Experiences in Close Relationships Scale - Revised (ECR-R)

Use the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale to gauge how a patient feels about emotionally intimate relationships.

By Matt Olivares on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

Use Template

What is the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R)?

The revised version of the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R) is a useful assessment tool that was developed by Kelly Brennan, Catherine Clark, and Phillip Shaver. This scale aims to provide a measurement of two maladaptive attachment characteristics that adults may carry over from childhood to adulthood: avoidance and anxiety.

When we speak of avoidance in this context, it is the fear of being intimate with another person, whether emotionally or romantically. Those who are avoidant tend to reject becoming dependent on another person, and they also avoid self-disclosing to other people.

As for anxiety, what it means in the context of this assessment is that the individual fears certain things in whatever emotional or romantic relationship they have. They become anxious whenever a person, especially a partner, is unavailable or unresponsive. They also need to feel assurance and approval from the other person. Depending on how severe their anxiety is, they might seek assurance and approval excessively. They also tend to be afraid of being rejected or abandoned.

The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale will measure these maladaptive attachment characteristics by focusing on how they view close relationships with people, whether they are romantically involved with them or not.

If you're looking for other useful resources, feel free to watch this video:

Printable Experiences in Close Relationships Scale

Download this Experiences in Close Relationships Scale to assess clients.

How to use the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R)

The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R) is an easy-to-use scale. It can be administered in two ways:

  1. You can simply hand it to your patient and have them answer the scale independently.
  2. Or, you can conduct it like an interview. If you opt for this method of administering it, explain what the scale is for and tell them to answer by providing a number rating based on how much they resonate or agree with each item. This method will make accomplishing this scale take longer, but you will be given the opportunity to have your patient expound on their answers.

Either way, your patient will answer thirty-six items. Here are examples of statements that they have to rate:

  • I'm afraid that I will lose my partner's love.
  • I often worry that my partner will not want to stay with me.
  • I often worry that my partner doesn't really love me.
  • I worry that romantic partners won’t care about me as much as I care about them.
  • I often wish that my partner's feelings for me were as strong as my feelings for him or her.
  • I worry a lot about my relationships.
  • I do not often worry about being abandoned.
  • My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away.
  • I worry that I won't measure up to other people.
  • I prefer not to show a partner how I feel deep down.

They need to rate each item between 1 to 7, with 1 meaning they “strongly disagree” and 7 meaning they “strongly agree.”

Items 1 to 18 are for gauging anxiety, while Items 19 to 36 are for gauging avoidance. For the anxiety items, Items 9 and 11 are reverse-scored. For the avoidance items, Items 20, 22, 26-31, and 33-36 are reverse-scored. For reverse-score items, if they select 1, that means it’s actually a 7, and vice-versa.

After totaling the scores for anxiety and avoidance, compute the average for both.

Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R) Example

Now you know what the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale is, what it aims to assess, what statements have to be answered, and how it’s scored, it’s time to see what it looks like. Our template uses the revised version of the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R), but we added radio buttons for your patients to tick, whether using a pen (if they’re handed a physical copy) or by clicking on the buttons (if they’re using the PDF).

We also added an additional comments box in case they expand on their self-ratings. Their expounded answers might be valuable to you, especially if you’re helping them work through their relationship problems and reconfigure how they think about emotional intimacy.

If you like what you see and believe this will help you gauge your clients better, feel free to download our free Experiences in Close Relationships Scale PDF template!

Download this Experiences in Close Relationships Scale Example:

Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R) Example

When is it best to use the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R)?

If you’re reading this guide, you’re likely a therapist or counselor who focuses on addressing the relationship problems of clients. The best time to use this revised version of the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R) would be in the middle of your therapy or counseling program. You should have already created a space where your patient or client feels safe, a space where they won’t have to fear judgment.

You must have already established a good level of trust and rapport with your patient or client. You want them to share things about themselves, and they will only do so if they trust you. This is a must, especially if they’re seeking your help to address their relationship problems. Relationship problems are highly personal, and most people feel uncomfortable sharing their woes with others.

Once you’ve done all that, you can introduce the ECR-R to them and have them answer it. As for what you’re going to do after, that will depend on the scores. If the scores indicate their avoidance and anxiety are high, then your therapy or counseling program must be geared towards addressing those maladaptive attachment characteristics.

What are the benefits of using the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-R)?

It helps therapists/counselors to get to know how their patients feel about intimacy in relationships.

The great thing about this Experiences in Close Relationships Scale and other similar assessments is that they are able to help professionals get to know their patients/clients better in terms of what these assessments are aiming to gauge. Even if your patient shares their relationship problems with you during your therapy or counseling program, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re giving you the full picture. Some nuances might be left out, many of which your patient might not even be aware of. This scale will help you see if they have avoidance and anxiety issues regarding their relationships.

It can help therapists/counselors determine what they can do for their patients/clients.

The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale doesn’t have any score ranges or designations to keep in mind, but it does calculate the average for anxiety and avoidance. The higher the scores, the more “severe” the anxiety and avoidance of the patient/client. The scores should also help professionals determine what they can do for their patients. They can even keep in mind which items reflect severe avoidance and anxiety in their patient and consider them as key areas of concern that their therapy or counseling program must address.

It can be used to check on patients/clients down the line.

Let’s say you’re a therapist or counselor who formulated a treatment/action plan for your patient. You employed certain therapy techniques to help them reconfigure their thoughts about relationships and emotional intimacy, and they seem to have been able to apply what you’ve taught them so far. You can use this scale again to check if their views have changed. If the scores reflect that they have a “better” look at certain aspects of their relationship with others, then you can safely say that your plan is working. If not, then perhaps giving it more time is best, or you can make tweaks to your plan and see if those tweaks do the trick.

How long does it take to accomplish the ECR-R?
How long does it take to accomplish the ECR-R?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to accomplish the ECR-R?

Assuming the patient/client can answer each one quickly, it can be accomplished within five to ten minutes. If you opt to administer the scale like an interview, it will likely take longer than that.

Is it difficult to answer this scale?

In terms of the instructions, no. Whatever difficulty that will arise will be on the part of the person answering it. They might have to think long and hard about their self-ratings. Some might be reluctant to answer.

What if I’m not a therapist or counselor? Can I use this to assess myself?

Yes, but please don’t diagnose yourself based on the results. If you have relationship problems, you’re aware that it has something to do with your views on intimacy and emotional bonds, and your views have negatively impacted your mental well-being and your relationships with others, we recommend seeing a professional to help you work through these problems and hopefully reconfigure the way you think about intimacy and emotional bonds.

Join 10,000+ teams using Carepatron to be more productive

One app for all your healthcare work