Assessment Tool for Anxiety

Written by sara rusk
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Assessment Tool for Anxiety
Psychologists can administer several assessments for anxiety. (cholesteral test supplies image by Pix by Marti from

Several assessment tools related to anxiety are available. While some are self-administered, all assessments must be distributed and scored by a professional. By examining what assessments are available, it will help you determine as a professional what tool to use, or as a consumer, what testing might be administered to you in a professional setting.

Structured Interview

While an interview is not a test, it is one of the most important tools when determining what might be troubling a client. A counsellor or psychologist will ask a series of questions related to the symptoms of anxiety disorders (i.e., are you having difficulty falling and/or staying asleep; do you feel nervous without thinking about a specific, stressful event). These questions are designed to assess whether the client may have a specific disorder.


The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, 2nd Edition (MMPI-2) is a standardised test used to assess a person's whole personality based off of three different scales: validity, clinical and content. The MMPI-2 measures a number of psychological problems, anxiety being one of them.

The clinical scale measures anxiety through a section called "Psychasthenia." This part of the test looks at generalised anxiety and distress on a global scale, meaning a person who scores high in this area tends to be more nervous than the average person.

The content scale measures anxiety related to specific symptoms such as tension, sleep difficulties and difficulty concentrating.

The validity scale exists to ensure the results are as accurate as possible.


The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, Third Edition (MCMI-III), is a test specifically designed to help a therapist form a diagnosis.

The MCMI-III is divided into five different sections. Anxiety is analysed as part of the clinical syndrome scale. A score is converted into what is called a "base rate," which calculates the probability of the client fitting that diagnosis. For example, a base rate of 95 with anxiety indicates a strong likelihood that client is suffering from some type of anxiety disorder.

Beck Anxiety Inventory

Unlike the other assessment tools, the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) assesses only anxiety-related symptoms.

The data is collected through a highly structured interview covering 21 common symptoms of anxiety. The person answering the questions is asked to rate how much he has been bothered by a symptom in the past week.

The score yielded is meant to help the therapist make an accurate diagnosis and continue assessing for anxiety-related problems.

Assessments for Children

There are specific assessments designed for use with children. Both the MMPI-2 and the MCMI-III have adolescent versions. The MMPI-Adolescent Version (MMPI-A) can be used on those 14 to 18, and the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI) can be given to those 13 to 19.

For younger children, receiving information from adults often works better. The Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) has two age groups: 2 to 3 and 4 to 18. The CBCL, while originally meant to be completed by parents, can be done by other adults involved in a child's life such as a teacher.

The CBCL asks the person completing it to rate the child on 118 items and breaks down results into internalising and externalising behaviours. Anxiety falls under internalising behaviour, although externalising issues such as bed-wetting could be related to anxiety.

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