Penn State

Penn State plans coping, therapy sessions for employees

Bert Alicea, a licensed psychologist who holds forums for employees dealing with traumatic events, remembers one company where no one showed up for the session and others where nearly everybody came.

Either way, he said, is fine.

“They just need to know we’re there,” he said.

Alicea will be one of the certified employee assistance professionals with Health Advocate leading sessions for Penn State employees Aug. 15 and 16 to offer them techniques for coping with recent events stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Employees can go to one of the sessions, “Healing and Moving Forward,” which will start with information about coping and tips for working through challenging times. Those who want to can stay for group discussions. Employees who need additional help can set up an individual session and possibly get information about additional services.

“This isn’t therapy,” Alicea said. “This is an educational format to give people information and behavioral tips to assist them through the grieving process.”

Health Advocate administers Penn State’s employee assistance program. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the university pays $1.43 per employee per month for those services. As part of that contract, a number of “critical incident stress debriefings” hours are offered after traumatic situations.

“My job is to create a level of awareness in people that says, ‘You’re experiencing a normal coping process,’ ” said Alicea, who will be working with three other employee assistance professionals during the Penn State sessions.

He said everyone grieves differently. Some people may benefit from reading educational fliers about the process, others may talk to a local minister and some may not want to talk about it at all.

Alicea said he thinks now is a good time to hold the sessions because the case has moved through the judicial process.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follower her on Twitter @AnneDanahy