Often, counseling gets a negative connotation where people think a person needs to undergo the process because of some social issue. But the truth is, counseling is a good thing as it serves as a guide in a person’s development. It can also help correct improper behaviors. In the Armed Forces, counseling has become an integral part of a soldier’s training along with an army counseling form.

Army Counseling Forms

What is the army counseling form?

The army counseling form or DA Form 4856 is the official form utilized by the Army. This is primarily used to record counseling sessions provided by counselors to soldiers of the US Army. Although this form is a requirement for any counseling session provided to army personnel, the information contained in the form cannot get disclosed to the public. Both the counselor and the counseled must sign the form and both parties get to keep a copy.

The army counseling process

For Amy leaders, counseling is a major leadership development responsibility. This important process of counseling in the army where they need a DA 4856 fillable consists of the following stages:

  • Identifying the need for counseling
    Many organization policies get accomplished through counseling sessions. There can be instances that developmental counseling occurs when the need arises for a more centered two-way communication focused on subordinate development.
    This subordinate development involves observing the subordinate’s performance, then comparing this to the standard. Then the subordinate receives feedback through a counseling session.
  • Preparing for counseling
    Successful counseling entails thorough preparations involving the following:
    When conducting scheduled counseling, choose an environment with minimal interruptions. It should also be completely free of distractions.
    It’s recommended to counsel subordinates during the day. Counseling after the hours of duty may feel rushed and get unfavorable results. How much time needed for counseling depends on how complex the issue is.
    Counseling sessions for subordinates should be subordinate-centered, should be a two-person effort and the subordinate get ample time for preparation. He should receive notice in advance on why, when, and where the counseling session will happen.
    The counseling should also be solidly prepared to become more effective. The counselor should review all the relevant information along with the plan of action with obtainable and clear goals.
    After gathering all the pertinent information, the counselor must determine what to talk about in the counseling session. Note the reason for the counseling session, its aims, and the counselor’s role.
    There are different approaches to counseling as many as there are leaders and these approaches can be either nondirective, directive or a combination of both. Use the strategy that best suits the situation and the subordinate.
    To promote a better atmosphere of conversation between a counselor and a subordinate, the former must establish the right ambiance. It should make the latter feel relaxed.
  • Conducting the counseling session
    Counselors should have flexibility while conducting counseling sessions. The meeting may not always occur in a formal setting. Counselors can have spontaneous encounters with subordinates throughout each day. Such counseling can take place in different venues. Good leaders should always take advantage of events that occur naturally to provide their feedback to their subordinates.
    Formal counseling sessions take place in a prepared setting although it can take place elsewhere as long as the counselor addresses the basic elements of counseling sessions. The main purpose is to have an effective counseling session instead of a mandated series of nonflexible steps. These sessions consist of:
    Opening the session
    The counselor states the session’s purpose in this step. Make sure that a subordinate-centered atmosphere gets established. The counselor can start this by allowing the subordinate to speak.
    Developing a plan of action
    There should be a plan of action in place even before the start of the session which leads to achieving the result desired. This plan specifies what the subordinate should do to achieve the goals of the counseling session.
    Recording and closing the session
    The requirements for recording a counseling session will invariably differ with every case but a good leader can always benefit by documenting the key points of counseling sessions. The leader can use this documentation to reference the agreed-upon plan of action, as well as. the subordinate’s improvements, accomplishments, problems or personal preferences.
    A complete documentation of these counseling aids becomes useful when suggesting recommendations for the subordinate’s schools, professional development, evaluation reports, and promotions.
    For the session’s close, the counselor can summarize the key points then ask the subordinate if he understands the plan of action. It would be a good idea to invite the subordinate to go through the plan of action and what’s expected of the counselor. The counselor should also provide follow-up measures with the subordinate that may be necessary to ensure the plan of action’s successful implementation.
    Following up
    The plan of action should go beyond the counseling session. A follow up ensures the continuity of the plan of action and the assessment of results. After counseling, the counselor must help his subordinates with the implementation of their plans of action. The leader must make observations and evaluation of the process and make adjustments to the plans if necessary.

DA Forms 4856

What are the different types of counseling in the army?

The US Army has made it almost a daily requirement that subordinates undergo some sort of counseling that involves the use of a DA form 4856. Whether this serves as a guide to a soldier’s growth, to correct improper behavior or document career milestones, completing the army counseling form during a counseling session has become a challenge to find the appropriate words to describe the potential and performance of a soldier. Here are the most common types of counseling that may involve the use of a DA 4856 fillable:

  • Event-Oriented Counseling
    This is the most common type that involves counseling for a certain event like addressing a soldier for tardiness, failing an inspection, missing a suspense, and so on.
  • Reception and Integration Counseling
    This counseling gets conducted by the first-line supervisor for new soldiers, NCOs, and Officers who arrive at the unit. It informs soldiers about their professional and personal expectations, job description, information about the unit they plan to join, and more.
  • Crisis Counseling
    This counseling gets conducted by the supervisor when a soldier gets confronted with a crisis like a marital affair, divorce, a death in the family, and any other event that may have caused trauma.
  • Referral Counseling
    This type of counseling happens when a soldier gets referred to another office for counseling. The soldier could get referred to the Army Substance Abuse Program, military Chaplain, Mental Health Agency, and more.
  • Promotion Counseling
    The supervisor of a soldier usually does the Promotion Counseling for this type which gets conducted when a soldier receives eligibility for promotion.
  • Adverse Separation Counseling
    In the event that a soldier does something adverse which causes his separation for military service, his commander or rater must perform this type of counseling. He tells the soldier what he did wrong, what happens next, and what the soldier’s rights are.
  • Performance Counseling
    This is a type of counseling that covers the soldier’s performance for a given period of time, normally either every month or every quarter.
  • Professional Growth Counseling
    This gets conducted to inform a soldier about opportunities like attending military school, career advancement, and other improvement options. It also tells them what they can do to receive a promotion.

What are examples of event oriented counseling?

Counseling types fall into three broad types making it easier to find the counseling examples needed. These three broad types include Event-Oriented Counseling, Professional Growth Counseling, and Performance Counseling.

Event-Oriented Counseling involves a specific situation or event and it may come before events like preparing for non-deployment or deployment and taking part in promotion boards. It may also address events like noteworthy duty performance, an issue with regards to a mission or performance or even a personal problem. Event-oriented counseling examples may include:

  • Specific instances of substandard or superior performance.
  • Crisis counseling.
  • Reception and integration counseling.
  • Adverse separation counseling.
  • Promotion counseling.
  • Referral counseling.
  • Transition counseling.

DA 4856 Fillable

Completing the army counseling form

When filling an army counseling form, it must include the following information:

  • Administrative information
    Full name.
    Rank or grade.
    Counseling date.
    The counselor’s complete name and rank.
  • Background information
    This is a description of the purpose of the counseling. Examples of these could be performance or professional event-oriented counseling to include the leader’s observations and facts before the counseling session.
  • Counseling session summary
    This section gets filled out during or right after the counseling and includes the key points of the discussion, the counselor’s plan of action, the responsibilities of the leader, and section closing.
  • Plan of action assessment
    The counselor provides an explanation of whether the plan led to the desired results. It should get completed by the counselor and the soldier’s leader. This section includes the counselor’s name, the name of the individual undergoing counseling, and the date of the counseling session.
  • Additional Information
    The counselor may include any additional notations section along with the counselor’s name, grade, and signature, the counselee’s name, grade, and signature, and more.

Generally, an army counseling forms can get destroyed when the counselee gets reassigned, when the counselee retires or for separations at ETS.

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