Child PTSD Symptom Scale

Evaluate the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder using the Child PTSD Symptom Scale based on DSM-5 diagnostic criteria of PTSD.

By Patricia Buenaventura on Feb 29, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder, or , is a mental health problem that both adults and children can have after a traumatic event. In children, PTSD is triggered whenever the child witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. These events include physical/sexual/emotional abuse, violent attacks, natural disasters, man-made tragedies, invasive medical procedures, or neglect.

Symptoms of a child with PTSD are trouble sleeping, feeling depressed/grouchy, having flashbacks of the event, avoiding places/situations related to the traumatic event, having scary thoughts of the event, having problems with focusing, acting younger than age, and exhibiting physical or emotional symptoms.

The severity and frequency of symptoms will vary based on the duration and frequency of the traumatic event, how well the child copes, and their environment. Additionally, if children witness the event or have a close relationship with those involved, it can further impact their experience. Diagnosing PTSD in children typically involves tests such as the Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS). While PTSD cannot be cured, there are treatments available to help manage its symptoms.

Printable Child PTSD Symptom Scale

Download this Child PTSD Symptom Scale to properly assess clients.

How to use the Child PTSD Symptom Scale:

Access and Download the Template

To access and download the template, you can do either of the following:

  • Click the “Use Template” or “Download Template” button
  • Search for “Child PTSD Symptom Scale” in Carepatron’s template library on the website or app

Explain the Template

Since the scale was designed to be answered by the client, it’s best if you explain to the client how to answer the questions and instruct them on how to complete the questionnaire. Furthermore, it’s recommended that you stay close by to answer any additional questions or clarify any part of the template if needed. 

Answer the Template

Once you explained how to complete the template, provide them with a copy. Don’t forget to remind them that they may ask to clarify any section of the questionnaire and to assure them that they can take as much time as they need. 

Compute the Score and Interpret

After they’ve completed the template, it’s time to compute the score and interpret it. If the client scores 30 or higher in the first part, they probably have PTSD. Meanwhile, in the second part, the higher the score, the more the symptoms impair how they function. 

Proceed with Next Steps

After interpreting, you may proceed to the next steps, whether that be further testing to cement the PTSD diagnosis or treatment formulation. 

Child PTSD Symptom Scale Example

Here’s a Child PTSD Symptom Scale sample completed by a fictional client with probable PTSD. You can use this example by showing it to your clients so they can complete the template. Aside from that, you can use this example for insight into computing and interpreting the results. 

Grab a copy of our Child PTSD Symptom Scale example in PDF format for offline reference or educational purposes by viewing our example below or clicking the “Download Example PDF” button above. 

Download this Child PTSD Symptom Scale Example:

Child PTSD Symptom Scale Example

When would you use this Child PTSD Symptom Scale?

Practitioners such as therapists, psychologists, and clinicians can use the Child PTSD Symptoms Scale when:

  • They need to measure the severity of PTSD symptoms in a child client has experienced in the past month
  • Identify if the young client has PTSD and should be diagnosed accordingly
  • Those who need to diagnose PTSD or check for PTSD symptoms immediately in larger groups wherein interviews may not be possible 

What are the benefits of using this Child PTSD Symptom Scale?

Quick Screening Tool

Since the free Child PTSD Symptom scale doesn’t require interviews or written answers, practitioners can use it as a quick screening tool for PTSD in children, especially in large groups. Plus, the client will only take a few minutes to complete the form. 

Monitor Severity of Symptoms

The Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS) is primarily designed to assess symptom severity. By having a copy of the template, the referring physician can monitor the severity of symptoms monthly. This is especially helpful if the practitioner needs to check the effectiveness of a treatment approach. 

Gain Insight on the Client

Practitioners can also use this template to gain insight into the client and identify which symptoms have bothered them for the past month. Similarly to the one above, this type of insight helps with treatment approach formulation. 

Valid and Reliable

According to multiple research, the CPSS-5 self-report version has good internal consistency and test-retest reliability, sound psychometric properties supporting its reliability and validity claim, has strong concurrent, discriminant, and high reliability. 

References

Foa, E. B., Asnaani, A., Zang, Y., Capaldi, S., & Yeh, R. (2018). Psychometrics of the Child PTSD Symptom Scale for DSM-5 for Trauma-Exposed Children and Adolescents. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology : the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 47(1), 38–46. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2017.1350962

Serrano-Ibáñez, E. R., Ruiz-Párraga, G. T., Esteve, R., Ramírez-Maestre, C., & López-Martínez, A. E. (2018). Validation of the Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS) in Spanish adolescents. Psicothema, 30(1), 130–135. https://doi.org/10.7334/psicothema2017.144

Stewart, R. W., Ebesutani, C., Drescher, C. F., & Young, J. (2017). The Child PTSD Symptom Scale: An Investigation of Its Psychometric Properties. Journal of interpersonal violence, 32(15), 2237–2256. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515596536

How long does it normally take to accomplish the Child PTSD Symptom Scale?
How long does it normally take to accomplish the Child PTSD Symptom Scale?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it normally take to accomplish the Child PTSD Symptom Scale?

It can take from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the child’s comprehension abilities.

How do you interpret the findings of the Child PTSD Symptom Scale?

You can interpret the findings using the severity range guide provided in the first section of this guide.

Who can use the Child PTSD Symptom Scale?

Licensed specialists such as psychologists, clinicians, psychiatrists, and therapists can use and benefit from the Child PTSD Symptom Scale.

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