NYMC Faculty Publications


Patient- and Family-Centered Electroconvulsive Therapy

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Publication Date

June 2019


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


This article builds upon prior efforts to improve the quality of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) practice and care by encouraging the participation of family members in the ECT process. This participation included the presence of a family member or significant other (SO) in the treatment room during the ECT procedure. Suggestions for limiting that presence to the induction process and for providing limited physical contact with the patient are proposed. The participation of the SO during the pretreatment assessment process is encouraged. Because of possible impairment of memory and judgment, accurate information about the patient's condition and intercurrent life events, as provided by the SO, is often crucial. Furthermore, the patient's report may be influenced by the common experience of fear of ECT. Under these circumstances, an alliance with the SO may at times be more crucial than the alliance with the patient. The importance of establishing a therapeutic alliance with both patient and SO is emphasized. An illustrative clinical vignette is provided.