Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)

Issue the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) to your clients to see the level of their psychological distress so you can determine the best course of action to help them!

Bernard Ramirez
Bernard Ramirez
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What is the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)?

is a valuable tool developed by Ron Kessler and Dan Mroczek in 1992. It comes in the form of a questionnaire that asks those engaging with the scale questions about certain aspects of their psychological state in the past four weeks. These aspects include psychological fatigue, agitation, nervousness, and the severity of their depression (if they are depressed).

The questions come with a rating scale (1 to 5), with one signifying “none of the time” and five signifying “all of the time.” The points are added to determine the level of psychological distress a person is at, which should help their psychologist determine how to go about treatment.

Printable Kessler Psychological Distress Scale

Download this Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and assess the severity of your client’s distress.

How to use the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)

Using this version of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale is easy – just follow the below steps:

Step 1: Have your client answer the questionnaire.

When you’re at the point in your sessions where you need to get a sense of the level of your client’s psychological distress level, issue the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) to them.

All they need to do is to rate themselves based on each question, from 1 to 5.

Step 2: Add up the scores!

Once your client submits the completed questionnaire, you need to add the scores. The minimum score that a client can get is 10, and the highest is 50. Low scores are good because they mean the client is likely to be well or only experiences mild psychological distress. High scores mean the opposite.

Here’s the scoring guide based on the 2001 Victorian Population Health Survey:

  • 10-19: Your client is likely to be psychologically well and sound
  • 20-24: Your client is likely to have a mild mental disorder
  • 25-29: Your client is likely to have a moderate mental disorder
  • 30-50: Your client is likely to have a severe mental disorder

Step 3: Come up with a treatment plan!

Once you’ve added up the client’s scores, you should be able to determine the next steps for your sessions, depending on their level of psychological distress.

Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) Example

Here’s an example of a filled-out Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), to consolidate your understanding of what this resource will look like when it has been completed.

Download this Kessler Psychological Distress Scale Example (Sample) here:

Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) Example (Sample)

When would you typically use a Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)?

You can issue your client the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) when you’re at the stage in your sessions where you need to understand their psychological distress level.

This doesn’t mean it’s a one-off thing, though! Suppose your client scores high, meaning they are likely to have moderate/severe psychological distress and mental disorder. In that case, it’s best to keep issuing them the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale every four weeks to properly monitor their psychological distress.

As they go about their treatment plan, reissuing the scale is an excellent way to track their psychological state properly.

Who can use this printable Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)?

The following healthcare practitioners can use the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) for their respective practices:

Their clients will engage with the scale the most since they will rate themselves based on the questions.

What are the benefits of using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)?

Aside from being helpful to counselors, therapists, and psychologists, the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), clients may find the scale to be beneficial.

The scoring system gives them a semblance of objectivity and can help frame where they are at, mentally. In the event that:

  • The client scored high initially
  • They are currently undergoing a treatment plan with you
  • And the treatment plan is working

They can see how far they’ve come, and if the treatment plan comes with them having to do something on their part, they might feel more motivated and inspired to become better.

Why use Carepatron for psychotherapy and counseling software?

Here at Carepatron, we care about helping healthcare practitioners improve productivity and efficiency, especially when it comes to streamlining their clinical documentation. By taking advantage of our easy-to-navigate EHR system, you’ll gain access to a wide variety of psychotherapy and counseling assessments such as the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale!

Using our assessments will help you with your counseling and make it easier for you and your clients to examine and understand their problems better. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale is there to designate a client’s psychological distress level and to see if they’re getting better over time.

You can even store these assessments in a HIPAA-compliant manner and secure them by setting up who can access these documents besides you.

Not only are our psychotherapy software and worksheets intuitive, but they’re also easily accessible! Whether you’re using an office desktop, a laptop, or even just your phone, you can access your psychotherapy assessments anytime, anywhere!

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Is the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) objective?
Is the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) objective?

Commonly asked questions

Is the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) objective?

The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) creates a semblance of objectivity through the scoring ranges and their respective designations. This is to help frame things for both the therapist and their client to help determine what they can include in the treatment plan.

When should the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) be issued by the therapist?

The best time to issue this to your client is when you need to gauge their mental state and the current level of their psychological distress.

In the event that your treatment plan spans a long time, it’s good to issue this every four weeks to see if there are any improvements in their distress levels. It’s also a good way to see if your treatment plan is working.

Can the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) be used by children?

Yes. Practitioners can issue this to adults and children. It’s also easy to use since all the client has to do is rate themselves based on the guide questions.

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