Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Alison Garton


Introduced to modern psychiatry in 1938, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the application of an electrical current to the brain, administered under a general anaesthetic and with the use of muscle relaxants. The procedure is primarily used for psychiatric disorders and remains a controversial intervention. Issues of contention centre on claims of efficacy, safety and the validity of “informed” consent. Prominent side effects include memory loss with psychological sequelae reported to include fear, grief and loss. Previous studies of mental health professionals report experience of working in a ECT environment increases knowledge and promotes a positive attitude. Very few studies have included psychologists who are reported to be generally negative towards the procedure. Given the nature of the side effects of this psychiatric procedure, lack of knowledge about ECT may influence the practice of psychologists. The aims of this study were to assess the knowledge of, and attitudes towards ECT of clinical psychologists in Western Australia. Information was also elicited from clinicians about their experience of working with clients who have undergone ECT. In particular, the survey elicited information of practice issues with these clients.

Included in

Psychology Commons