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Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)

From: Concurrent Substance Use and Mental Health Problems in Youth: Screening for Concurrent Substance Use and Mental Health Problems in Youth (© 2009, CAM


Download and read the PDF.

The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is a checklist parents complete to detect emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. This factsheet describes the assessment and how to order this tool.

The CBCL is part of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA). There are two other components of the ASEBA - the Teacher's Report Form (TRF) is to be completed by teachers and the Youth Self-Report (YSR) by the child or adolescent.

How it works

The CBCL/6-18 is to be used with children aged 6 to 18. It consists of 113 questions, scored on a three-point Likert scale (0=absent, 1= occurs sometimes, 2=occurs often). The time frame for item responses is the past six months.

The 2001 revision of the CBCL/6-18, is made up of eight syndrome scales:

  • anxious/depressed
  • depressed
  • somatic complaints
  • social problems
  • thought problems
  • attention problems
  • rule-breaking behaviour
  • aggressive behaviour.

These group into two higher order factors–internalizing and externalizing.

The 2001 revision also added six DSM-oriented scales consistent with DSM diagnostic categories:

  • affective problems
  • anxiety problems
  • somatic problems
  • ADHD
  • oppositional defiant problems
  • conduct problems.

The CBCL (and the YSR) are also scored on (optional) competence scales for activities, social relations, school and total competence. In 2001, options for multicultural norms were added allowing scale scores to be displayed in relation to different sets of cultural/societal norms. Scales were also added for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Administering the CBCL

Appropriate target populations

Youth 6 to 18 years of age.

Formats available

_X_ self-administered (paper-and-pencil)

_X_ self-administered (computer)

___ clinician-administered

Items are self-administered, or given verbally if literacy is too low.

Time required

The problem items can be completed by most parents in about 10 minutes and the optional competence items in another 5 to 10 minutes.

Languages available

_X_ English

___ French

_X_ Other (Translations are available in almost 60 languages.)

Accessibility and cost

___ no charge for use

___ use requires permission of test developer

___ use requires special training and/or professional or academic credentials

_X_ fee for use (Contact ASEBA for pricing; currently $295 for single user license.)

Where to access

ASEBA / Research Center for Children, Youth and Families
1 South Prospect Street
St. Joseph's Wing (3rd Floor, Room 3207)
Burlington, VT 05401
Telephone Number: 802-656-5130
E-mail (for orders and inquiries):

Eligibility to purchase ASEBA materials is determined on the basis of professional degree, licensing, relevant experience and acceptance of the conditions listed on the website (please see for more information). The training required may differ according to the ways in which the data are to be used. Graduate training of at least the Master's degree level would ordinarily be expected.

Summary of test development data

Quality of reporting

High, based on STARD rating (see Appendix, p .76).

Summary of validity and reliability data

High, based largely on the variety and strength of the reliability and validity data across so many languages and cultural contexts.