Young Child PTSD Screen


Author of Tool: 

Michael Scheeringa, MD, MPH

Key references: 

Scheeringa MS (2009). Posttraumatic stress disorder. In CH Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of Infant Mental Health, third edition (pp. 345-361). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Cohen JA, Deblinger E, Mannarino AP, Steer RA (2004). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 43(4), 393-402.

Cohen JA, Scheeringa MS (2009). Post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in children: Challenges and promises. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 11(1), 91-99.

Scheeringa MS (in press). PTSD in Children Younger Than Age of 13: Towards a Developmentally Sensitive Diagnosis. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma.

Scheeringa MS, Weems CF, Cohen JA, Amaya-Jackson L, Guthrie D (2010). Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in three through six year-old children: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Article first published online 14 Dec. 2010. doi: 10.1111/j.1469- 7610.2010.02354.x

Primary use / Purpose: 

This is a developmentally-sensitive checklist for young children that is filled out by caregivers. It is a 6-item screen to quickly determine whether children need to be referred for clinical treatment for PTSD. The YCPS is intended to quickly screen for PTSD in the acute aftermath of traumatic events (2-4 weeks after an event) and/or in settings where there would not be time for longer assessments or more in-depth mental health assessment is not available. The screen is not intended for a general assessment of PTSD or to make a diagnosis.


The structure of six items was based upon the desire to identify youth who have at least five PTSD symptoms. When young children are diagnosed with a developmentally sensitive algorithm (Scheeringa et al., 2003; Scheeringa, Zeanah, and Cohen, 2010), the average number of symptoms ranges from seven to 10, and clinical intervention trials typically require at least five symptoms for inclusion (Cohen et al., 2004; Scheeringa et al., in press).

The YCPS has not been used in a study yet. These wordings are derived from years of experience of conducting interviews and designing diagnostic interviews for PTSD with caregivers of young children in multiple research studies.




Digital Object Identifier (DOI):


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