Childhood Emotional Incest Scale (CEIS): Development, Validation, Cross-Validation, and Reliability

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Çimşir E., Akdoğan R.

JOURNAL OF COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY, vol.68, no.1, pp.98-111, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 68 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1037/cou0000439
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ASSIA, IBZ Online, Periodicals Index Online, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Child Development & Adolescent Studies, CINAHL, Communication & Mass Media Index, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), EMBASE, Gender Studies Database, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.98-111
  • Keywords: Childhood Emotional Incest Scale, covert incest, childhood trauma, anxiety, life satisfaction, FIT INDEXES, PARENTIFICATION, DIFFERENTIATION, ADULTIFICATION, INTERVENTION, FAMILIES
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Describing a maladaptive parent-child relationship wherein a parent turns to a child for the satisfaction of emotional and/or relational needs, emotional incest remains an underinvestigated phenomenon. This is partly due to a lack of an empirically based measure of childhood emotional incest, and as a result, a 2-factor, 12-item scale was created based on expert opinion and a preliminary study of 319 university students. Each consisting of 6 items, the factors were called "Surrogate Spouse" and "Unsatisfactory Childhood." A follow-up study conducted with a second sample of 415 participants supports the 2-factor structure as a good fit to the data as well as the invariance of the scale across genders. The Childhood Emotional Incest Scale (CEIS) demonstrates good convergent validity with childhood emotional neglect (r = .58) and emotional abuse (r = .52) as well as good divergent validity with early memories of warmth and safeness (r = -0.54). The CEIS has also been found to be a stronger predictor of decreased life satisfaction and increased anxiety than the Parent-Focused Parentification subscale. Based on the values of internal consistency, composite reliability, and test-retest reliability, both factor and total scores of the CEIS can also be considered reliable. Therefore, as a measure of childhood emotional experiences for the retrospective assessment of adults, the 12-item CEIS can be utilized in the research of counseling, psychology, and education, particularly with regard to expanding knowledge into the roots and consequences of emotional incest and promoting parenting practices and marital/relational dynamics that are more functional.