Cathy Bergley and Scott Case of the WSU
Employee Assistance Program.
PULLMAN, Wash. – When the grass is short, the horses bite. For many of us, it’s a difficult time to be working at WSU. Troubles at work can lead to stress at home and stress at home can make troubles at work worse.
 
Fortunately, WSU does have a no-cost, confidential resource for employees who are feeling overwhelmed or need help clearing through the clutter to see a way forward: the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

“We feel very fortunate to have a high-quality EAP program within our Behavioral Health program at Health and Wellness Services,” said Dr. Bruce Wright, executive director of HWS and Counseling and Testing Services. “EAP services for our employees are more important than ever in these times of economic and budget stress.”

 
Scott Case, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is director of WSU’s employee assistance program. The program is part of WSU’s employee benefit package and is available to all employees regardless of work location.

While Pullman employees can access services directly through the EAP office on campus, non-Pullman employees should contact the Washington Department of Personnel Employee Assistance Program at 1-877-313-4455 or go to www.dop.wa.gov/EAP.

 
Support for maintaining balance
 
“It is critically important that our employees have the best support we have the means to provide,” Case said. “Most of us need our jobs more than ever, and the better each of us is able to perform our job, the better our university functions.”
 
While many employees do contact EAP for help dealing with work-related challenges, Case said employees may access services to deal with a wide range of issues that affect employee well-being and productivity, including family, marital or parenting issues; depression; financial stress; problems with drugs or alcohol; grief or loss; anger and anxiety.
 
Stress reduction listening tracks can be completed independently

 
When pressure is mounting in myriad and complicated ways, it’s hard to believe that something as simple as breathing can make a difference. What’s the alternative, right?
 
But, when I sat down to talk with WSU psychologist Scott Case about how to reduce stress, breathing was one of the first things we talked about. As director of WSU’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Case has developed a six-session stress reduction program that can be completed on its own or in conjunction with face-to-face counseling.
 
To reduce stress, you need to figure out what is within your control and try to let go of the rest, Case said. Stress isn’t just a state of mind – it’s also in your body. So, when you focus on your breathing – something you can control, within obvious parameters – you begin to calm your mind and relax your body.
 
Ultimately, Case said, this can create positive effects on our thoughts, feelings, bodies and behaviors, known as the four quadrants.
 
While the listening tracks are available online, Case prefers to meet with employees first to discuss their concerns and goals and help determine which listening tracks might be most beneficial. In addition to focused breathing techniques, there are also listening tracks dealing with state-of-the-art techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, letting go of anger or combating negative self talk.
 
By appointment, WSU employees are also welcome to listen to the tapes in the relaxation room in the EAP suite of offices in the Washington Building on the southwest corner of campus. The EAP offices are adjacent to, but separate from, student-centered WSU Health and Wellness Services.
 
With muted lighting, a comfortable chair and privacy, the relaxation room is a place to get away from it all, if only for 30 minutes or an hour. In fact, Case and Cathy Bergley, the program support supervisor, have worked hard to make EAP offices discreet, welcoming, comfortable and even serene.
 
 “We’ve really tried to come up with a place that feels safe and inviting,” he said.
“Having support for maintaining balance in our lives, problem solving and managing stress is important,” Case said. “Sometimes just having a safe place and qualified person to talk to in a confidential environment can make all the difference.”
 
Open to all employees
 
The program is open to employees at any level or position, from civil service to AP to faculty, and other administrative and academic groups. In addition to one-to-one counseling, Case also provides outreach services, workshops on request and, in some cases, conflict resolution services. A confidential Stress Management Program is also available. (See sidebar)
 
The EAP counseling benefit includes up to five sessions to work through a specific issue, Case said, but employees can return to EAP if other issues arise, provided he has an opening in his schedule.
 
Some concerns just don’t lend themselves to being addressed in five sessions or less, Case said, so if an employee needs or wants long-term counseling, the EAP office has a list of local providers whose services would have to be paid for by the employee and his or her health insurance. But, he said, for employees dealing with a specific issue, the EAP program allows them to consult with someone relatively quickly without the hassle of going through an insurance company and getting prior approval.
 
The Employee Assistance Program is located on the ground floor of the Washington Building in suite G60. To find out more or schedule an appointment, call 509-335-5759 or visit http://www.eap.wsu.edu.