” •

Any communication—including non-verbal communication with sufficient context—whether to a manager or a peer, expressing a belief that the employer engaged in an employment practice that was unlawful or that the speaker reasonably believed to be unlawful, is a “protected activity” under the Opposition Clause of Title VII’s anti-retaliation provisions.

Oppositional statements are protected against retaliation regardless of whether the speaker experiences the unlawful conduct themselves or witnesses it in the workplace.

This article is educational in nature and is not intended as legal advice. Always consult your legal counsel with specific legal matters. Heather Mogden represents healthcare providers in a wide range of litigation matters in state and federal courts and administrative proceedings, including on commercial and employment disputes as well as False Claims Act defense and provider reimbursement appeals. Heather advises clients on all aspects of litigation, from the initial pleadings through trial, as well as pre-litigation risk assessment and litigation avoidance strategies in contracting.

17 DeMasters, 796 F.3d at 417 (case citations omitted). 18 Id. at 418 (quoting Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 63 (2006)). 19 Id. at 420; but see Brush v. Sears Holdings Corp., 466 Fed. Appx. 781 (11th Cir. 2012) (finding that the complaints in that case about the employer’s handling of a sexual harassment investigation did not constitute protected activity). 20 Id. at 421.

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Highlighting Updates to EAPA | By Julie Fabsik-Swarts, MS, CFRE, CAP, CEO, Employee Assistance Professionals Association


t has been a busy time at EAPA. We have a lot of changes underway that will result in a much-improved membership experience come 2023.

Integrated and Efficient Online Member Experience The biggest challenge we are undertaking is a complete system migration from our current patchwork of vendors to a single new vendor for our online member services. Currently, we operate under five companies that don’t integrate well. As we move toward 2023, we will be fine-tuning: •

A brand-new website! You asked for it - you got it. We have been reviewing the 973 pages of information on our website to understand more about the value of our content to members and to re-imagine the experience of web users. Our new website will include new graphic designs, updated toolkits, and better clarity with information on educational programs and the Annual Institute and EXPO. Many thanks to 22

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the expert volunteers who have donated significant time to review the current website and recommend improvements. •

A new member database – New functionality and features will be available in the new database that will affect members across the board. Chapter and Branch members will no longer have to wait for EAPA staff to manually download their membership and send it to them. Instead, Chapter and Branch Presidents will be able to run a report 24 hours a day, seven days a week-ON DEMAND!

A new learning module system - For several years, we have relied on an outside company called Blue Sky to host the CEAP learning module system. Aside from the cost, the platform often stops communicating with our current database. This means information about a member passing an exam or the status of one’s CEAP credential does not transmit to EAPA. This inconveniences our members and costs staff time and additional fees for the systems to be brought into sync. The new system, Freestone, will reside under the same vendor as our database and will connect without issue.

Strategic Planning EAPA is also actively working on our Strategic Plan, which will help us identify and focus efforts to ensure the best future direction for the organization. We hope to premiere it for comment in early 2023. New Board Members Please help me welcome our new board members (who are in the process of being elected as I write this article). We are excited about the road ahead and to incorporate the vision and perspective of the new members. EAPA extends our gratitude to outgoing board members Patrick Williams and Lauren Garnier. Patrick was the Treasurer/Secretary of the Board. In that role, he led the finance committee and worked to ensure accurate financial records. He also led initiatives to increase the financial viability of EAPA. Lauren served on the Meetings Committee. Most notably, she was vital in determining and defining the awards program for EAPA. We greatly appreciate the years of time and dedication given to us by Patrick and Lauren. Return of Free Friday Webinars We hope to finish out the year with another series of Free Friday Webinars for our members, so be on the lookout for notices of these events in your email. For 2023, we are also working on adding a series of educational programs in areas of EAP work that will be fascinating and useful! Until then, enjoy the holiday, stay safe and keep finding the passion that makes you a hero to so many! 23 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


featurearticle Dancing in the Minefield: Seeking Peace Amidst Polarization | By Jeff Gorter, MSW, LCSW


itter arguments over pandemic protocols and public safety…racial injustice protests following the death of George Floyd and others…the most divisive and aggressive political environment in memory, including an unprecedented breach of the US Capitol…the SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v Wade, and the subsequent chaos regarding reproductive rights…these issues and others have confronted the United States over the last three years and show no signs of abating. The passion-fueled polarization surrounding these matters is no surprise, as these are not just esoteric debating points - they are deeply personal issues that often come with debilitating pain for many. These conflicts play out daily in our families, communities, and companies. As EA professionals, we are at the forefront of bringing hope, compassion and understanding into these situations. 24 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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However, EA professionals don’t exist in a vacuum; these larger societal issues have power over us as well. Seasoned clinicians know that neutrality is essential for establishing rapport in any helping endeavor, but that can be challenging when we are personally impacted, or if our own strong positions are placed in contrast. What if the host company’s COVID response plan is not in alignment with your own health concerns? Suppose you are called to respond to a worksite that unabashedly displays political support for a candidate with whom you deeply disagree. Imagine you’re asked to support a workgroup that is unproductive because the ideas of “Defund the Police” and the “Thin Blue Line” have come to represent polarized camps of employees who no longer talk to each other, much less work together in a collegial fashion. Many EA professionals have passionate thoughts and opinions on these matters, but our effectiveness depends on connecting with all employees, not just those who share our values or viewpoints – a challenging task, indeed. It may help to step back and consider why the contemporary cultural polarization is so compelling. While social media and partisan news feeds undoubtedly play a major role, polarization is not a new phenomenon and certainly pre-dates the internet. Historically, people are drawn to adopting extreme unipolar positions because it offers the following benefits: •

It reinforces already existing deeply held beliefs

There is a sense of moral clarity

It engenders a feeling of belonging (“We all think the correct way, right?”)

