Home > Clinical Resources > Trauma Assessment > Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents

Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents

The CAPS-CA is a 33-item clinician-administered PTSD interview for youths aged eight to 18 years. It is a modified version of the adult CAPS.

Items were modified to make them age-appropriate and picture response options were added. Practice questions help familiarize children with the assessment. The Life Events Checklist is used to identify traumatic events.

CAPS-CA is a structured interview providing a categorical diagnosis, as well as a measure of the severity of PTSD symptoms as defined by DSM-IV. It can be administered by any trained person and takes 30-60 minutes.

Available Only to ISTSS Members

This resource should be used in an ethical and responsible manner and should be used only for the purpose(s) for which it has demonstrable validity. Please observe copyright where indicated and reference it appropriately.

CAPS-CA Interview Schedule

Author/Publisher Details   

National Center for PTSD, Boston, USA


Nader et al., 1996


Like the CAPS, the CAPS-CA measures the frequency and intensity of symptoms associated with the 17 DSM-IV PTSD symptoms, as well as the impact of those symptoms on such aspects of functioning as overall distress, coping skills, and impairment. In addition to current and lifetime diagnoses, items assess overall severity, validity of ratings, associated symptoms, and coping strategies.

It takes 30-60 minutes to administer, (depending on the level of psychopathology) and slightly less to score. Training is required to administer this test, although all the necessary information for self-learning is available for free, using the adult manual.

Although ideal for research settings, it can be a little cumbersome for use in routine clinical practice especially for those less experienced with the interview.


Items are scored on 5-point frequency (e.g., from 0 = "None of the Time" to 4 = "Most of the Time") and 5 point intensity rating scales (e.g., from 0 = "Not a Problem" to 4 = "A Big Problem, I Have to Stop What I Am Doing") for the past month.

It is recommended that the "1, 2" rule be used to determine a diagnosis; that is, a frequency score of 1 and an intensity score of 2 is required for a particular symptom to meet criterion (based on adult data, Weathers et al., 1999). The diagnosis is then made according to the DSM-IV algorithm (i.e., 1 "B" Criteria, 3 "C" Criteria, and 2 "D" Criteria, along with A, E, and F). A severity score for each symptom is calculated by summing the frequency and intensity scores, which can then be summed for all 17 symptom questions and/or for the three symptom clusters.


The CAPS-CA was based on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale developed for use with adults. The CAPS has strong psychometric properties.


Nader, K., Kriegler, J.A., Blake, D.D., Pynoos, R.S., Newman, E., & Weather, F.W. (1996). Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, Child and Adolescent Version. White River Junction, VT: National Center for PTSD

Additional Reviews

Ohan, J. L., Myers, K., Collett, B. R. (2002). Ten-year review of rating scales. IV: scales assessing trauma and its effects. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 41: 1401-22

Nader, K. O. (2004). Assessing traumatic experiences in children and adolescents: Self-reports of DSM PTSD Criteria B-D symptoms. In J. Wilson & T. Keane (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD, 2nd ed. (pp. 513-537). New York: Guilford Press

Further Information    

Training for administering the CAPS is available through the instruction manual, and also on a downloadable CD-ROM, although since the download is large and time consuming it is also available for purchase. Learn more.

Manual Available Only to ISTSS Members   

A comprehensive administration manual is available for the Adult version of CAPS. The child adolescent version does not have a separate manual freely available. Users should make use of the standard CAPS manual.

CAPS Manual