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Senior Executive

Employment Assistance Programs

Covid 19

With the arrival of Covid-19...

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Organisations have never faced the level of mental health challenges that Covid-19 has brought -- the fear of the unknown, the job loss, the new responsibilities that an executive and Board have, the witnessing of loved ones contracting the disease, the complete transformation of the way they work overnight.  My experience in executive psychotherapy provides a solution that not only addresses their psychological challenges but also coaches them how to: on how to:
 

  • Coach their people through their psychological distress
     

  • Handle gracefully and respectfully the people they have to dismiss because of the economic challenge to the organisation
     

  • Adjust their emotional, physical and spiritual habits and build their resilience through unprecedented work situations in which the majority of work is done at home on video conference amidst children, pets, unstructured schedules 
     

  • Knowing that this situation has no end in sight and many of the ways we understood leadership practices and organisational structures are no longer valid 

Why are Senior Execs seeking a different type of EAP? 

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As a 20-year executive coach and leadership advisor to ASX Boards for CEO succession, I have worked with executives facing an enormous amount of stress.  It is the primary reason I went back to quality as a psychotherapist in 2008.

 

As a former HR Director, both at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Cochlear, I have contracted and managed the Employment Assistance Program for the entire organisation.  ​The EAP should now become an essential program to support the mental health of all employees in times when they need it -- for both outside and inside mental health challenges.

What I have noticed is that the more senior an employee is in the organisation, the more tendency they do not turn to this service. There are many reasons for this: 

  • They can afford to pay for their own mental health professional
     

  • Their professional has known them quite some time and will have more context for the challenge
     

  • They feel more secure in this professional handling of the confidentiality of the situation, which becomes more critical and sometimes litigious the higher you rise in an organisation
     

  • They do not believe that the EAP-sourced mental health professional could understand the corporate and political environment they are working within.

Dear Leaders,

Your mental health matters. 

 

Speak to someone who understands the psychological issues challenging you in the uppermost levels of your organisation. 

I've been there myself. 

Katharine McLennan

Executive Psychotherapist

Former HR Director

Former Assessor of ASX50 CEO Succession

Types of issues i have seen firsthand C-suite Executives are dealing with daily: 

  • How to respond to the fear, logistical challenge, and uncertainty arising from the Covid-19 challenge in both themselves and their team members
     

  • Difficulty with managing their current career
     

  • Depression, anxiety, grief, bereavement, insomnia and other mental and emotional challenges
     

  • Addictions - Alcoholism, drugs, food, gambling or sex addictions
     

  • Nervous breakdowns, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts
     

  • Difficulty dealing with failures at work 
     

  • Difficulty managing their direct reports, a particular employee, their manager, their Board, or their peers
     

  • Dismissal issues for themselves or their direct reports in restructures, downsizing, disciplinary
     

  • Stress about salaries, bonuses, performance ratings, promotions, demotions
     

  • The "quitting" desire --wanting to change their life direction
     

  • The "impostor syndrome" -- believing that they don't belong in their position--that they are not "good enough" 
     

  • Learning how to balance the mind through meditation and breathing
     

  • Family issues, relationship issues, domestic violence 
     

  • Purposelessness, despair, anger management

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There is an ever-growing need for executives to seek outside help in their mental health. Having a psychotherapist who has also been inside organisations at the C-suite level and has advised this level for over two decades means that you have someone who understands your issues and the business context.   

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Why come to me for a Senior Executive EAP?

I provide executives with an alternative to either the regular EAP psychologist or reliance on their executive coach.  It is rare to find people in Australia who have corporate experience, years of organisational coaching and a robust psychotherapeutic background. Listed below are seven value propositions that I offer you in an executive-tailored EAP service that you will not find from a standard EAP service. 

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1. The executive with a psychotherapist who can explore mental and emotional challenges in the context of the business, political and market challenges.
 

I have a firsthand comprehension of many of the types of stresses and mental health issues that arise in organisations.  This comprehension comes from being a senior executive myself within ASX corporations as well as serving as a high-level strategy and leadership advisor to the C-suite for over 20 years. I understand the executive's life from firsthand experience.

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2. The executive relates to a psychotherapist who speaks their business language.
 

