Strengths: Using the BERS
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 childs 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 childs
perception of his or her competence and accomplishments (e.g., "enjoys a hobby",
"is popular with peers"). School Functioning assesses a childs competence
in school (e.g., "pays attention in class" and "completes tasks on
time"). Affective Strength assesses on the childs 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 childs 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 childs interests, preferences and resources. The following
case study illustrates how the BERS can be used in service and intervention planning.
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