Adverse Childhood Experiences Worksheet

Video & audio overview of the worksheet

What is the theory behind the worksheet?

Toxic stress impacts growth and stability in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Early exposure to toxic stress through events such as Adverse Childhood experiences (ACEs) increases the possibility of an individual having less internal resilience to further stressful situations, the development of mental health concerns, and an overall lower quality of life.

This does not have to be the case. If you have experienced ACEs you are able to process them and build your resilience toward future stress by learning coping strategies. It is helpful to engage with this process within a therapeutic setting.

How will the worksheet help?

This worksheet offers a helpful activity of creating a timeline to help you gain an overview of the important events of your life, including any ACEs you have gone through. However, more than this the worksheet offers you the opportunity to identify areas where you have built up resilience and helpful coping strategies and areas where you still require assistance.

This can help you identify goals for therapy or ideas for continued personal development.

How to use the worksheet?

Creating your timeline can be as creative a task as you wish. You can follow the basic template where you just write down the event, but you could also use art supplies to add drawings, symbols, colors, and descriptions to these events.

Once you have completed the timeline itself you can move to the boxes at the top of the timeline. These boxes are for you to highlight areas of strength that you have developed or received (this could be coping strategies, people you trust, achievements, etc.). These boxes are to help you see that no matter what your timeline looks like, there are positive factors around and within you.

You can then fill in the bottom boxes. These boxes represent areas you are still struggling with and may need help to process and move forward from. 

It is a good idea to work through this activity or share the results with a mental health practitioner, especially if there are many elements in the bottom boxes that you are unsure how to deal with and require support.

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Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University. (2024). ACEs And Toxic Stress: Frequently Asked Questions.