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Should I have a third party present when counseling a female?

What are the requirements, if any, to have a third person present when conducting counseling behind closed doors with a Soldier of the opposite sex?

There are no regulatory requirements. Usually there is no need for a third party to be present. If you are conducting monthly counseling sessions and all of your Soldiers are counseled one-on-one with the exception of the female who is counseled with a third party it will most likely create an issue. Why are you treating her differently? Has she done anything or acted in a way that warrants you bringing in a third party?  She will most likely feel that you do not trust her which will negatively impact the morale of your team.  Let’s look at this in reverse: How would you feel if you were the sole man in an otherwise all-female team and your supervisor brought in another female every time she counseled you?

posted on 06/12/2012 under Q&A
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training..

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  • Part-Time-Commander

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    I only had a third party present with females when I was doing a negative counseling. But I did the same thing with males for negative counselings.

    If you do the right thing, you really don’t have much to worry about.

    Just my thoughts.

  • Marvin Moore

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    Can a person be called back to duty for trial after retirement?

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Yes, you can be recalled to active duty or be called to testify if you have retired. I do not know the specifics of such actions but have seen it occur twice during my career.

  • SSG P.

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    I had a similar situation years ago when I had a female Private transfered to our battalion due to an ongoing legal investigation for an alleged rape by her first line supervisor at her previous unit.

    She was in my squad, and while I did not pass any judgement on her either way, I didn’t want to be a potential victim of false allegations if there was the case at the last unit.

    While doing counselings I would keep all my soldiers in the office, and I would call them in one at a time to a semi-private corner where we had office dividers, and counsel them there one by one.

    That way I was treating all soldiers the same, and I made sure everyone was present to avoid any regretable situations to all soldiers present.

  • Jo B. Rusin

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    I think this reply is exactly right. Mark’s point about reversing the situation is excellent. I first heard this many years ago in reference to dealing with black soldiers, but it is still a very useful test.

    • Part-Time-Commander

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      Whenever you create a double standard, whether with males or females or by race (or anything else), you really create problems for yourself. Besides, I’ve never had a female rater have a witness when she counseled me (for a negative counseling). So why do males need to do it? Just my two cents.

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