Answers to real problems may appear simple and direct

In a rapidly changing societal environment, these factors offer obvious comfort. The downside, however, is also obvious and comes at a significant cost: •

There is a reflexive rejection of new or contrary information

Intense disillusionment if long-held assumptions are challenged or proven false, leading many to “double down” with renewed intensity

Strong identification with one group may lead to tribalism and “otherizing” those who disagree (“They all think the wrong way, right?”)

Failure to employ objective reflection on complex problems which rarely have simple answers

While these concepts are familiar to EA professionals and often applied to those we are trying to help – we may forget that they apply equally to us as individuals. We are not immune to human nature! The following precepts are helpful starting points in diffusing polarization as we are called to effect change in a splintered workgroup, coach a struggling leader, or simply as individuals seeking to navigate our own journey in these tumultuous times: Remember that anger is a secondary emotion: Although anger is a powerful and understandable feeling to experience following events of this type, it is not the core emotion. We became angry because we felt mistreated, frightened, demeaned, rejected, or ignored, etc. Acknowledging the core emotion in no way minimizes the outrage one may experience commensurate with the event, but it more clearly identifies the heart of the matter and offers a path for greater understanding. Letting anger drive the interaction – either yours or theirs – will only likely engender an equally angry reaction, adding fuel to the polarization and slamming the door on progress. Seek first to understand: It’s human nature to want to be understood, but many times that is not what we experience in our conversations. As Stephen Covey said, “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” And until a person feels listened to, they will restate the issue…again…louder…with hyperbole, get25 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


featurearticle ting increasingly more exaggerated with each retelling. But once a person feels they have been heard, they are open to considering solutions, or they may agree to disagree, or even compromise to the degree that they believe they were offered the respect and acknowledgment they sought. Being able to state, “So, what you’re saying is this…do I have that right?” is a simple way to indicate the message was received and can change the tone of a conversation. Remember, understanding doesn’t mean agreement with or endorsement of a specific position; it simply accords the dignity each of us inherently deserves. Resist “otherizing”: The tendency to make broad assumptions about another person based on insufficient information has become the dominant Zeitgeist of our time. Fueled by real-time posts of thoughts/feelings/opinions and no direct face-to-face social consequence for extreme statements, it’s easy to view individuals or groups through an us vs. them lens, making snap judgments that reinforce preconceived tribalism based on age, gender, race, political affiliation, etc. Otherizing is selfreinforcing, it screens out anything that challenges the assumption and only seeks that which confirms…even when it is demonstrably false. It dehumanizes the other(s) and diminishes the individual doing the otherizing. EA professionals often have sensitive conversations with business leaders to expand perspective and effect change in a corporate culture, but we can only be truly effective if we apply that same rigor to ourselves. In the current context of constant chaos, those who seek to speak a word of reasoned calm into the situation must be intentional and mindful of their own biases. To be clear, I am not suggesting that EA professionals should have no opinions nor take a side on an issue – far from it. Employee Assistance, as a profession, has and always will champion those who are oppressed or forgotten, bring resources to those who are underserved and give voice to those who are being silenced. It’s in the DNA of our vocation, and it’s who we are! But to encourage real change, we must engage with those who resist that change, and that requires authentic understanding and genuine openness, even to those with whom we deeply disagree. I find Prochaska’s Stages of Change Model to be helpful in reframing my conversations. If someone I disagree with denies or doesn’t even know that there is a problem (pre-contemplation), expressing my righteous indignation is not likely to change their mind; in fact, they’re more likely to dig in. Perhaps we, as EA professionals, can lead the way and foster communication in this polarized moment, defusing the anger and guiding connections rooted in dignity and respect. The unique blend of clinical, interpersonal, and organizational skills that Employee Assistance represents aligns well with this moment. As John F. Kennedy, quoting an ancient scholar, said: “If not us, who?” And if not now, when?” Jeff Gorter, MSW, LCSW, is VP of Crisis Response Services at R3 Continuum. Mr. Gorter brings over 30 years of clinical experience including consultation and extensive on-site critical incident response to businesses and communities. He has responded directly to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shootings, the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, the Newtown Tragedy, the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shooting, the Las Vegas Shooting, and the breaching of the US Capitol on 1/6/21. 26 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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webwatch Podcast Reprogram Your Brain to Destroy Laziness and Improve Focus with Dr. Andrew Huberman

Book Conscious Service: Ten ways to reclaim your calling, move beyond burnout, and make a difference without sacrificing yourself ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1661 793544&sr=8-1

This is an episode from the Dhru Purohit Podcast series in which he interviews Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Huberman discusses opening the window into our neurochemistry, training our nervous system, and confronting our “inner real estate.” which is the ability of our nervous system to rewire and learn new behaviors, skills, and cognitive functioning. It is an exciting discussion about topics connected to behavioral health. Some interesting markers in the show: -The connection between fear, laziness, and motivation (1:30) -The difference between dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin (17:40) -How to increase dopamine (19:15) -How to get your mind to stop racing (31:09) -An exercise to try if you are having a hard time falling asleep (35:43) -The benefits of hypnosis (38:52) -What to do if you are having trouble focusing (52:43) -Why structure is one of the best ways to create freedom (1:01:28) -The importance of having times of no focus each day (1:16:32)

