History of EAPs


In the 1970’s the civil service employed welfare officers and in 1973 the ESB introduced the first EAP. In 1989, The Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act was introduced in Ireland. The initial focus of the Act was on psychical hazards at work but it later encompassed psychological hazards such as violence, stress, and bullying in the workplace. In the 1990’s the civil service began to recruit Employee Assistance officers.

In 1993, an Inaugural meeting of the Association of Welfare and Employee Assistance Counsellors (A.W.E.A.C.) was held in Dublin Castle on 27th May 1993. There was an increasing recognition of the need for counselling in the workplace and in 1995 a survey of 100 manufacturing and service organisations was conducted by the Irish Management Institute. 50% of those who responded reported that they had a counselling service for their employees covering a wide range of employee problems. Reported benefits included a reduction in absenteeism, increased work performance and morale as well as an increase in productivity. A large majority of organisations expressed high levels of satisfaction with their counselling services.

In May 0f 2001 a chapter of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) was established in Ireland. EAPA is the largest and oldest organisation representing Employee Assistance Professionals. It was established in 1971 with a membership of approximately 5,000 EAP Professionals in the US and International. EAPA designs and publishes practice standards.


During 2001, the Employee Assistance Certification Commission (EACC) introduced the CEAP-I credential to the international community. CEAP-I (Certified Employee Assistance Professional International), is a credential administered by the EACC which indicates a mastery of EA programming knowledge, skills and abilities. Several EA professionals successfully undertook this exam. The first Employee Assistance Professionals in Ireland to receive the CEAPI credential – viz. Lorus Collum, Melissa Darmody and Damian Davy.

In 2004 the new Health Safety & Welfare Bill was published

Current driving forces in EA development include Employers Duty of Care for the following:

  • work stress (work overload)
  • critical Incident stress (C.I.S.)
  • violence at work
  • workplace bullying / harassment / sexual harassment
  • employee drug testing

EAPA Ireland is still working to represent those in the field of EAP provision and recognises the changing nature of the workplace and employees continued need for support. EAP work is provided both internally in organisations where EAP professionals provide direct on-site support and guidance to employees and also externally by counsellors, psychologists and coaches.


Thanks to Damien Davy for providing much of the historical content in this section