Thursday, February 07, 2008

Free therapy from people who can't write you prescriptions.

As a hospital employee, you get a number of benefits, one of which is access to the Employee Assistance Program. You may be thinking this sounds like a program that helps you come up with rent money, but it isn't. It is free counseling from trained professionals. These people can't write you prescriptions, so there is little point in pretending you are really nervous so they will give you Valium. It is, however, a pretty good excuse to talk about yourself for an hour. I have taken the opportunity to use the Employee Assistance Program occasionally to advise me on what I want to do with my life. And every so often, I like to go back in to let them know what exciting things I've been up to, like what movies I've seen and what rock concerts I've been to and so forth, because I'm pretty sure my counselor, Veronica,* lays up at night wondering how I am and what I thought of Juno.

I went in today because I think I'm at a point where I need to figure out what I want to do with my life (and how it's going to make me modestly famous), and because I wanted to know what she thought of my darker hair color. If you haven't had a session in a while, they make you fill out all of the paperwork again, because hospitals love paperwork. An interesting thing I noticed this time, is where you fill out your relationship status, "Single" is listed just one notch above "Widowed," and is several rungs under "Married" and "Divorced." Maybe I take HIPAA forms too personally, but I feel like they were mocking me. If I hadn't been in before, I might be a little unnerved at the fact that the support staff in the waiting room seemed intent on making sure patients were properly hydrated before seeing a counselor. After the third employee asked me if I wanted any water, I wondered if I would be subjected to a feats of strength test this time.

Career counseling is kind of a funny concept, if you think about it. Can you imagine a tribesman whose job it is to salt meats and fish wandering into Human Resources because he was unhappy with his role in the community? "It says here you cured meats from 1942-1947. Have you ever considered metalworking?"

I spent the entirety of the session trying to con her into making my decisions for me and have her come up with a detailed outline of how I should spend the rest of my life. This didn't seem to work, though, as she insisted I make these choices myself, and had little opinion on whether I should have salad or a sandwich for lunch. I think I might have to go back for a follow-up in the future, because I don't feel that I got a real firm decision on what kind of future she thought I should pursue. And I think the typed outline is missing a few crucial years.


*Name changed to protect anonymity. Not my own, because I'm pretty sure I've lost that by now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I work in the Employee Assistance industry and typically Google Alerts only contain information about industry news. Your blog entry was a nice surprise. I love your humor. If I were your counselor I would suggest that you write full time and eat only red meat…good luck