Fillable DA Form 4856 | Basics, Types, How to Fill

DA Form 4856 is also known as the Developmental Counseling Form. The (DA) Department of the Army working in the United States issues it. The leaders of the unit can use it for organizing different counseling sessions in structural terms. The form has been edited and is denoted as the DD Form 4856, an incorrect reference. Its issuance date was 1st July 2014.

It is a type of Developmental Counseling Form specifically for the counseling sessions held with the military soldiers. Counselors who are serving the soldiers of the United States Army complete this form.

The purpose of filling out this form is to monitor the progress of all the sessions being held for the counseling. Unfortunately, this document is not accessible by the public as it contains:

  • Personal information such as soldier’s name, rank, and name of the organization
  • Required information of the counselor
  • Reason for conducting the counseling session
  • Points to be discussed
  • Action plan for the soldier

The counselor and the soldier must sign the form, and both of them should have a copy of the DA Form 4856.

The unit leaders might get assistance from the form in different situations. They can arrange career counseling sessions to address the negative behaviors, give feedback to those who have performed extraordinarily in a particular event, encourage others to give outstanding performances and advise them to be disciplined during the events, and arrange a follow-up session once the counseling has been done.

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Editable DA Form 4856 (16) for Excel

    Types of Developmental Counseling Forms

    Developmental counseling is referred to be one of the crucial steps for training new soldiers at each level. The leader’s responsibility is to train them appropriately, and they must have complete apprehension about this process.

    However, they should realize the importance of counseling sessions for achieving the targeted goals of the organization because the soldiers can be encouraged to perform in a better way.

    Through regular counseling, unit leaders become able to explore the personal interests of soldiers, help the juniors in how they can perform their duties, guide them on how to deal with different problems, develop self-confidence in them, and identify any issues in the initial stages.

    Based on the reason for arranging a counseling session, there are three major developmental counseling types: ‘Event Counseling’, ‘Performance Counseling’, and ‘Professional-growth Counseling’.

    These are explained as:

    Event counseling

    To train the junior soldiers for a particular practice, event counseling should be done. They can be trained for being a part of:

    • Training programs
    • Advertising events
    • Placement opportunities

    Specific instances of superior or substandard performance

    This type of counseling is mostly done immediately after an event has been conducted. The purpose of arranging this session is to recognize the efforts of those who performed well. Those persons are also addressed whose performance was not up to the mark during the previous event, they are told about the areas of improvement required from their side. For this purpose, the standards of the organization are kept in mind.

    Reception and integration counseling

    Reception and Integration Counseling is done for the new soldiers who have recently joined the army. The counseling aims to introduce them to the organization, its rules, and regulations, different procedures for dealing with any kind of problem, requirements, demands, etc. Through this, the newcomers become able to realize their code of conduct and responsibilities.

    Crisis counseling

    Juniors are trained how to deal with any shocking news by remaining composed and calm in such situations by providing them crisis counseling. Their minds are prepared for different, worse conditions.

    Referral counseling

    The situations which could not be managed by the leader himself require to be outsourced to the related person. In this case, the juniors are referred to any doctor, senior Army Officer, rehabilitation centers, etc. because the particular leader has not any experience of dealing with such a situation.

    Promotion counseling

    Promotion counseling should be done by the leaders of every department for the best personnel of that particular department. Juniors are told about their eligibility of getting promoted to a higher rank and the persons not eligible for the higher rank should also be addressed and told about their weak points.

    Transition counseling

    Transition counseling is given to those subordinates who are going to leave this field or have completed their tenure or any getting retired. The personnel are guided according to their potential and interests which were already recognized in the counseling sessions conducted with them.

    Adverse separation counseling

    Through adverse separation counseling, soldiers are directed about all the rules and regulations of the organization in advance and they are also informed about all the possible consequences after being caught for any misconduct.

