Using the Child Behavior Checklist

Many schools, counselors and other professionals use the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach) as a quick method for gathering information about a child’s or teen’s observable behaviors.  This 113 item checklist is completed by the care provider or teacher using a rating scale (never, frequently or always) for behaviors.  When these ratings are “scored” a very helpful profile is discovered.  This profile indicates whether the child’s observed behaviors fall within the “normal” range for categories such as anxious/depressed, somatic, thought problems, social problems, aggressive behavior and other categories.  These can be very helpful.

Our observations over the past 15 years of research indicate that children with prenatal exposure to alcohol have CBCL results that are indicative of problems.  Many times these results are misinterpreted and misdiagnoses are given.  Common misdiagnoses include oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. We have been evaluating the results of children with PEA on the CBCL for the past two years.  We are finding interesting results for 1 1/2 to 5 year olds and forf 6-18 year olds.  Some of the items on the CBCL rarely occur with children and teens in our sample (hold a grudge) whereas other behavior occur frequently (impulsive).

We are hoping to be able to refine our ability to interpret the results of the CBCL in ways that are helpful in developing treatment plans.  We will keep you updated.