Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Norman Cobb


Young children experience a variety of traumatic experiences ranging from divorce and witnessing family violence, to living with parents who have addictive behaviors, to experiencing severe illness and injury, to experiencing population wide traumas, to experiencing physical or sexual abuse or other forms of child maltreatment. Young children between the ages of 3 and 7 are in the preoperational stage of cognitive development and consequently process these experiences in a different manner than adults. As a result, assessment measures need to take this cognitive processing into account and look at the children's views of their experiences. Psychosocial development is equally important in the development of assessment instruments, since children in this age group are within Erikson's stages of initiative versus guilt and industry versus inferiority, so they are beginning to develop their own opinions and representations of the world. Assessment instruments also need to communicate with children on their own level, which at this age, is through play. The current study developed an assessment instrument of trauma symptoms in young children based on a combination of the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), recommendations for alternative diagnostic criteria for PTSD in preschool children, and theoretical literature related to complex trauma and developmental trauma disorder in young children. The Trauma Assessment for Young Children was tested in a control sample of children from an area Head Start Center and a designated trauma sample from children's advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters. The purpose of the study was to validate the Trauma Assessment for Young Children. The Trauma Assessment for Young Children had good test-retest reliability. The measure was found to have moderate internal consistency on both the child-report and caregiver-report versions, with higher levels in the caregiver report,. The Trauma Assessment for Young Children had good convergent validity with the PTSD subscales (intrusiveness, avoidance, arousal, and total PTSD) with the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children for the total sample and with all susbscales except arousal for the designated trauma group. It demonstrated good discriminant validity with the externalizing (aggressive, attention, and total externalizing) subscales of the Child Behavior Checklist) for the designated trauma group, and for the control group and total sample on attention. Finally, the Trauma Assessment for Young Children demonstrated known groups validity on the caregiver-report version of the measure, indicating that it has the ability to differentiate between the designated trauma group and the control group. These results are promising for the future utility of the measure with children who have experienced a trauma; however, the sample size was small; therefore, implications for future research are discussed, as well as, implications for social work policy and practice.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons