Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
About the Program
The mission of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is to contribute to a healthier and more productive work environment by assisting employees and their families with problems that affect their lives both on and off the job. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recognizes that many kinds of personal problems, which often affect job performance, can be resolved if they are properly identified and assistance is rendered in a timely fashion.
Everyone, on occasion, is challenged by personal problems and concerns. These may include family or relationship issues, work-related stresses, issues about alcohol or drug use, situations when legal help is needed, financial pressures, the loss of a loved one or health concerns such as depression or anxiety. The EAP provides confidential assistance to all employees, faculty, designated trainees and students and retirees to help resolve problems that effect their personal lives and performance on the job. Immediate family members of employees also are eligible for these services.
Management personnel consult with the EAP when their employees are affected by stresses that may impact their work performance. Supervisors are provided guidance and training about how to intervene when an employee may be impaired due to emotional stresses or other factors.
What We Do
- Assessment, short-term consultation and referral services for a variety of personal and work-related stressors - Employees may meet with an EAP licensed counselor who will help determine the best course of action to approach stressful circumstances. Assistance is available for any work-related issues that are creating emotional distress. EAP counselors have the training and experience to assist employees and their families with a wide range of life situations. Along with many others, these include depression and anxiety, family-related stressors such as single parenting, discussing sensitive issues with youngsters and teens, helping a friend or teenager deal with drug or alcohol problem and resolving domestic conflict (pdf).
- Faculty assistance - Faculty members and their immediate family members may directly contact designated consultants for assistance.
- Critical incident stress debriefing - Assistance is available to a work group affected by the death of a coworker or other traumatic event.
- Personal legal assistance - A legal help line is staffed by contracted attorneys who provide consultation at no cost to the employee for a wide variety of personal legal matters.
- Management consultation and training - Managers and supervisors may also consult with and make a referral to the EAP of an employee with known or suspected behavioral or personal problems that may be affecting work performance. Individual consultation and supervisor training in related areas is provided.
- Employee training - Training and support groups are offered to eligible participants on a variety of related topics.
EAP information is kept strictly confidential, consistent with applicable laws and professional standards. In the case of a self-referral or supervisor-suggested referral, information is not released to anyone without the authorized consent of the client. In the case of a formal supervisor referral, the EAP notifies the supervisor to confirm only whether or not the employee has contacted the EAP and whether recommendations have been followed.
Who We Are
The above services are provided by mental health professionals who have worked in the EAP field for many years, are licensed by the state of Texas to provide mental health services at the independent level, and in most cases are also certified employee assistance professionals.
There are three full-time counselors (including the program director) and several contract providers, especially in Bastrop and Smithville locations. All have a master's or doctoral degree in clinical social work or psychology (licensed master social worker, advanced clinical practitioner or doctorate degree in clinical psychology).
Ferdinand J. Pleines, LCSW, CEAP, EAP, Behavioral Health Coordinator
Ferdinand goes by his middle name "Joe." He joined the EAP in October 2010. Joe has a master's degree in social work and 23 years of experience providing EAP services in a hospital setting. He is a licensed clinical social worker and certified employee assistance professional, and has provided counseling services to individuals, couples, families, and groups. His expertise includes working with adults experiencing relationship problems in their personal lives and helping employees deal with coworker conflicts. Joe also provides consultation to managers and faculty who are confronted with unexpected workplace dilemmas.
Angela Passaretti, LCSW, EAP Specialist
Angela is a licensed clinical social worker who has been practicing since 1987. Angela has a master's degree in social work and has worked in a variety of settings providing counseling to individuals, couples, families and groups. Angela is a mediator trained in community and family law mediation, and has conducted mediations in the workplace and in academic environments. Her professional interests include conflict resolution, women’s empowerment and working with people of diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. Angela has worked in The University of Texas system as an EAP specialist since January 2003 and has been at MD Anderson since December 2004.
Mark Berg, LPC-S, CEAP, SAP, C-DAPA-A, EAP Specialist
Mark Berg, LPC-S, CEAP, SAP, C-DAPA-A
Mark began his career as a counselor and employee assistance professional in 1987. He is a licensed professional counselor - supervisor level, certified as an employee assistance professional, and also has substance abuse related certifications. He managed an EAP in the airline industry for 7 years and also provided related services to local hospitals. His professional expertise includes assisting organizations and their employees after critical incidents and disasters. Mark also provided clinical services to families, children and regularly consulted with local schools. He is committed to assisting employees experiencing work or personal stresses, and to managers who need help with workplace issues.
About our Services
What Can I Expect When Accessing Services for Myself?
The EAP staff normally will conduct an assessment during one or more personal interviews (legal assistance may not require a personal interview). The counselor will ask a variety of questions related to social, psychological, medical and work histories and will suggest some strategies to deal with immediate stresses.
Recommendations may include a specialized evaluation; mental health or substance abuse treatment; family, marital or relationship counseling; a support group or educational class or other resources. Recommendations will be made on how to deal with the impact (if any) of stresses on work performance, attendance or relationships with coworkers and/or supervisors.
How Do I Access Services?
- Call (713) 745-6901 during business hours from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, for information, consultation or to arrange a meeting with one of the staff.
How Do I Access the Faculty Assistance Program?
The Faculty Assistance Program is a diagnostic, consultation and referral service for members of the academic and medical staff who are experiencing personal, relationship or work-related difficulties. An experienced clinician is available to help guide you to solutions.
Is There a Cost Associated with Using the EAP?
There is no cost to the user for EAP services or the legal helpline. Payment for services received from providers other than the EAP are the responsibility of the individual receiving the services. In most cases these services are covered under the user's health insurance plan.
Where Is the EAP Located?
In most instances, services are provided at the Mid Campus One building (1MC) located at 7007 Bertner Ave., Suite 1MC2.2430. A contracted specialist is also available in Bastrop for employees working in the Bastrop and Smithville areas (please contact the Houston office for a referral).
How Do I Obtain Personal Legal Assistance?
Employees, faculty, designated trainees and students and retirees. Immediate family members of employees and faculty are also eligible for these services.
All personal legal matters including:*
- Family law (such as divorce, child custody, juvenile, child support)
- Consumer law
- Elder law
- Immigration law
- Wills, estate planning
- Personal injury
* Restrictions - Personal legal assistance is not available when the issues involve MD Anderson, its employees or contracted vendors and providers.
There are no costs to consult with the EAP legal helpline. In some instances, the attorney will suggest retaining legal services and can refer you to a lawyer at a 25% reduction to his or her standard billing rate. In this case, the employee will be responsible for fees incurred.
Call the Employee Assistance Program at (713) 745-6901 during business hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Briefly describe the legal issue and the best way for the attorney to confidentially contact you. Your information will remain strictly confidential in accordance with Employee Assistance Program policy.
Talk with the attorney
The contracted legal service attorney will normally call you the next business day and make arrangements to consult with you by phone. You will have the opportunity to get your questions answered and will be given independent guidance on various options to resolve the issues. In the event that you may need to retain legal services, the attorney can refer you to a lawyer in your area for a reduced fee (refer to “Costs” listed above).
When Do Supervisors and Managers Consult with the EAP?
When needing guidance regarding employee performance, behavior or attendance issues that may be related to personal/stress problems
When considering a management referral to the EAP
When an employee may be impaired on the job due to emotional problems, the use of alcohol or other drugs or other related factors
Learn more about recognizing signs of impairment and supervisor responsibilities (pdf).
Other Programs & Services
Resources for Employee Health & Well-being
Employee Accident Report (pdf)
Report needlesticks to 713-604-OUCH (6824)
Contact a wellness coach at
713-745-WELL (9355) or