As the demand for behavioral health services continues to rise, those of us in helping professions can be challenged to succeed without compromising our own well-being. Elizabeth Bishop has shared some guiding thoughts and principles in her book about serving others in a way that honors our strengths and supports our health. From Amazon: Using everyday examples, personal stories, and illuminating questions, Elizabeth Bishop invites us to reimagine how we think about, train for, and embody service. Blurring the line between the traditional and the alternative with expertly chosen spiritual and selfhelp insights, Conscious Service: Ten Ways to Reclaim Your Calling, Move beyond Burnout, and Make a Difference without Sacrificing Yourself offers practical and inspiring guidance for service providers and the people responsible for the systems and structures through which service is delivered.

Podcast A Harvard Psychiatrist Rethinks Mental Health As A Metabolic Disease id1382804627?i=1000570963999

Website Toolkit United States 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

This is an episode from The Doctor’s Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D. He interviews Dr. Christopher Palmer, who challenges the paradigm of psychiatry and discusses new ways of treating psychiatric disorders, specifically with the ketogenic diet and mitochondrial repair. Dr. Palmer is a psychiatrist, Director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) has published resources designed to help states, territories, tribes, mental health and substance use disorder professionals, and others looking for information on understanding the background, history, funding opportunities, and implementation resources for strengthening suicide prevention and mental health crisis services. 988 is now live on all devices. An excellent tool for EA professionals is the partner toolkit with social media tools, text for publications, videos and more to help promote these services to clients.

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featurearticle A Roadmap for Thriving as a Newcomer to the Employee Assistance Profession | By Janice E. Harewood, Ph.D. and Karis L. McClammy, Psy.D.


ith the growth in the provision of employee assistance (EA) services in the US and internationally (Employee Assistance Professionals Association, n.d.), and the usefulness of employee assistance programs (EAPs) being highlighted by the impact of COVID-19 on workers and organizations (Brooks and Ling, 2022), EA work represents a valuable career opportunity for mental health professionals seeking a career transition. We (the authors), mid-career and early-career psychologists, respectively, found positions within a faculty staff assistance program (FSAP) at a southeast US university during the COVID19 pandemic. Since most of our work experience was with services in college counseling centers and private practice, with only limited prior exposure to EA work, it has been an exciting challenge for us to develop new knowledge areas and skill sets and find ways to enrich the services provided by our FSAP. While transitions can be energizing, they can also be stressful, as they may produce anxiety in the face of uncertainty. As we continue to adjust to the EA profession, we have identified six interrelated strategies that have been useful to us. In agreement with Cooper-Thomas et al. (2011) that organizational newcomers can utilize a variety of approaches to enhance their own socialization, we outline our adjustment strategies and discuss how they have supported our transition into our new roles.

Know the EAP Core Technology Understanding the EAP core technology – the key elements of EA work – can help EA newcomers to feel grounded in their work and to become more proficient in this new role. The core components of EA work and the distinctive tasks that emerge from them underscore that transitioning to the EA profession is a re-specialization. 28 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Consequently, for ethical and practical reasons, we recommend using a variety of methods to address knowledge gaps and develop competencies as EAP newcomers. These include seeking exposure to novel tasks, attending continuing education workshops, subscribing to an EA journal, and perusing the International Employee Assistance Digital Archive ( New EA professionals can also develop competence in core technology by shadowing cases and activities where specialized knowledge and processes are utilized (e.g., return to work evaluations and fitness for duty evaluations). We also recommend making full use of learning opportunities during supervision, case conferences, and case consultation. In these discussions, client support resources are frequently mentioned (e.g., names, other workplace units/departments, and community organizations), and these are essential resources for the practitioner to note and track. Learning the core technology should also include familiarity with commonly used EAP tools. For one of the authors, exposure to the Workplace Outcomes Suite (WOS; Chestnut Global Partners, 2017) reinforced the necessity of attending to an employee’s work functioning throughout the intervention. The centrality in EA work of the relationships among an employee’s personal satisfaction, work-related emotions, and work behaviors, and the importance of assessing for both overt (e.g., poor attendance) and covert (e.g., presenteeism) work problems were also highlighted. Additional reading of the annual WOS reports also provided her with language and an evidence base for promoting the value of FSAP services with organizational leaders. Know the Complexities of the Dual Client Transitioning to EA work requires cognitive, emotional, and behavioral adjustments to effectively support dual clients. In our previous roles, our clients have been the individuals receiving mental health interventions. However, at our FSAP, we have expanded our perspective to consider the organization’s goals. New EA professionals might experience significant discomfort when the needs of these dual clients conflict. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we supported frontline employees who presented for services with reports of overwork and burnout, and leaders who were coping with the stress of understaffing. We have had to manage the frustration of helping these clients in limited ways while knowing that their experiences are shaped in part by systemic factors beyond their control. We have also experienced tension when the desired outcomes of staff and management might conflict (e.g., a lighter workload for the employee versus the leader’s need to ensure adequate coverage of services). We have benefitted from using cognitive and emotional management skills such as perspective-taking and developing a tolerance for ambivalence when faced with complex dual-client cases. Consulting with our FSAP leaders and colleagues about ways to manage such cases has normalized our emotional reactions and taught us how to effectively support dual clients while remaining neutral. Guidance for addressing dual client dilemmas can also be obtained from the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (2017), other professional ethics documents (e.g., American Psychological Association, 2017), and professional ethics consultants. We also navigated potential dual-client dilemmas by reviewing organizational policies and procedures to increase our knowledge and accurately educate our clients. We discussed consent documents very carefully with clients when there might be a higher potential for conflict between employee and workplace needs (e.g., issues regarding safety-sensitive positions). We diligently maintained the boundaries of our roles (e.g., referring clients to workplace resources such as HR managers or the Ombuds Office when appropriate). Know Your Client’s Support Needs Additionally, depending on previous work experience, EA newcomers might benefit from a refresher in developmental psychology or other human development topics. We changed from primarily addressing late adolescent and young adult developmental needs to targeting needs related to later life stages (e.g., caring for dependents, divorce, enhancing skills for career advancement, and preparing for retirement). Consequently, we have had to bolster our knowledge of resources suitable for this latter group; our handouts “library” now includes more information on caregiver support, parenting, and other pertinent resources. 29 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


