General Information

Trauma-Informed Screening & Assessment

These Screening and Assessment webpages provide an overview of the trauma-informed screening and assessment practices that ensure that clinicians identify and address critical needs early in the process. Please use the following definitions:

  • 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.
  • A 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(s). Clinicians use this 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 following sections contain more information about screening and assessment:

For more information on trauma-informed screening and assessment tools and practices in various populations of children and adolescents across child serving systems, readers are encouraged to view the following resources:


Readers may use the following articles as resources on this topic:
Briere, J., & Spinazzola, J. (2009). Assessment of the sequelae of complex trauma. In C. Courtois, & J. Ford (Eds.), Treating complex traumatic stress disorders (pp. 104-123). New York: Guilford Press.

Kisiel, C., Conradi, L., Fehrenbach, T., Torgerson, E., & Briggs, E. C. (2014). Assessing the effects of trauma in children and adolescents in practice settings. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 23, 223–242.

Nader K. (2007). Culture and the assessment of trauma in youths. In J. P. Wilson, & C. Tang (Eds.), Cross-cultural assessment of psychological trauma and PTSD (pp. 169-196). New York: Springer Science Business Media.

Strand V., Sarmiento, T., & Pasquale, L. (2005). Assessment and screening tools for trauma in children and adolescents: A review. Trauma Violence and Abuse, 6(1), 55–78.

Vincent, G. M. (2011). Screening and assessment in juvenile justice systems: Identifying mental health needs and risk of reoffending. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health. Retrieved from