A Deep Dive Into The Army Counseling Form

Making Developmental Counseling Easier for Leaders


As an army leader, you know the importance of developmental counseling in creating a cohesive unit. But in the past, you have likely found it difficult to find the right resources to use for each type of counseling. Now, with the updated DA Form 4856 (Army Counseling Form), Army leaders can simplify their counseling efforts with a dynamic form that offers easily accessible templates for all types of counseling. The DA Form 4856 (Development Counseling Form) was recently published by the Army Publishing Directorate, offering an easy-to-use platform for leaders to resource the counseling needs of their units. With this form, Soldiers can access the appropriate template for different types of counseling within the same form, making it much simpler to provide the right guidance and development opportunities for each individual in their unit.

The form is based on the three types of counseling described in Army Techniques Publication 6-22.1, The Counseling Process, and also includes another template for general counseling which may be necessary for specific administrative or legal purposes. Overall, the updated Army Counseling Form provides Army leaders with a powerful and convenient tool to help create a unified, successful team. Get ready to modernize your leadership and take your developmental counseling to the next level!


Army leaders worked hard to update the Army counseling form, the DA Form 4856. This form is used to establish meaningful dialog between leaders and their Soldier to address any issues that need to be discussed. The Army’s Counseling Form, DA Form 4856, has been widely used by the Army community and the updates are intended to further help in establishing trust and transparent communication between a Soldier and their leader. The form can be used to document topics such as performance feedback, recognition, corrective actions, and issues disclosure. Additionally, it can also be used for mentorship and/or career guidance.

The Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 6-22.1 offers doctrinal guidance for all leaders, military and civilian, to plan, prepare, execute, and assess counseling actions. This publication is also used by trainers and educators in the Army as a reference. Commanders, staffs, and subordinates must ensure their decisions and actions adhere to the United States, international and host-nation laws, and regulations. In addition, commanders of all levels must guarantee their soldiers obey the law of war and rules of engagement, as outlined in FM 27-10. This publication applies to the Active Army, Army National Guard/Army National Guard of the United States, and United States Army Reserve unless otherwise stated. For guidance on addressing Army Civilian counseling requirements, leaders should contact their local civilian personnel office. ATP 6-22.1 provides essential information on performance evaluation, leader development and professional growth opportunities for all Army personnel.

The Army’s counseling form gives leaders the ability to better understand the state of their Soldiers’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, gauge the level of understanding of their Soldiers on various topics, and ensure that the goals and objectives of the Army are being met.

The updates to the Army’s Counseling Form are intended to provide leaders with more standardized and comprehensive tool on how to better communicate and mentor their Soldiers. The updates will also provide NCOs with the opportunity to be more proactive in preventing issues that may arise due to lack of communication and understanding. Ultimately, the updated Army’s Counseling Form, Form 4856, should make it easier for NCOs to build strong relationships with their Soldiers and make sure that the Army’s mission is being successfully accomplished.

Overview of the Army Counseling Form

The Department of the Army recently updated DA Form 4856, the form used for performance evaluation and leader development counseling. This new version is a dynamic form that allows users to change templates on the fly depending on the type of counseling being performed. For instance, if an NCO is counseling a soldier, then they can click on the PDF for different types of circumstances like a performance review or recommending the soldier for promotion. This update reflects the U.S. military’s commitment to refining its noncommissioned officer corps, which is long considered the backbone of the Army. In contrast, Russia’s lack of a significant NCO element in leadership has been cited as one of its major contributing factors to its struggles in its campaign to capture Ukraine. This updated form can be utilized to enhance professional growth and leader development, ultimately ensuring that members of the U.S. military remain at the top of their game.

The United States Army has recently released an updated version of its counseling form, the DA Form 4856. This form is used when providing briefings, counseling and training to military members and is an important part of Army life. The new 4856 offers an easier way for leaders to quickly evaluate, document, counsel, and record performance information for their soldiers. 

It utilizes a streamlined format in which each section focuses on one of the key elements of counseling such as goal setting, progress reviews, corrective actions and closing actions. Each section provides clear guidance on the topics to be discussed, the goals to be achieved, the techniques to be used and the expected outcome. This helps to ensure that leaders are properly recording and documenting the counseling sessions. 