featurearticle Also, you might need to adjust your counseling style to accommodate time-limited interventions and the EA focus of assessment and referral, especially if you are accustomed to providing longer-term therapy. Specific counseling modifications might include de-emphasizing techniques focused on deep processing of emotions, for example, and focusing more on problem-solving, action steps, and skill building to address employee problems in a short time frame. If your background has gaps in providing brief therapy work, our recommendations include reviewing single-session interventions, solution-focused therapy, and motivational interviewing. These approaches can assist with goal clarification, increasing readiness for change, and rapid symptom improvement that can help the client improve within their EAP model or prepare for a referral. Having a flexible view of what connotes a successful service outcome will also help with newcomer adjustment. For example, success now often includes effectively connecting the employee client with community-based care. We have become more comfortable with referring while knowing that we will not be present to witness the resolution of the employee’s presenting problem. We have also benefited emotionally from accepting that success can be complicated, such as when an intervention results in a distressing outcome for an employee but leads to a necessary, risk-reducing outcome for the organizational client (e.g., denial of a return to work approval for impaired employees in safety-sensitive positions). Know How To Build Positive Work Connections It is important to build effective connections with colleagues and leaders throughout the organization to familiarize oneself with the work environment. Our FSAP colleagues and leaders have been an essential source of knowledge and support for us. The knowledge they have shared has supported our professional acculturation, helping us to build skills, adapt to the unwritten values and norms of our organization, and avoid professional pitfalls. Our warm introductions to other departments and teams quickly fostered a sense of partnership and trust in us from others outside our office. We also actively contributed to this relationship-building by being willing to ask questions, acknowledging when we did not know the answers, sharing from our expertise, sharing the workload, and collaborating. Creating linkages with the broader EA community has also been enriching. One of the authors attended her first EA conference within six months of transitioning to her new role and was able to build connections and learn about EAP trends, innovative ways of serving clients, and the profession’s rich history. Professional listserv messages have also been an invaluable source of encouragement and information sharing. Know How To Engage in Self-Care Given the increase in sociopolitical stressors and the myriad of losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in employee distress and demand for support services. As we strive to meet intensified client needs during the pandemic, EA clinicians are not immune to common clinician challenges such as increased stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue. New EA professionals must also consider the personal risk of mental, emotional, and functional difficulties due to transition stress. Self-care is essential for EA clinicians to manage stress-related problems and ultimately provide optimal quality care to our clients. Whether working remotely or in an office setting, it is important to incorporate daily self-care practices of your choosing (e.g., going for a walk, meditating, talking with peers, friends, or family members). Since both authors were hired during the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities to “drop by” colleagues’ offices to get to know them and ask questions about the work culture were unavailable while we were working virtually. However, we found that carving out time to consult with colleagues via Zoom or other online platforms not only served as a form of self-care, but also assisted in fostering collegial support and community. Know Your Worth It is normal for non-EA clinicians to be acutely aware of their growth edges as they transition into the unfamiliar EA field. However, it is equally important for transitioning clinicians to acknowledge how their prior experiences and partnerships serve as strengths and valuable additions to new work settings. For example, both authors have a history of working in college counseling and assisted our FSAP with increasing the efficiency of documentation 30 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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and scheduling by implementing Titanium Schedule (, an electronic clients record system that is widely used in college counseling centers. One author also trained colleagues to present a modified version of the Anxiety Toolbox (Cal Poly, n.d.) for campus employees. This brief psychoeducation and skill-building workshop initially developed for use with college students has proven to be a valued education and outreach tool within our workplace. Newcomers can also contribute a wealth of referral knowledge to their EA setting because of their awareness of community services via professional networks and partnerships with non-EA providers. These resources can be shared with EA colleagues to help provide continuity of care for employees who may require long-term therapy, acute mental health treatment, or access to other community resources. It is important for transitioning professionals to recognize they may know more about some aspects of EA work than first realized due to terminology differences. For example, coaching within some EAP settings might be regarded as counseling in other settings (e.g., teaching assertiveness skills to clients and enhancing clients’ work adjustment skills). Nevertheless, it is prudent to be aware of adaptations that might be needed when applying existing knowledge within EAPs. Additionally, skills honed in settings where training, psychoeducational educational workshops, and liaison work are important (e.g., counseling centers) may apply well in EAPs that provide education and outreach services within their organizations. Final Thoughts Not all EAPs are identical in the services they provide or the types of organizations they serve. That said, we hope that new EA professionals seeking satisfaction, effectiveness, well-being, and success at work can benefit from the various strategies we have described. References American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017). Brooks, C. D., & Ling, J. (2020). Are we doing enough: An examination of the utilization of employee assistance programs to support the mental health needs of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic? Journal of Insurance Regulation, 39(8), 1–34. Cal Poly (n.d.). Emotional well-being workshops. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from Chestnut Global Partners. (2017). Workplace Outcome Suite© (WOS) Annual Report: Comparing Improvement After EAP Counseling for Different Outcomes. White Paper (46 pages). Bloomington, IL. Cooper-Thomas, H., Anderson, N., & Cash, M. (2011). Investigating organizational socialization: A fresh look at newcomer adjustment strategies. Personnel Review, 41(1), 41-55. Employee Assistance Professionals Association (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from Employee Assistance Professionals Association (2017, April 21). Ethical issues and codes. Ethical-Issues-and-Codes

