Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Therapy

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) refers to 10 categories of emotional or physical neglect, abuse, trauma or household dysfunction that a person may experience prior to the age of 18.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study showed that the greater the number of adverse childhood experiences, referred to as your ACE Score, the greater the potential risk for developing major medical health issues, addiction, anxiety, depression, and other emotional and social problems.

As part of my trauma informed therapy approach, I routinely gather information to identify a client’s adverse childhood experiences. I also take an inventory of many other types of upsetting, stressful or traumatic experiences from childhood through the present. These types of experiences are often the root cause of present day problems and inform the therapy approach used to improve your well-being.

Understanding how your adverse childhood experiences, chronic stress, and dysfunctional family dynamics contribute to problematic coping mechanisms, relationships, mood symptoms, and physical illness, can help you be more understanding and less hard on yourself for the symptoms and problems that have brought you to my office.

What is your ACES score?

Below is the ACE Questionnaire, which I have permission to use through Francine Shapiro’s latest text book.

WHAT’S MY ACE SCORE? – ACE Questionnaire

Answer, Yes or No to each question. Add up the number of “Yes” answers.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often . . .
    Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you?
    Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often . . .
    Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you?
    Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever . . .
    Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?
    Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
  4. Did you often or very often feel that . . .
    No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special?
    Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
  5. Did you often or very often feel that . . .
    You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to
    protect you?
    Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
  6. Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason?
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her?
    Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard?
    Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
  10. Did a household member go to prison?

Add up your “Yes” answers. This is your ACE Score.

What does your ACE Score Mean?

In general, the higher your score, the greater your risk of health issues. However, it is important to keep in mind that your score does not mean you will definitely develop physical, mental or behavioral health issues. It is just one measure and is a guide. It doesn’t take into account factors that can offset the risk. For example, positive relationship experiences in childhood can build resilience and offset the impact of adverse childhood experiences and reduce the risk of physical and emotional health issues.

If you’d like to learn more about the ACE study and how to interpret your score visit this page on the Center for Disease Control website as they host the official website for information about the ACE study.

The ACE score also doesn’t take into account other types of chronic childhood stress or environmental factors that could increase your risk of emotional, behavioral, or physical health issues.

The good news is that our brain and body can change. Counseling, EMDR Therapy, Brain Health Coaching, other therapies, healthy habits and positive relationships can heal and offset the risks of adverse childhood experiences.

How I Can Help You – I understand that time, talk, hard work, willpower, and positive attitude alone often do not put the pain and effects of upsetting experiences behind us. I specialize in helping clients heal from the impact of adverse childhood experiences, chronic childhood stress, as well as upsetting experiences and trauma as an adult.

To learn more about my evidenced based, root cause, integrative approach, please visit My Approach page.

Or just give me a call and we’ll discuss your situation and determine if I’m the best fit for you.