Standards for Military Family Readiness programs

2020 Edition

Non-Medical Individual and Family Counseling (MIL-NMC) 5: Counseling

Counseling is appropriate to the request or need for service and:

  1. is short-term and solution focused;
  2. recognizes the customer's values, goals, and right to self-determination;
  3. accommodates variations in life style; and
  4. emphasizes personal growth, development, and positive functioning.
2020 Edition




Customers who participate in non-medical counseling identify and build on strengths, develop skills to manage situational change, and improve functioning in daily activities at home, at work, and in their community.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the programs’ practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality and/or overall performance.
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance 
A rating of (2) indicates that a programs’ infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. The majority of the standard's requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  Minor inconsistencies and practices that are not fully developed are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality and/or overall performance.
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that significant aspects of the programs’ observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement. The program has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework. Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised. Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation and Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all. Observed infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.

Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for evaluating level and intensity of care (MIL-NMC 5.03)
  • Procedures for making referrals and following up as needed (MIL-NMC 5.03)
  • Description of how the MFR program promotes the physical, psychological, and emotional health and safety of customers (MIL-NMC 5.04)

MIL-NMC 5.01

Interventions, including individual, family, or group counseling, are tailored to the unique needs of the customer and assist them to:
  1. explore and clarify the reason for accessing services;
  2. identify successful coping or problem solving strategies based on identified strengths and protective factors, and formal and informal supports; and
  3. realize ways of maintaining and generalizing gains.

Literature suggests that the most successful interventions are those that are driven by the goals of the customer and utilize strengths, coping mechanisms, and support networks to solve an identified problem. Assisting customers in identifying the concern that motivated them to seek out services, their service goals, and the tools they have to successfully accomplish their goals leads to greater self-sufficiency and fewer service needs in the future.

MIL-NMC 5.02

Counseling staff engage and motivate customers by demonstrating:

  1. sensitivity to their needs and personal goals;
  2. a receptive, non-threatening manner;
  3. recognition and respect for their autonomy, confidentiality, socio-cultural values, personal goals, life style choices, and complex family interactions;
  4. flexibility; and
  5. ethical boundaries.

MIL-NMC 5.03

Counseling staff:

  1. determine the need for a different level or intensity of care;
  2. use written criteria for determining when the involvement of a specialist is indicated;
  3. follow up when a referral is made; and
  4. coordinate with other service providers when it’s in the best interest of the customer and with his or her consent.
Related Standards:

Fundamental Practice

MIL-NMC 5.04

The MFR program promotes the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of customers by:
  1. screening customers for histories involving violence or other trauma;
  2. monitoring the service population for emerging physical, psychological, and emotional safety needs; and
  3. making changes to the service environment or procedures as necessary to respond to the safety needs of customers.


Regarding element (c), examples of mechanisms that can be used to respond to the safety needs of customers include using staggered scheduling and separate entrances to ensure safety and anonymity; monitoring interactions among customers and staff to ensure they remain respectful, calming, and empowering; establishing and enforcing rules for the service environment; and soliciting and responding to feedback from customers regarding their perceived safety in the service environment.

Fundamental Practice

MIL-NMC 5.05

When a customer is known to be a trauma survivor or a survivor of violence, abuse, or neglect, the MFR program provides, or makes arrangements for:
  1. a protection plan, as needed; and
  2. trauma-informed treatment.
Trauma-informed treatment incorporates what is known about trauma and trauma survivors to minimize the risk of re-victimization, address the effects of trauma on the individual, and facilitate healing. Core principles of trauma-informed treatment include safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment.

The National Council for Behavioral Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identify a physical environment that promotes a sense of safety and collaboration as one of the key domains for implementing a trauma-informed approach to care, and a fundamental component of service accessibility for customers who have experienced trauma.