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Assessing Strengths: Using the BERS

The Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS) (Epstein & Sharma, 1998) was developed to respond to the growing demand for a standardized tool for assessing and evaluating strengths. The BERS is a 52-item scale designed to measure the emotional and behavioral strengths of children and adolescents. The scale offers practitioners a highly valid and reliable method of assessing five domains of childhood strengths: Interpersonal Strength, Family Involvement, Intrapersonal Strength, School Functioning, and Affective Strength. The first dimension, Interpersonal Strength, measures a child’s ability to regulate his or her emotions and behaviors in social settings (e.g., "uses anger management skills", "shares with others and apologizes to others when wrong"). Second, the dimension of Family Involvement evaluates the quality of the relationship between the child and his or her family (e.g., "interacts positively with parents", "complies with rules at home"). Intrapersonal Strength measures a child’s perception of his or her competence and accomplishments (e.g., "enjoys a hobby", "is popular with peers"). School Functioning assesses a child’s competence in school (e.g., "pays attention in class" and "completes tasks on time"). Affective Strength assesses on the child’s ability to express feelings and accept affection from others (e.g., "acknowledges painful feelings," "asks for help").

The BERS can be used by any adult who is knowledgeable about the child’s behavior. When completing the BERS, respondents are asked to rate the items on a four point Likert-type scale (0 = not at all like the child, 1 = not much like the child, 2 = like the child, 3 = very much like the child; the higher the score the greater the perceived strength). In addition, there are eight open-ended questions designed to collect information about the child’s interests, preferences and resources. The following case study illustrates how the BERS can be used in service and intervention planning.

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