Childhood Trauma Questionnaire

Before you can help your patient work through their trauma, you need to understand them first. Issue this Childhood Trauma Questionnaire to your patient to get a bit of their background, then work on getting to know them from there during subsequent sessions!

By Matt Olivares on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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What is the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire?

The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire is a nifty tool that allows mental healthcare professionals and trauma experts to get to know their patients better to help structure their discussions with them as they progress through their treatment program.

This questionnaire is the revised version of what David P. Bernstein and his group created before. It used to be a seventy-item questionnaire, but this one is the twenty-eight-item version.

The questions revolve around five different types of childhood trauma, which are: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Here are some of the items that need to be answered by the patient:

  • I did not have enough to eat when
  • I was hit so hard that I had to see a doctor
  • My parents were too drunk/too high to take care of me
  • I was punished with a belt, board, cord, or another hard object
  • My family said hurtful or insulting things to me
  • Someone molested me
  • Someone tried to make me do sexual things or watch sexual things
  • Someone in my family hated me

Most of these items are emotionally challenging, so do not be surprised if your patient has a hard time answering this questionnaire.

Printable Childhood Trauma Questionnaire

Download this Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and develop a better understanding of your client’s childhood experiences.

How to use the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire

Administer this questionnaire to your patient.

There are two ways to go about administering this questionnaire to your patient:

  1. You can conduct this like an interview during your first appointment with them. If you opt for this, do not expect them to answer. Given that childhood trauma is a difficult subject to talk about, even among close family/friends, it’s even more complicated when talking about it to professionals and strangers. Before anything, you have to make them feel they can trust you and that your clinical space is safe for them.
  1. The second choice is to hand them a copy of the questionnaire and have them answer it on time. This gives them the distance, space, and time to think about their childhood traumas and answer accordingly. Just make sure to agree as to when you should receive a fully-accomplished questionnaire.

Now, how do they answer the items? It’s simple. They just have to select any one of the following per item:

  • Never true = 1
  • Rarely true = 2
  • Sometimes true = 3
  • Often true = 4
  • Very often true = 5

Some items have the inverse, though. These specific items are Items 2, 5, 7, 13, 19, 26, and 28. So, “Never true” is equal to 5, and “Very often true” is equal to 1.

Calculate the scores.

Once you receive a fully-accomplished questionnaire, it’s time for you to calculate the scores. You will be tallying the scores per childhood trauma type, and they are arranged as such:

  • Physical Abuse: Items 9, 11, 12, 15, and 17
  • Emotional Abuse: Items 3, 8, 14, 18, and 25
  • Sexual Abuse: Items 20, 21, 23, 24, and 27
  • Physical Neglect: Items 1, 2, 4, 6, and 26
  • Emotional Neglect: Items 5, 7, 13, 19, and 28

Don’t forget the Items with the inverse scoring!

Besides those five categories, there is another one called “Minimization/Denial,” which tries to measure if the patient is still positing that their family is great despite having answered items related to family that would say otherwise.

For that section, you only need to look at Items 10, 16, and 22. For each of these, if the patient answers “Very often true,” it’s equivalent to 1 point. If they picked other answers, then it’s equivalent to 0. The maximum score that they can get for Minimization/Denial is 3.

As for interpreting the scores, here are the cut-off scores and designations per type:

Score Designations

Just so you know, if the level of abuse is “None” for the particular childhood trauma type, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have trauma. Always refer to their answers. There might be something there beyond what the number tries to say.

Determine the next steps based on the scores.

Once you have calculated the scores, the next thing is to determine what you can do for your patient to help them work through their childhood traumas. For example, suppose they scored high regarding emotional abuse and neglect. In that case, you might want to create a plan where you provide the necessary worksheets and discussions needed to help them develop skills related to regulating their emotions. Maybe you would like to give them self-esteem exercises. Again, what you will do will be based on their scores. Tailor-fit your care plan to your patient.

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Example

Now that you know all there is to know about the questionnaire, it’s best that you see what it generally looks like, so here is an example of a filled-out Childhood Trauma Questionnaire sample. Do note that the answers that you see in this example are based on a fictional patient. This is merely for educational and demonstrative purposes. If you like what you see here and would like to add the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire to your roster of assessments, then we recommend that you visit the Pearson official website to purchase an official Childhood Trauma Questionnaire kit.

Download this Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Example (Sample) here:

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Example

When does one typically issue the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire?

The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire is normally used during a patient’s initial assessment. This is when the healthcare professional doesn’t know anything about the patient, so to find ways to help them work through their trauma, professionals tend to issue assessments for them to answer to get to know the patient and have them open up.

The questionnaire is not just used to get the patient to open up during discussions. This questionnaire is also used when healthcare professionals are at the point where they are supposed to develop a care plan for their patients. This is one of the best times to issue this questionnaire to their patients because the scores they will get will help shape what goes into their respective care plans.

Who can use the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire?

The following healthcare professionals can use the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire for their work:

  • (Clinical) Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Counselors
  • (Mental Health) Therapists

So long as the healthcare professional is highly trained in dealing with and caring for patients who have had childhood traumas as well as those with PTSD, they are more than welcome to use this questionnaire.

Psychometricians and researchers can also use fully-accomplished questionnaires to determine the commonalities and outcomes of childhood trauma regarding how people think, act, and what they feel like years after going through traumatic experiences. This can also be used by them to evaluate the efficacy of care plans implemented by professionals.

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Why use Carepatron for trauma-related software?

If you work in psychology and mental health, especially if you specialize in caring for patients who are trying to work through their trauma, then you’d be elated to know that Carepatron is a treasure trove of tools that streamline your work.

From guides about assessments (like this one for the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) to actual assessments, from worksheets to general treatment plans, we have a wide variety of instruments and documents that should help you with your work!

Not only that, Carepatron has a highly secure storage system that you can take advantage of! The storage system allows you to store your files in a HIPAA-compliant manner and you can nominate the people who can access them besides you!

If you have purchased the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire from Pearson, you may store fully-accomplished questionnaires through us! You can even store blank questionnaires that you can whip out anytime, anywhere, on any capable device you might have, so long as you have internet access. This is especially great if you are conducting appointments outside your hospital or clinic!

Convenience. Accessibility. Security. You get all three with Carepatron.

Therapy Software
I plan on using this for my practice. May I know how old the patient must be for me to use this?
I plan on using this for my practice. May I know how old the patient must be for me to use this?

Commonly asked questions

I plan on using this for my practice. May I know how old the patient must be for me to use this?

The patient must be aged 12+. Younger patients might not have processed what they have been through, so other assessments might be better for younger patients.

May I use this questionnaire to diagnose my patients with trauma-related disorders?

No. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire is a screening tool that asks about the patient’s history. If you need to diagnose your patient, please refer them to an expert who specializes in diagnosing people with trauma-related disorders. If you are that expert, please conduct comprehensive examinations first and use actual diagnostic tools.

I’m sure that this tool is reliable, but reliable tools come with their limitations. What are the limitations of this tool?

The limitation of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire is that it may not cover the full extent of a patient’s trauma, nor all trauma types. This is why it was mentioned earlier that just because the patient got a score that falls under the None severity level, that doesn’t mean they actually don’t have trauma. They might, so it’s best to conduct further assessments and get them to talk during your appointments. Their self-ratings may not even be enough, so make sure to have them elaborate as best as they can when conversing with them.

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