Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ)

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ)

Childhood trauma can have a profound and lasting impact on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. To better understand the effects of childhood trauma, psychologists and researchers have developed various questionnaires and assessment tools. One such tool is the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, which measures different types of trauma experienced during childhood. This questionnaire has become an important tool for researchers, clinicians, and mental health professionals in assessing trauma-related symptoms in individuals. For more information on CTQ and other psychological measurement tools, visit the Psychological Measurement Database.

The term “childhood trauma” refers to any adverse event that has a major negative impact on a child’s physical, emotional, or mental health. Anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are just a few of the mental health issues that might have their roots in traumatic events endured as a child and manifest themselves later in life (PTSD). The first step in delivering therapies to reduce the detrimental impacts of childhood trauma is identifying persons who have suffered trauma. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire is one instrument that has been used for this purpose.

Background History

The CTQ was initially developed in 1994 by Bernstein et al. as a self-reported questionnaire that measures different aspects of childhood trauma across five subscales: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and physical neglect. The Scale consists of 28 items, and each item is rated on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (“never true”) to 5 (“very often true”). This tool has been translated into multiple languages and has been used in both clinical and research settings.

Psychometric Properties

The term “reliability” refers to the degree to which the answers remain consistent and stable across time and among a variety of distinct groups of individuals. If a test is trustworthy, it should return the same findings no matter how many times it’s given or how many various kinds of samples it uses. If a measure has a high degree of dependability, it indicates that it is accurately assessing the same construct on several occasions. Individuals tend to report comparable results while completing the questionnaire at various times in time, which indicates that the scale has good test-retest reliability and high internal consistency.

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The degree to which the CTQ measures what it is designed to measure in an accurate manner is referred to as its validity. Examining the degree to which the scores on the CTQ correlate with those of other measures of childhood trauma, also known as convergent validity, and the degree to which it accurately predicts outcomes related to childhood trauma, also known as criterion-related validity, are two ways in which validity can be established. It has been shown that the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire has strong convergent validity with other measures of childhood trauma, as well as good criterion-related validity in predicting outcomes connected to childhood trauma.

Individuals are prompted to fill out the CTQ on their own as part of the administration process, which may take place using either a paper-based or computer-based format for the questionnaire. The directions for completing the tool are easy to understand, and the test itself usually takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to do. When giving the questionnaire to people, it is essential to make certain that they are at ease and that they understand what is being asked of them.

Administration, Scoring and Interpretation


The scale can be administered via paper or computer-based formats, and individuals are asked to complete the questionnaire themselves. The instructions for completing the CTQ are clear, and it typically takes between 10-20 minutes to complete. It is important to ensure that individuals feel comfortable and understand the questions before administering the questionnaire.

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Each item on the questionnaire is rated on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (“never true”) to 5 (“very often true”). The scores for each item are added together to create subscale scores, and then the subscale scores are added together to create a total score. The scoring key provides guidance on how to calculate the subscale and total scores. Higher scores indicate a greater level of childhood trauma.


The CTQ can be used to identify individuals who have experienced childhood trauma and to assess the severity of their experiences. A higher score on any of the subscales or total score indicates a greater likelihood of experiencing that type of childhood trauma. Interpretation of the questionnaire results should be done with caution as there may be cultural differences in how individuals report their experiences.

It is essential to maintain confidentiality and sensitivity when interpreting the CTQ results. Clinicians and researchers should provide appropriate support and resources to individuals who have reported experiencing childhood trauma. The CTQ can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the negative effects of childhood trauma.


Bernstein, D. P., Fink, L., Handelsman, L., Foote, J., Lovejoy, M., Wenzel, K., … & Ruggiero, J. (1994). Initial reliability and validity of a new retrospective measure of child abuse and neglect. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151(8), 1132-1136.

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