woman in need of therapy

What is Multimodal Treatment?


Sober Recovery Expert Author

woman in need of therapy

Multimodal Treatment (MMT) is based on the premise that humans are complex creatures who feel, act, think, sense, fantasize and interrelate. So a therapist dealing with mental and addictive disorders would have to address each of these aspects of personality since all reactions are said to be caused by the interaction of these complexities.

MMT’s author Arnold Lazarus , a 20th century psychologist, observed that anxiety disorder patients were more prone to relapse when given cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – that is behavioral and thought therapy. He put this down to a treatment form that failed to address all facets of the human condition. To bridge the gap between narrow and broad treatment, he thought up the idea of BASIC I.D. which is the essence of multimodal therapy today. It retains the basics of CBT but includes seven modalities relating to personality. MMT has since been used to treat a variety of conditions, including eating disorders and addiction.

Multimodal Treatment is a form of addiction and mental health treatment that aims to reflect the complexities of the human condition.

What does BASIC I.D. stand for?

This is the acronym for the way MMT operates. Each client has his or her own BASIC I.D created around seven modalities. Here’s how these modalities could be broken down in the context of addiction recovery.

  • B –stands for behavior, actions and habits that impact your recovery efforts

  • A –stands for affect, as in emotions such like anger, fear, and happiness on your present state

  • S – means the sensations that may impact your recovery such as racing heart, nausea, sweating tension and pain.

  • I – stands for the imagery and fantasies that plague your mind and lower your self-image

  • C – stands for cognition or the negative self talk and thoughts that inhibit your recovery

  • I – refers to interpersonal issues, such as how you relate to family and people in general, and what help they give when your life’s in a state of flux

  • D – stands for drugs, and biological and health aspects such as attitude to alcohol, drugs, diet, nutrition, and exercise, and how these impact your life

So addiction recovery might be addressed in this way by MMT. The 7 modalities help identify the root of the problem. Treatment efforts will then zone in on that dimension although the other modalities will still be referred to. The chief concern is to prevent a relapse. But nothing is cut in stone. The treatment plan is tailored to the client’s needs. This is one of the greatest advantages of MMT.

Taking an Inventory of Past Experiences

To assess these 7 modalities, and draw up a treatment plan, the MMT therapist will interview the client and have him or her fill out a questionnaire or Multimodal Life History Inventory. This will require general information such as: contact details, date of birth, marital status, employment, family and personal history, and details of mental health issues. Questions will also focus on relationship with parents, and possible traumatic childhood experiences such as bullying. The client will detail the central problem, how he or she handled it, the expected outcome of therapy and reasons for seeking therapy. Questions will also be asked relating to the BASIC I.D. A suitable treatment plan will then be drawn up based on the client’s needs as reflected in the questionnaire.

MMT Techniques

The MMT therapists use psychotherapeutic approaches, and they compliment these with some of the following interventions:

  • Behavior modifying programs

  • Social and life skills training

  • Guided visualization

  • Relaxation guidance

  • Anger control

  • Inspired self talk

The Advantages of MMT

MMT is worth a shot for the following reasons:

  • The detailed questionnaire helps the therapist to create a relevant treatment strategy. This increases the likelihood of success.

  • The combination treatment approach is unique for each client but can be changed up when necessary.

  • The 7 modalities underline all treatment because MMT operates on the premise that the client’s problems usually involve an interaction of several modalities rather than just one or two. However, the most problematic issue gets special treatment to help prevent relapse.

It’s Not For Everyone

MMT is not recommended for people who are manic, suicidal, or psychotic. A rigorous emergency type treatment would best suit them and safety and stability issues would have to predominate. It’s unlikely they’d be able to fill out the questionnaire that’s crucial to the start of treatment because doing so needs focus and clarity of mind.

Additionally, MMT is designed to benefit recovering addicts who can stay clean and sober. It will not work for those still using drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.


[1] What is multimodal treatment and why is it important?

[2] Multimodal Therapy.

[3] MMT – Basic I.D.

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