MultiModal Therapy


Arnold Lazarus was a Behaviour Therapist (he coined the term), who developed what became MultiModal Therapy (MMT) as he built on the premise that we are basically biological beings who experience emotions, think, imagine, smell & touch, and relate to others as well as act, which at that time, Behaviour Therapy had limited itself to. 

Lazarus lists the modalities in the acronym BASIC I.D.

  • B     Behaviour

  • A     Affect (emotions)

  • S     Sensation (touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste)

  •     Imagery (thinking in pictures, self-image)

  • C     Cognition (thinking in words, beliefs, attitudes, opinions, thinking styles)

  • I      Interpersonal (how we relate to others)

  • D     Drugs & biology (medications, substances, diet, exercise, general health, sleep)


Click on the diagram for MultiModal Self Help & Treatment PlanClick for Self Help in 7 modalities

MMT has therefore developed into a therapy that incorporates all elements of our personality, rather than restricting therapy to one or two dimensions.  A MultiModal Life History Inventory, which is usually offered to clients to complete at home following the initial consultation, helps the therapist and client to identify those modalities (dimensions) that the client prioritises and/or is neglecting.  Therapy can therefore commence with the most appropriate modality which is likely to be most beneficial to that client.  Therapy will include interventions in all modalities, and the interventions may include effective techniques from other psycho-therapeutic approaches.

From this multimodal assessment, a treatment plan is devised and will include interventions in each modality.  For example, someone who is very passive when relating to other people, will plan some assertiveness training.  Someone who is depressed might have the following example treatment plan:

  • Stays in bed
  • stays home - minimal contact with friends and family
  • Do little
  • Specific behavioural goals
  • Increase contact and time with others
  • Activity scheduling
  • Depressed, sad
  • Guilt feelings
  • Explore triggers and associated thoughts
  • Encourage positive activity (mastery and pleasure)
  • Tiredness
  • Relaxation
  • Listening to inspiring music
  • Poor self-image, recurring images of past events and possible future problems
  • Confidence & coping imagery
  • Negative filter
  • Self-critical thoughts
  • Challenge unhelpful thoughts and thinking styles
  • Distancing & Refocus of attention
  • Passive behaviour
  • Avoids social contact
  • Assertiveness
  • Increase social contact, social skills
Drugs / biology  
  • Takes anti-depressants
  • Uses alcohol to feel better sometimes
  • No physical exercise
  • Monitor and reduce alcohol use
  • Increase physical activity

Download and complete your own Treatment Plan - Adobe file

MMT is adapted to each client.  Three depressed clients might receive three very different courses of therapy, as a result of identifying and tuning into the client's preferred modality ("bridging") and, then identifying and prioritising the client's firing order of the modalities ("tracking").  In addition, at the initial interview, each client is asked what they want from their therapist, and how they want their therapist to act - perhaps reflective or more directive, although Lazarus cautions about wasting time, and advocates that MMT is a brief but comprehensive psychotherapy.



From an email I received from Dr Arnold A. Lazarus on 8.3.2011:  " (this page) is an excellent summary of the approach, well written and clinically accurate."

He gave permission for the below linked MMT resources to be added to this site.

Sally, Dr Lazarus died in 2013.


Multimodal Therapy Books

MP3 guided imagery/relaxation downloads









Sitemap & Search

Carol Vivyan