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What Is Multimodal Therapy?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Multimodal therapy is a type of psychotherapy that advocates the need for customizing treatments for each individual. The core of this type of therapy is the belief that man, as a biological creature, has different ways of thinking, sensing, and feeling, all of which should be taken in consideration when treating psychological or behavioral disorders. Multimodal therapy can also be applied to physiological conditions by combining different approaches and methods in coming up with a proper treatment for the patient.

The development of the therapy is credited to Dr. Arnold Allan Lazarus, a South African psychologist who contributed to the advancement of psychology, particularly in behavior therapy. During the prime of his career, Dr. Lazarus realized that integrating different features from different psychotherapy ideologies may help obtain more effective treatments for patients. This concept of integration was initially termed as “broad-spectrum behavior therapy,” later becoming “multimodal therapy.”

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In order to create a tailored treatment, multimodal therapy usually looks into seven different aspects or “modalities” of a person, represented in the acronym “BASIC ID.” BASIC stands for: Behaviors, Affective — or emotional — responses, Sensation, Imagery, and Cognition; ID, on the other hand, stands for Interpersonal and Drugs/biology. In this way, the therapy acknowledges that a certain psychological condition affects not only a person’s behavior and emotions, but also his physiological and mental processes. For example, a depressed person will likely avoid people and become sad, but he can also experience chronic tiredness or insomnia and harbor negative and critical thoughts about himself.

To determine the patient's psychological condition, multimodal therapy usually requires the patients to truthfully answer a questionnaire that covers the BASIC ID factors. The questionnaire will usually come in the form of a Likert scale, where patients can choose from numbers, usually ranging from one to five, to agree or disagree with the questions. The questionnaire will also reveal if there is a predominance of a modality over the others. For example, if the answers in the questionnaire reveal that the patient may respond well with interaction, the psychologist may recommend the patient to have more interpersonal and social activities to treat depression.

Multimodal therapy also considers the patient’s personality or temperament a significant factor in forming a treatment that the patient will be most open to. Patients may have the same structural profile from their question, but their personalities will differ, and so will their receptiveness to the treatment. One of the advantages of multimodal therapy is that psychologists and therapists do not have to submit to just one psychological ideology, but rather, they are more open to using different strategies from different ideologies. This form of flexibility is called “technical eclecticism.”

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