    Performance counseling

    The performance counseling is done to follow up on the performance of junior soldiers. Some objectives are set by the counselor and the junior soldier after a mutual conversation between them. The performance of the junior is evaluated within a specific time. Counseling should be done at the initial stage and during the specified time.

    Through this counseling session, the leader would be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the soldier. Because then a leader can effectively guide his subordinate on how to improve his potential and fortify it.

    This session helps the army personnel to know about the values and ethics required for this post. Once they become familiar with the requirements, they would perform better to accomplish the organization’s objectives.

    Professional-growth counseling

    Professional-growth counseling is done to achieve the organizational objectives by better performance of a person. An action plan for that person is made based on their potential to develop and progress in their career. The leader may set some targets and ways to achieve that target for the subordinate.

    It can be done by making them aware of various prospects of their duties, training programs, and seminars and telling them about other options that could help them succeed. The action plan for every person depends on their potential and interests.

    Filling Out the DA Form 4856

    The form is essential, so it should be filled out correctly and adequately. Following are the guidelines by which all the sections of this form can be filled appropriately:

    Section 1: Administrative data

    In this section, the personal information of the person being counseled is included.

    Such as:

    1. Name of the person being counseled
    2. Rank
    3. Counseling date
    4. Name of the organization
    5. Counselor name and his/her title.

    Section 2: Background information

    The counselor mainly fills this section before conducting the counseling session. First, the counselor mentions the objective of the counseling session and all the associated important information and observations due to which the session will be arranged. e.g; event-based counseling, performance-related, or any other reason.

    Section 3: Counseling summary

    This section of form should be filled during the counseling session. If it’s not possible, then it should be completed immediately after the session has been conducted. Prior listing the tasks should be avoided because the objectives can only be set after knowing about the potential of a subordinate. It will make the communication effective. Once the counseling session is over, specific objectives and goals are then decided according to the potential of personnel to be achieved within the decided framework of time.

    So this section will involve:

    • Main points to be discussed: The purpose and objectives of conducting the counseling session should be mentioned.
    • Action plan: Give an appropriate plan to the juniors about how these targets could be achieved and what efforts are to be done for this purpose.
    • Concluding section: The summary of outcomes of the whole session is to be made that would help in the next follow-up for checking to ensure whether the listed goals have been achieved or not.
    • Responsibilities of the leader: The leader’s responsibilities are to be enlisted so that those could be recognized by the leader and subordinates also.

    This section should also be signed by the individual being counseled. The feedback of the junior should also be considered an essential part of this whole process.

    Section 4: Plan of action’s assessment

    In this section, the already developed action plan is monitored to trace the progress of subordinates for assessing whether they have gained any advantage out of it or not. Likewise, it would help the leader to see whether the objectives have been accomplished or not.

    The counselor and the individual being counseled have to fill this section together. This section includes the counselor’s name, rank, and signature, the individual’s name, rank, and signature who is being counseled, the date, and additional information about the counseling session.


    The DA Form 4856 is valid till the transfer, separation from this profession, or getting retired.


    When a person joins a new place, everything is new for them, and proper guidance is required to become adjusted there. In addition, they may face some difficulties for which they would need proper counseling. So proper and appropriate counseling is required for every person at this stage. Developmental counseling is a way of helping out the fresh employees of the army. Their capabilities and resilience could be enhanced through different counseling sessions. In this way, they could be able to achieve success and development in their career after becoming familiar with all the opportunities available.

    About This Article

    William Lehr
    Authored by:
    Human Resources Specialist, MS Office Expert
    William Lehr combines a profound understanding of human resources with a certified expertise in Microsoft Office, making him a dual asset in any professional setting. With a keen insight into the intricacies of HR, William adeptly manages talent acquisition, employee relations, and organizational development. His Microsoft Office proficiency further amplifies his effectiveness, allowing him to design and implement seamless workflows, reports, and analytical tools. Whether it's optimizing HR processes or crafting efficient MS Office solutions, William's comprehensive skill set ensures that organizational objectives are met with precision and excellence.

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