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The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

Is verbal counseling a type of counseling?

Is verbal counseling a type of counseling and what do I do after I verbally counsel a Soldier?

The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

Short answer is yes, it is a type of counseling. What to do after the verbal counseling all depends the situation.

Verbal counseling

Verbal counseling can be as simple as an on the spot correction, a pat on the back, or a frank discussion.

Verbal counseling is used for minor infractions.  It is wise to document your verbal counseling in your leaders note book in the event you need to reference it again in the future.  Your note should include: time, date, and what happened.  Just a few lines to jar your memory.  You can use this information in monthly counseling statement to let the Soldier know you are tracking substandard behavior. If the Soldier commits the same offense in the future you can formally counsel them on a DA Form 4856 and include a statement such as: on (date of verbal counseling) I verbally counseled you for the same behavior.

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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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The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

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  • Anne


    Can a company commander and 1sg give you a verbal counseling to not consume alcohol if you are over 21… And your unit is not under any restriction?

    • Dwayne


      Yes! Bottom line is that if the Commander says there will be no drinking this weekend then there is no drinking.

      He or she could take even further actions and keep all the Soldiers on post and conduct frequent checks.

    • Eck


      Yes. The commander can give a Soldier an order not to consume alcohol, even if that Soldier is 21 or over. Normally this happens when a Soldier has been involved in an alcohol related incident such as a DUI, domestic violence incident, drunk and disorderly, etc. When the Soldier is counseled, the counseling should identify why the order was given.

      Now, if the Soldier is in TRADOC, that is an entirely different issue and different rules apply. There are more restrictions place on Soldiers in TRADOC that are too many to list. However, as I understand it, and I am trying to get a hard copy of the order issued, MG May, Initial Military Training Center of Excellence changed the policy for all Soldiers in any of the following: Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, One Station Unit Training, Warrant Officer Basic, and the Basic Officer Leadership Course. The changes were no alcohol consumption by any Soldier in training regardless of Phase or Prior Service status; 2100 curfew for all Soldiers in training regardless of Phase or Prior Service status; and no over night pass (weekdays or weedends) allowed regardless of Phase or Prior Service status. (I did hear today that the overnight pass restriction does not apply to weekends in conjunction with federal holidays.)

      Again, this is what I am told from my contacts and through some research. I have not seen the actual order or updated policy. When I do, I will pass it along.

      I hope you found this useful.

      “I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.”

  • DK


    Is there an AR or FM that refrences verbal counseling?

    • Mark Gerecht


      There is no hard reference on verbal counseling.

  • Sgt G


    I am currently attending WLC (PLDC) and I made an inappropriate comment and was verbally counseled but it was not documented. Then I said something else equally stupid a few days later and now they considering me for removal from the course. The rule is 2 negative counselings documented are grounds for removal this is my first actual counseling for it can I be removed on these grounds?

    • Mark Gerecht


      SGT G,
      Yep, it’s legal and in my humble opinion fair. The Army is in the process of drawing down personnel strength and they are trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. In your description of events the verbal counseling and the formal counseling would equal two events. If the counselor referred to your verbal counseling session in his formal counseling he met the bar by documenting 2 events. It also appears the leader was doing his best to get your attention at the lowest possible level of correction by providing a verbal counseling. If the leaders of WLC are serious they can remove you from the course. The second possibility is they may just be trying to get your attention. I would encourage you to accept responsibility for your actions and in a very humble and professional manner approach the leadership of WLC and ask for another chance and assure them that you have learned your lesson and they will never hear your name in a negative manner in the future.

      You may also find the fol­low­ing post of inter­est:

      I hope you have found this infor­ma­tion use­ful. Please keep me posted


  • SPC Gove


    Question: Can an NCO give you corrective training without a DA 4856 and have the corrective training stated? If yes/no what AR covers this.

    Also, can an NCO recommend UCMJ and tag corrective training in the counseling as well? Is this not a form od double jeapordy.

    SPC Gove

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