Janice E. Harewood, Ph.D., is the FSAP-Graduate Medical Education Psychologist at the Emory Faculty Staff Assistance Program. She has over ten years of experience with providing counseling, outreach, and supervision, primarily in college counseling and private practice settings, and currently focuses on supporting the well-being needs of medical residents and fellows. Karis L. McClammy, Psy.D., is a staff psychologist at the Emory Faculty Staff Assistance Program. She has experience in individual, couples, and group therapy with adults, and psychoeducational testing with children, adolescents, and adults.

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featurearticle Reframing the Conversation: Embracing Workplace Conflict Through a DEIB Lens | By Mary Fosten-English, LMFT, CEAP and Bryan McNutt, Ph.D., LMFT, CEAP


hile the experience of interpersonal conflict at work is not new, managers and EA professionals face increasingly complex and dynamic situations that influence how workplace conflict emerges, how conflict is interpreted, and how conflict is managed. Navigating workplace conflicts is often a part of the job that managers and employee assistance professionals report as a standard yet considerably challenging phenomenon in the workplace. In addition, organizational leaders are confronted with the difficult task of guiding their teams through rapidly changing macro-sociocultural factors that can play out as unavoidable dynamics within the workplace, such as critical matters of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). This article discusses the intersectionality between workplace culture and conflict while also introducing the benefits of using a DEIB lens in navigating workplace conflict through the application of the EMBRACE© model of mediation. The Evolving Experiences of Workplace Conflict Over the past few decades, the workplace has become increasingly diversified, inevitably introducing the potential for interpersonal conflict and disagreement due to the convergence of differing worldviews, perspectives, beliefs, and lived experiences. Some challenging dimensions include interpersonal skill deficiencies in establishing relational neutrality, building adequate trust and rapport, and utilizing vocabulary and communication strategies to address personal differences and power inequities. Additional examples include experiences in which employees and coworkers may feel misunderstood, not included, valued, or marginalized in the workplace due to implicit bias and assumptions about one’s own (or another’s) work role and position of authority. Conflict that is not managed effectively impacts team performance and may contribute to a stifled sense of belonging, inclusion, and lack 32 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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of meaningful engagement at work. Managers are challenged with critical inflection points to address emerging team conflicts in a timely and effective manner, which can promote a sense of resolution and reconciliation that result in better understanding and trust between employees. Culture and Conflict in the Workplace Across organizations, employers are faced with increased demands to enhance relevant experiences of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to retain current employees, attract new talent, and nurture a more meaningful and satisfying work experience. However, many leaders are discovering the inherent challenges of preexisting workplace cultures that resist such aspirational values and organizational changes. In a recent survey of over 5,700 employers and employees, which spanned multiple industries in Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, respondents revealed that a majority of those who left their job in the past six months did not feel valued by their organization (54%) or manager (52%), or they lacked a sense of belonging (51%) (De Smet et al., 2021). Recent meta-analytic research exploring the experience of workplace conflict and incivility has revealed the inherent systemic nature of workplace conflict, which may be reinforced by harmful organizational cultures and structures of power (Chris et al., 2022). Contextual factors, such as an organization’s culture, are more impactful than individual differences in predicting workplace conflict (Yao et al., 2021). Often, workplace conflict extends beyond a purely interpersonal level of conflict that is made up of a few “bad apples” who may instigate conflict. Instead, it involves the entire cultural system of a workplace. Harmful workplace cultures can perpetuate implicit beliefs and pervasive habits of behavior that undermine interpersonal trust, reinforce bias and prejudice, and contaminate collaborative relations. For example, research has explored workplace cultures that function through heteronormative masculine-dominant styles of relating, which may promote and reward interpersonal traits such as hyper-competition, ruthlessness, stamina and emotional toughness (Berdahl et al., 2018). Other common workplace cultures that perpetuate systemic conflict and work against DEIB values include perfectionistic, power-hoarding and individualistic cultures (McNutt, 2021). These types of cultures are often implicated in marginalizing employees who do not reflect aspects of the dominant cultural schema of a workplace. In addition, Somaraju et al. (2014) also reveal how workplace conflict is perpetuated by organizational cultures that enable unfair workloads and neglect to provide supportive resources for employees. The Critical Role of Managers and EAPs in Navigating Workplace Conflict Given the inherent systemic dimension of workplace conflict, it is worth considering how conflict resolution solutions need to extend beyond individually-focused employee interventions to include more dynamic organizational factors, such as addressing the workplace cultures within work groups, teams, units, and departments. Organizational leaders and managers are in unique positions to contribute to shaping a productive workplace culture, cultivate DEIB sensitivity, and mitigate emerging conflict. We know managers often set the tone for the subculture within a work team or unit. In addition, frontline supervisors are frequently in positions to identify early indicators of team conflict and to initiate constructive supervisory engagement within the workgroup. Likewise, EAPs have a critical role in providing management consultancy support to help supervisors and leaders navigate the dynamics of workplace conflict through a DEIB lens. Although research primarily supports the correlation between diversity and increased conflicts, there is limited research on the positive benefits of diversity in dealing with workplace conflict. Roberge and VanDick (2010) did an extensive literature review and analysis of when and how diversity can improve work performance and be effective in managing conflict. They propose a psycho-social, multi-level model that examines how individual and collective identity combined with psychological safety activates mechanisms that lead to positive outcomes by highlighting diversity. The Equity, Mediation (focusing on) Belonging, Racism (and) Accountability Conversations in Educational Institutions or EMBRACE© model exemplifies how to view conflict through a DEIB lens. In the following section, we will review the application of the EMBRACE© model within the context of providing management consultation support. We believe 33 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


