The drivers of demand for spiritual care in EAP

This article highlights the value of specialist spiritual care in employee assistance programs: Journal of Employee Assistance, (See pages 32 -35) published by the The Employee Assistance Professionals Association*.

“There are a number of factors supporting the adoption of spiritual care in EAP:

  • Moral injury – many in the Great Resignation are leaving jobs because they are no longer willing to tolerate actions that conflict with their personal ethics and values. This kind of suffering is often ambiguous and difficult to name, but is now often being called moral injury or distress. Employers can retain valued talent by providing ethically and culturally sensitive spiritual care specialists to support these employees in working through their distress.
  • Positive religious coping – religion is rated very important by 56% of Americans, according to Pew Forum on Religion. That number rises to 77%, if you include those rating it somewhat important as well. Many people have found that faith and spiritual practices help them through a challenging time, so they are inclined to seek more support in the spiritual domain when they encounter other problems in life.
  • Times of crisis; clients may want to resolve questions of faith if they feel they have lost their way, are questioning their purpose, or fear for their lives, for example. While a generalist provider is likely aware that mindfulness meditation is a wonderful resource to cope with such worries, there may be a lot more to meeting a client’s spiritual needs than simply teaching a helpful breathing or awareness technique. A spiritual care specialist will explore to identify deeper spiritual issues. For example, a Vietnam Veteran may be struggling at work. A spiritual assessment may find he grew up with a strong sense of faith and connection to a church, but lost that during the war. The issues for such a client are likely to be complex, including the inner moral conflict between what they know to be right v’s what they are asked to do in battle for their country. They may also feel guilt or shame about their actions. Some veterans feel spiritually wounded by the abandonment they felt by being ordered into danger by the officer responsible for their safety. These are spiritual injuries that can impact a healthy connection to self, to a belief in justice, a higher power, work and community.
  • Many who fear a diagnosis avoid mental health care. This is illustrated by the experience of a provider for a major health plan who found that subscribers were not using their preventive health benefits. When they asked why, subscribers said they did not trust the medical system. The health plan provider asked who they did trust, and the subscribers said their spiritual care providers.”

* The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) is the world’s largest, oldest, and most respected membership organization for employee assistance professionals. With members in over 40 countries around the globe, EAPA is the world’s most relied upon source of information and support for and about the employee assistance profession.



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