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Screening and Assessment

Trauma-informed screening and assessment practices help providers identify children’s and families’ needs early in the process and to tailor services to meet those needs.

Trauma Screening refers to a tool or process that is a brief, focused inquiry to determine whether an individual has experienced one or more traumatic events, has reactions to such events, has specific mental or behavioral health needs, and/or needs a referral for a comprehensive trauma-informed mental health assessment. Screening is a “wide-net” process.

Trauma-Informed Mental Health Assessment refers to a process that includes a clinical interview, standardized measures, and/or behavioral observations designed to gather an in-depth understanding of the nature, timing, and severity of the traumatic events, the effects of those events, current trauma-related symptoms, and functional impairment. Clinicians use the assessment to understand a child’s trauma history and symptom profile; to determine whether a child is developmentally on target in the social, emotional, and behavioral domains; to inform case conceptualization and drive treatment planning; and to monitor progress over time.

The pages below provide more information about trauma-informed screening and assessment—including the types of tools that are available and strategies for engaging families—as well as considerations for implementation. In addition, the searchable NCTSN Measures Review Database provides easy access to comprehensive clinical and research information on a variety of measures important for the field of child traumatic stress.

Trauma Screening

Trauma screening should measure a wide range of experiences and identify common reactions and symptoms of trauma.

NCTSN Resources

The following resources on Screening and Assessment were developed by the NCTSN.

Measure Reviews

This searchable database contains detailed reviews of measures utilized in the field of child traumatic stress, designed to allow comparison across measures.