featurearticle the framework of the EMBRACE© model can serve as a practical strategy to help managers feel more equipped to navigate experiences of team conflict while remaining grounded in DEIB-oriented values. Incorporating the EMBRACE© model within Management Consultation Building on the premise that diversity increases conflict, Roberg and VanDick (2010) insert that it is important to look at the type of conflict to determine any positive outcomes of diversity in the workplace, especially regarding how it impacts conflict. They identify three types of conflicts that can occur in diverse groups: (1) task conflict, (2) socio-emotional conflict and (3) value conflict. Task conflict is disagreement about the content of the task. Socio-emotional conflict is based on relationships and negative feelings about individuals in relationships with each other (Jehn, 1995). Value conflict is based on what individuals value in terms of the process and the outcome (Gebert, Boerner, & Kearney, 2006), and value conflict is typically one of the more challenging types of conflict to mediate because it requires a deeper style of communication that builds trust and psychological safety. Managers and EA professionals who are skillful at using deeper styles of communication that include empathy and understand how differences in diversity generate different types of conflict will be more effective in managing conflicts due to differences that arise in each of the three types. The EMBRACE© approach is introduced here as a different model of mediation/facilitated conversations that can effectively resolve conflicts associated with differences reflective of diversity, racism and other forms of inequity. The word embrace is commonly used as a verb, and when used as a verb, it can mean “to accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.” As a noun, embrace can be defined as “an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.” When used in the context of relationships, embrace captures how important it is to accept the natural element of conflict (Foston-English, 2021). EMBRACE® offers some skills and tools for managers and EAs to assist in managing conflicts highlighted by power and inequity differences. Although this model was created for use in educational institutions, its usefulness and applicability extend to corporate organizations and teams, which may also embody similar forms of power structures. EMBRACE is best used by professionals proficient in either mediation/facilitated conversation skills and/ or DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging) or JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) awareness. Mediation and Facilitated Conversation will be used interchangeably in this article and are the same process. It requires, at minimum, a level of cultural competency and, ideally, cultural humility. Cultural humility includes continued growth and awareness about privilege, leaning into the uncomfortable, and professionally working with individuals in a more culturally responsive way. (Hook et al., 2017). The extensive literature review by Roberge and VanDick (2010) outlines reasons for the effectiveness and use of “multi-level” interventions when working with diverse workforces. Their propositions align with the language and concepts of cultural competence and having cultural humility. These include understanding the individual identity of diverse employees and taking time to understand what, when and how collective identity prohibits deeper communication styles and trust. EMBRACE is based on these same core concepts and a multi-level model of conflict management that uses deeper, trust-building, empathetic communication using a DEIB lens to examine how inequities and power differentials impact conflict. Managers who incorporate these concepts will be more effective in managing conflicts at work. Asking individuals to examine the role of systemic oppression may result in a keen defensiveness which is destructive to any true conflict mediation. As Robin DiAngelo stresses in her book White Fragility, a cultural norm exists that privileges silence around structural inequities which creates overwhelming discomfort for anybody who benefits from that system, yet “the key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort.” (Diangelo, 2018). A fundamental aspect of EMBRACE© is attending to this discomfort through normalizing conflict; that is, we must stress that conflict is a stage of any relationship. Indeed, systemic conflicts abound in a society with various forms of intersecting oppressions, so when we neglect to acknowledge the ever-present conflicts that exist, our effectiveness in resolving these conflicts is diminished, and the process of reparative mediation is forestalled.

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When EA professionals are consulted to help managers with conflictual work relationships, EMBRACE© suggests assessing how differences, power and inequity are seen as part of the work culture and how these contribute to the conflict. EMBRACE© provides strong scaffolding with hands-on techniques to support managers and EA professionals in facilitating difficult but powerful conversations within a culturally responsive context. The initial meeting with employees who might benefit from using EMBRACE© techniques and vocabulary requires trust and empathy-building skills with both marginalized employees and employees with perceived power. For example, asking about “collective paranoia” (Kramer, 1994) and “healthy paranoia” (Grier & Cobbs, 1968) can elicit empathetic conversations necessary for building trust with marginalized employees. For example, asking employees with power if they have an awareness of how their power might play a part in the conflict creates empathy with them. It is also important to assess if there is a difference in who values individual self-identity more, who values collective group identity more, and if individual identity is “lost” by taking on the group identity. Tips for Managers and EA professionals who utilize an EMBRACE approach: •