I am adept in analysing financials, markets, shareholders, customers, suppliers and growth prospects. My insights are a reflection of my years of working as a strategy advisor on behalf of Booz&Co.  The success I had with my MBA at Stanford is further testament to my in-depth understanding of the strategic and financial challenges of an executive and how these influence mental health.  As an advisor to the executive team and CEO individually, I have backstage wisdom that the majority of counsellors or psychologists do not have.
 

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3. The executive understands how the culture of their organisation has shaped their mental and emotional challenges.  They change from a passive victim of a destructive culture to a constructive driver of a constructive culture. 
 

I have studied for years how organisational culture impacts politics, behaviour, leadership issues, and Board challenges. With many years of analysing organisational culture and leading culture transformation projects, I understand how different cultures cause different mental health issues and how these issues can proliferate across the organisation very rapidly.  

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4. The executive works with a psychotherapist who can share many years of insights into what other executives face and how they have healed.  These examples spark ideas and also reassure that the executive is not unique in their distress. 
 

I have an insider's view of the mental pressures faced by C-suite executives with the years of one-on-one in coaching and assessing leaders for their C-suite careers (many of which were CEO candidates in ASX50 companies). These mental pressures are entirely different for the people they manage. ​

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5. The executive and organisation can assure themselves of the quality assurance backing the psychotherapeutic advice. ​

 

I am an accredited therapist with the Psychotherapists and Counsellors Federation of Australia. This accreditation requires me to report to a supervisor who acts as both a critic and a soundboard at least 20 hours a year. PACFA also needs me to stay relevant through continuous professional development.
 

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6. The executive can feel assured that the psychotherapist has worked over a decade on most of the emotional and mental challenges that arise in executive life.  
 

I offer an integrated approach to strategy and leadership coaching with my psychotherapeutic qualifications and experience.  Having learned that it is almost impossible to separate business issues from psychological issues. I have thus extended my coaching into such psychotherapeutic challenges such as depression, anxiety, addiction, grief, domestic violence, attention deficit syndrome, PTSD, to name a few. Being able to offer coaching and psychotherapy seamlessly is not something most coaches should do ethically if they are not qualified in mental health

 

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7.  The executive who faces forced or voluntary departure has a therapist has many years of advising executives on their career choices and will address both the pragmatic and psychological challenges facing their transition
 

I understand how mental health challenges affect the long-term career prospects of an executive. This insight becomes even more important in the case of forced departures. I work on the psychological fallout of job loss at the same time that I "co-develop" a search plan. I have years of experience with and multiple contacts in most of the large executive search firms, having worked inside these firms and having been served by them in my role as an HR Director.  

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How could a separate Senior EAP work?

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Discussing the initial logistics of setting up the service would depend on the organisation's preference.  Here are some suggestions.  These are not exhaustive. 

 

  • Working within the current EAP Provider as a sub-contractor so that the organisation could have one billing and contact process​
     

  • Providing a separate billing and access number that would work as part of the package that senior executives would receive
     

  • Organising a team of similarly qualified psychotherapists/ counsellors -- who also know the corporate environment intimately
     

  • Setting up a 24-hour hotline that could go straight to me in case of an emergency session (or, again, working through the current EAP to have this set-up working)
     

  • Meeting with a sample of executives in either psychotherapy or in executive coaching and let them be the judge

 

  • Providing the organisation with optional services that inform them of the impact on mental health through culture, other team members and the level of education about mental health by managers.  This could include:
     

    • An investigation of the perceptions of the individual as a 360 interview process​ (or with any various 360 tool -- see the range of tools I offer on both this page on a 2020+ leadership capability "Neuroleader" 360 survey as well as three other 360s: Leadership Circle, Human Synergistics LSI and the Center for Creative Leadership's Benchmarks 
       

    • The analysis of the culture of the organisation through interviews focus groups and cultural assessment tools in which I am accredited  -- this may uncover a trend of mental health issues existing either at the top or throughout the culture 
       

    • The facilitation of teams -- to understand how mental health issues can be dealt with to lift the performance of the team 
       

    • The general education of managers including one-on-one consultation in how to deal with mental health issues with their direct reports, peers or managers