Certified Product – SMQ Assessment2019-05-23T15:53:00-05:00

Stress Mastery Questionnaire (SMQ)

The SMQ is a scientifically developed stress self-assessment tool that provides clear and precise information about how well one is mastering stress. The SMQ is the starting point in the total Stress Mastery Program and is used to help individuals grain a deeper understand of their personal stress; in effect, the SMQ is a “self-diagnostic” that helps identify key behaviors and attitudes that reflect the level of stress one is experiencing. As a result, the SMQ enables each person to focus on specifically what to change in order to reduce and master stress.


While the stress response is universal, how stress reveals itself varies from person to person. In addition, people adapt to increasing levels of stress and “tune-out” the warning signs that stress may be a problem. Using 87 psychometrically created questions, the SMQ provides a way to view personal stress in three (3) key areas with 11 unique scales:

Time Urgency

Physical Stress Effects
Life/Work Satisfaction

Life Events


The Stress Mastery Program begins with the SMQ that is taken online. After completing the SMQ, each person receives the following:

Immediately after completing the SMQ online, each person receives feedback on their stress “risk” scores in the form of a one-page Personal Stress Profile. The Profile compares a person’s scores on each of the 11 SMQ scales to the norm group. This summary shows the assigned level of stress “risk” for each of the scales.

A detailed nine-page Stress Report is then emailed to the individual, trainer or coach, depending on who ordered the assessment. The Report is used for personal review and self-exploration, or by a professional trainer or coach in a stress coaching or training program. The Report presents the person’s actual responses to the 87 SMQ questions along with their level of stress “risk” for each major Scale. Both the Profile and Report are important tools to providing clear feedback on what behaviors and thinking styles might be changed to prevent stress from recurring or to reduce the impact of stress on one’s body, health and performance.


Armed with the information from the Stress Master Profile and Report, each person receives a 67-page Stress Mastery Guide and Workbook to use personally or in a group setting. The Guide section provides detailed information about each of the 11 SMQ scales along with evidence-based suggestions and recommendations on What to Know and What to Do to change or modify the underlying behavior or attitude causing stress. The Guide and Workbook can be used many ways; e.g., as a self-study guide on how to master stress, integrated into a company stress management/mastery training program, or by counselor/coach in a stress coaching session.

In order to facilitate change and personal development, the Workbook section provides specific exercises to follow that helps one explore each of the 11 SMQ scales in greater detail. The workbook also provides a way to journal important concepts, ideas and suggestions gained from the Guide. The intent of the Guide/Workbook is to created sufficient clarity as to the nature and cause of one’s stress so that a plan for personal development and change can be created. The Workbook highlights each scale’s questions with a place to write in reflections and comments on the meaning of the scale and what one might do to build stress mastery and resilience. At the end of the Guide/Workbook is a Commitment For Change Form that focuses on the one or two most important things to change. The Guide/Workbook is an effective manual that  helps each person to take the first step toward mastering stress.


About the SMQ Assessment

The SMQ is grounded in the evidence-based research on stress by Dr. James Petersen, Ph.D., author of the SMQ, and others notable psychologists as Hans Selye, MD (Stress Theory), Friedman and Rosenmann (Type-A Personality), Aaron Beck (Cognitive Restructuring), Albert Ellis (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy – REBT), Herbert Benson (Relaxation Response) and many others.

The SMQ was created by Dr. James Petersen for use with clients in his Biofeedback and Stress Management Clinic. The purpose of the SMQ was to help people with chronic stress and stress related disorders to gain insight into how they are responding to life/work stressors and to develop a clearer view of their unique. The SMQ was created using standard psychometric techniques with a focus on designing questions that had content and construct validity related to stress.

After a few years of successful use in the clinic, the University of Arizona’ Medical School requested to use the SMQ in a stress management program called Project Well Aware funded by the Kellogg Foundation. Dr. Petersen was asked to create a shorter version of the SMQ. Through consultation with experts in the field of psychology, along with a careful review of all questions, a short-form of the SMQ was created and, then, used successfully in the program.

In 1982, Dr. Petersen received a grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct a validation study of the SMQ. At the time, there were few valid tools to measure available. A research study was designed and the SMQ administered to a stratified random sample of employees from seven different companies. Upon completion of the study, the data were statistical analyzed to determine the validity of the scales using Factor Analysis, Discriminant Analysis, and other standard statistical procedures. The result demonstrated the validity of the scales and the current version of the SMQ was created.


The SMQ is a valid and reliable stress “risk” assessment tool that be adapted to any stress management or wellness program. The SMQ was created using standard psychometric test development methodology and subsequently validated through a rigorous year-long study supported by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (N.I.O.S.H.). The SMQ is one of only a few scientifically developed stress risk assessment tools currently available and is recognized as the “gold standard” for use in stress management training, coaching and personal self-development programs.


The SMQ has met the rigid scientific standards of this American Institute of Stress and has been recognized as a Certified Stress Assessment Product that can be used with confidence by professionals in their stress management and stress mastery training and coaching programs. The AIS Seal and credentials inform the public that the certificate holder commands advanced knowledge of the latest stress research and stress management techniques.


Thousands of people have taken the SMQ with a 100% Approval Rating and excellent results. A variety of professionals, such as psychologists, physicians, training and development experts, counselors, social workers, wellness and health coaches and many others are using the SMQ and the Stress Mastery Program to help solve the global stress problem; here is what they are saying …

“I just took the assessment and I think it is great! It was simple, didn’t take too long, and easy to understand. I really liked the [Stress Mastery] Guide as well, especially the Commitment for Change Section, as many of the clients we work with have difficulty with follow through. I will be trying this assessment with a client next week Wednesday and will also be presenting this to the occupational therapists and social workers. Thank you very much for being prompt and providing trials for us to try to determine the need for the assessment. I will keep you posted! Thank you.”- YN, OTS

“I have been reading my “Highs” (scores on the SMQ) and I thank you for hitting it on the head. My Anger, Time Urgency, Tension highs describe me perfectly. I will be using this info taking to my group counseling sessions for discussion and input.” – An Individual. B.F. in New Port Richey “

“I would just like to recommend the Stress Management Questionnaire (SMQ) as a key organizational tool to help employers to effectively identify and help manage stress within the workplace. Dr. Peterson has developed a comprehensive stress questionnaire that provides users with a comprehensive analysis and report that enables the participant to gain a greater understanding of potential triggers of stress within their lives that can be used to develop an effective stress management action plan to improve their overall health & wellbeing.” – P.B Wellness Provider – UK

“On a personal note, I have found the SMQ to be a robust, informative tool, based on sound theory and practice. I am definitely an advocate of the Stressmaster philosophy!” – J.L. (UK Consultancy)