Familiarize yourself with different theories of change models

Become knowledgeable about the benefits of mediation/facilitated conversation and be able to determine when it’s most effective

Be comfortable with setting the stage for how and why power inequalities contribute to conflict

Model communication that fosters empathy and acceptance

Introduce and use relevant DEIB vocabulary and definitions

Explain how EMBRACE is an opportunity to grow in awareness of biases

Encourage self-reflection after each meeting

Be attentive to own body’s reactions to what’s seen and heard by participants and be attentive to participant’s body language

Inquire about biased thoughts, beliefs and behaviors

Be knowledgeable about the mandated reporting process and resources/referrals

Management Consultation Vignette Ellen, a 55-year-old white, cisgender heterosexual female supervisor, requests to meet with the organization’s EAP after receiving a complaint from one of her direct reports. The supervisor oversees a team of five very diverse employees, including a 32-year-old Latinx queer-identified employee of 6 months, Rigoberto. The employee reported feeling undermined by another team member, John, a 46-year-old Irish-American cisgender heterosexual male, and senior team member. Although they were hired for the expertise they bring to the team, Rigoberto complained about John not inviting them to lead any projects. Ellen has requested additional guidance about facilitating a constructive conversation between employees to help them better understand each other and de-escalate the tension and negativity impacting the team’s performance. We would like to suggest some recommendations when considering the application of the EMBRACE model within the context of providing management consultation support. Utilizing the example of the previous vignette, here are some suggestions for working with the supervisor, Ellen. As an EA provider, you have an opportunity to: •

Facilitate Ellen’s reflection upon the habits of culture within her work team and how diversity is valued

Assist Ellen with considering how the different habits of work culture may contribute to her employees feeling misunderstood, unseen, not valued or included 35

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featurearticle •

Facilitate Ellen’s self-reflection about the implicit biases she may have about her team’s experience of conflict (e.g., who she may view as being “right” or “wrong”)

Collaboratively explore with Ellen her awareness of the potential power dynamics that are inherent within the conflict between Rigoberto and John, as well as the influence of her power position in the department

Assist Ellen with reflecting upon the possible role that each employee’s social positionality might have upon their working relationship (e.g., gender roles/norms; perceived authority related to age discrepancy and seniority at the organization; expectations of assuming a position of leadership)

Encourage Ellen to approach her facilitated conversation with both employees from a relational position that practices curiosity rather than judgment, models genuine listening rather than authoritative directing, and acknowledges her own gaps of understanding about their respective subjective feelings and perceptions

Secondly, it may also be helpful to explore with Ellen how she can encourage Rigoberto and John to: •

Consider how conflict is not a sign of “failure” but rather a normal process of relationships

Identify the value of the different perspectives they each bring in their approach to the team project (e.g., stimulating new insight and approaches to being creative, efficient, and productive)

Ask if other differences (i.e., race, ethnicity, sexual identity, etc.) may be contributing to the conflict

Recognize the complementary strengths both employees offer to the team through their different lengths of tenure with the organization (e.g., the value of institutional knowledge and the value of fresh perspective) and different views about individual self vs. group collective identity

Demonstrate situational humility during occasions of disagreement while also recognizing the need for each other’s expertise to help fill in the gaps in knowledge

Solicit collaborative input from both employees about what they view as equitable solutions, as well as invite them both to follow up with further collaboration about their performance

Conclusion When considering the systemic dimensions of workplace experience, EAPs are challenged to consider how the symptoms of workplace conflict emerge from organizational cultures that struggle to adapt to the challenges of engaging a more complex work environment that involves a more diverse and inclusive workforce. These diverse work environments require different ways to view and manage conflicts. The EMBRACE model provides further consideration of reimagining conflict as a relational opportunity for enhanced awareness of oneself and others rather than as a relational experience that is inherently threatening. Rather than avoiding conflict or pushing against it, the EMBRACE model encourages managers to lean into the conflict experience. Doing so also reflects the value of engaging the patterns of conflict within their team culture and learning from the importance of integrating diverse perspectives, convictions, and life experiences into the team culture. VISIONS, Inc. is a non-profit organization created in 1984 by three Black women and a white Jewish male with the goal of educating individuals about the benefits of multiculturalism and social justice work. Their founding director, Valerie Batts (2015), writes, “True reconciliation can happen, then, only when all parties understand each other in ways that lead to behaving differently. For those with historical and current social, economic, and political power, i.e., United States citizens of European ancestry, White Australians, White South Africans and many others of European descent, reconciliation requires acknowledging the historic and continuing impact of racial privilege as well as working with the “targets” of this power imbalance to effect reconciliation at the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels.” This chart shows the various ways exclusion and inclusion show up in our society and especially in the workplace. 36 | JOURNAL OF EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE | 4th Quarter 2022 | •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Types of Oppression


Historically Included Groups

Historically Excluded Groups




People of Color (African, Latinx, Asian, Native)


Socio-Economic Status

Upper, Middle Class

Poor, Working Class


Education Level

Formally Educated

Informally Educated

Place in Hierarchy

Faculty, Managers, Exempt

Non-exempt staff,





Clerical, Students Transgender


Cisgender, Appearance & Behaviors congruent with the gender binary system

Transgender; Gender nonconforming;


Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, Queer, Questioning

Religious Religion Oppression, Anti-Semitism

Christian/ Protestant

Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Agnostic, Hindu, Atheist, Buddhist, Spiritual, LDS, Jehovah’s Witness, Pagan