The form also highlights the necessity of developing a plan of action that is tailored to the individual’s needs. This helps to ensure that soldiers receive the best outcome from the counseling session. Additionally, the form outlines how to measure progress and when to take corrective action. This can be extremely helpful when addressing any performance issues that a soldier may have. 

Lastly, the updated DA Form 4856 includes a space for both the leader and the soldier to provide feedback and input on the counseling session. This allows for more effective communication and understanding between the two parties, resulting in improved relationships and more successful counseling sessions. 

Overall, the updated Army DA Form 4856 provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for successful counseling sessions. This form will help to ensure that Army leaders are able to effectively counsel and train their soldiers, fostering a culture of professional development and growth.

How Does the Updated DA Form 4856 Benefits Army Leaders?

The Army has recently updated its DA Form 4856, commonly referred to as the “Counseling Form,” with a dynamic version that can be tailored to the type of counseling being performed. This new version was created in late 2021 by the Center for the Army Profession and Leadership in response to a directive from Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston. It is based on the three types of counseling described in Army Techniques Publication 6-22.1, The Counseling Process, as well as a fourth type that can be used for specific administrative or legal purposes. The form also features an updated Privacy Act Statement to ensure compliance with current regulations. 

This new version of DA Form 4856 has been extensively tested and reviewed across the Army, with more than 99% of users finding it helpful and intuitive to use. The form features dynamic templates that can be adjusted on the fly based on the type of counseling being performed, such as performance reviews or promotion recommendations. It is also accessible on smartphones, allowing leaders to easily access and use it when needed. 

The new DA Form 4856 provides sound doctrinal advice for leaders responsible for planning, preparing, executing and assessing counseling actions. While commanders still own and are responsible for their counseling programs, the form can provide assistance in a variety of counseling scenarios. To learn more about the form and view a “how to” video, visit the CAPL website.

Tips for Effective Developmental Counseling

Developmental counseling is an important part of the Army’s ability to develop young leaders. Unfortunately, many Soldier’s experience one-sided discussion as a mandatory requirement for specific events or to address and document a unwanted behavior. Leaders should use counseling as part of a Soldier development program. Documenting discussions between supervisors and subordinates helps ensure clear communication and growth in the workplace. By understanding effective counseling strategies, individuals can not only develop their own skills but also promote a healthy organizational culture in the Army.

By understanding the different kinds of counseling. Directive counseling involves giving a direct order or instruction, while discussion counseling focuses on a back-and-forth dialogue to facilitate problem-solving. Additionally, motivational counseling aims to inspire and motivate individuals to pursue certain objectives. Ultimately, which type of counseling is used will depend on the situation, so it is important to be able to adapt the approach for different scenarios. You may not always want to rely on a career-focused mentorship. Don’t forget the whole Soldier Concept by using the Five Dimensions of Personal Readiness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and family.

Army 5 Dimensions of Personal Readiness
Photo Credit: Army Resilience Directorate

When engaging in counseling, it is also essential to set mutually agreed-upon realistic goals. This can help to ensure that expectations are managed, and that both the supervisor and subordinate understand the tasks at hand. Moreover, setting goals can help to create milestones that can be tracked and measured. 

In order for developmental counseling to be successful, however, it is also essential to keep track of progress. This can be achieved by implementing periodic reviews, which can help to hold both the supervisor and subordinate accountable. By having frequent check-ins, there is an opportunity to provide feedback and adjust plans if necessary.

Overall, effective counseling is an important part of the Army’s new DA Form 4856. Understanding and utilizing the counseling techniques outlined above can help to foster an environment of growth and development among members of the Army.


The Army’s new counseling form is a step in the right direction. 

The army’s newly updated counseling form brings much-needed changes to the Army’s counseling process. It considers changes in leadership that have occurred in the modern armed forces and makes the process of recording and documenting counseling, mentoring and professional development activities easier for both leaders and soldiers. In addition to making it easier for leaders and soldiers to document the counseling process, this new 4856 also looks to foster open communication between both parties. This can ultimately benefit the morale and performance of the entire unit and organization. 

Overall, the Army’s new counseling form helps to promote a better experience for all members of the armed forces. It provides a platform for leaders to openly communicate and offer guidance and mentorship to their soldiers, while also allowing soldiers to record their successes and challenges in a structured form. It is an important first step in ensuring that the army remains a top-notch force and in ensuring that soldiers are always provided with the best possible support.

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