Military Status

World War I & II, Gulf War Veterans

Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans & Pacifists



Young Adults

Elders (40+ by law)


Gender Identity/Gender Expression

Sexual Orientation

Gender queer; Androgynous

Children/Minors (17- by law) Adultism




Physical, Mental, Emotional, Learning Ability

Currently, “Able-Bodied”

Individuals with a physical, mental, emotional or learning disability


Immigrant Status

U.S. Born


Linguistic Oppression



English as a second language; NonEnglish

References Batts, V. (2015). Visions, Inc. Berdahl, J. L., Cooper, M., Glick, P., Livingston, R. W., & Williams, J. C. (2018). Work as a masculinity contest. Journal of Social Issues, 74(3), 422–448. Chris, A. C., Provencher, Y., Fogg, C., Thompson, S. C., Cole, A. L., Okaka, O., Bosco, F. A., & González-Morales, M. G. (2022). A meta-analysis of experienced incivility and its correlates: Exploring the dual-path model of experienced workplace incivility. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 27(3), 317–338. 37 | W W W. E A PA S S N . O R G | • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


featurearticle De Smet, A., Dowling, B., Mugayar-Baldocchi, M., Shaninger, B. (2021). “Great Attrition, or Great Attraction?” The choice is yours. McKinsey Quarterly. DiAngelo, R. D. (2018). White Fragility. Boston Press. Foston-English, M. (2021). The EMBRACE© Model: Facilitated Conversation Skills for Culturally Competent Therapists. The Therapist Magazine of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Vol 33(6), 6-10. Gebert, D., Boerner, S., & Kearney, E. (2006). Cross-functionality and innovation in new product development teams: A dilemmatic structure and its consequences for the management of diversity. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 15, 431-458. Grier, W.H., & Cobbs, P.M. (1968). Black Rage. New York: Basic Books Hook, J.N., Davis,D., Owen, J., & DeBlaere, C. (2017) APA. “Cultural Humility”: Engaging Diverse Identities in Therapy.” Jehn (1995). A multimethod examination of benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 256-282. Kramer (1994). The sinister attribution error: Origins and consequences of collective paranoia. Motivation and Emotion, 18, 199-230. McNutt, B. ( 2021). Addressing Racial & Ethnic Bias in the Workplace. Journal of Employee Assistance. Vol 51(2), 22 - 27. Roberge, M.E. & van Dick, R. (2010). Recognizing the benefits of diversity: When and how does diversity increase group performance? Human Resource Management Review (20). 295-308. Somaraju, A. V., Griffin, D. J., Olenick, J., Chang, C.-H. (D.), & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2022). The dynamic nature of interpersonal conflict and psychological strain in extreme work settings. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 27(1), 53–73. Yao, J. Lim, S., Guo, C.Y., Ou, A.Y., and Ng, J.W.X. (2022). Experienced incivility in the workplace: A meta-analytical review of its construct validity and nomological network. Journal of Applied Psychology, 107(2), 193-220. Mary Foston-English, LMFT (California and Texas), CEAP is a dual licensed Marriage and Family Therapist currently working part time for 25+ years as an internal employee assistance counselor at Stanford University’s Faculty Staff Help Center and as a private practitioner/consultant. She is a long-term EAPA member and uses her certification as a CAMFT certified supervisor to mentor trainees interested in becoming a CEAP. She may be reached at Dr. Bryan McNutt, PhD, LMFT, CEAP is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who currently works as an internal employee assistance counselor with the Faculty and Staff Employee Assistance Program at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. McNutt also serves as the president of the EAPA San Diego Chapter. He may be reached at

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earoundup The International EA Digital Archive Will Now Include SHRM Content The International Employee Assistance Digital Archive is thrilled to announce a new negotiation with Tony Lee, VP of Content for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Tony has agreed to allow SHRM articles to be added to the Archive going forward. As a start, we have submitted three articles: Will Remote Work Undermine Diversity Efforts: Helping Employees Cope with Death of a CoWorker: and Managing Flexible Arrangements (post-pandemic): http://hdl. Please feel free to check out these timely articles.

Mental Health Care at Work: Roundup of Recent Research on Employee Assistance Programs In this article, Clark Merrefield of The Journalist’s Resource shares general information about what an EAP is and how it functions as an important tool for employers to support workplace well-being. He then briefly describes five recent EAP studies and summarizes the findings. Overall, there is solid information about the effectiveness, responsiveness and projected evolution of EA services.

15 Ways Managers Can Help Workers Navigate Remote Work While this is not an EA article, per se, this article, like many that are coming out now, talks about the importance of good leadership in maintaining employee productivity and well-being. Four of the fifteen ways managers can support employees fall clearly in areas where EA professionals can offer consultation. These include advice to; set clear expectations, stay engaged with team members, determine what will work well for each individual and create space for different conversations.

How to Decode Workplace Culture bGZrYTlsWWV1WW9XT3JcL2FYQVh4UT09In0%253D Many conversations in the EA world have focused on DEI, conflict management and workplace culture. This slide deck on decoding workplace culture walks through findings from Emtrain’s 2020 Workplace Culture Report and includes information on organizational and workforce dynamics. Specific guidance is offered related to power dynamics, in and out-groups, unconscious bias, social intelligence and pre-existing mindsets. The Workplace Social Indicator Guide walks through indicators for innovation, resilience, inclusion and diversity at the individual and organizational levels.

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