Multi-Theoretical Psychotherapy

Psychological .


Various approaches have emerged over the years to address the complexities of the human mind. One such approach is Multi-Theoretical Psychotherapy (MTP) which combines elements from different theoretical frameworks to provide a comprehensive and tailored treatment experience. MTP is therefore integrative approach that draws upon multiple theoretical perspectives in psychology to create a personalised treatment plan for individuals seeking therapy.

In MTP, therapists draw from various theoretical perspectives such as the ones listed above, and tailor their interventions based on the unique needs and goals of each individual client. This approach allows therapists to utilise a wide range of therapeutic techniques and strategies to address different aspects of a client’s experience. By combining elements from various theories, such as Cognitive Behavioural, Psychodynamic, Humanistic, and Systemic approaches, this therapy aims to address the unique needs and challenges of each client. MTP provides a flexible and comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing psychological issues. This approach recognises that no single theory can fully explain the complexity of human behaviour and mental health.

The core idea behind MTP is to integrate the strengths of different theories to create a more holistic and personalised treatment approach. By considering various perspectives, therapists can better understand the client’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and relationships. This approach also recognises the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the collaborative nature of the therapy process.


MTP was developed by Jeff E. Brooks-Harris and his colleagues at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the early 2000s. MTP is centred around 5 core principles for integration:

  1. Intentional – This refers to the therapist’s deliberate and purposeful approach in working with the client, whereby the therapist actively assists the client in setting clear goals and objectives for therapy.
  2. Multi-Dimensional – This acknowledges that individuals are complex beings with intersecting dimensions. It takes into account various factors that influence a person’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours, including their physical, emotional, social and cultural dimensions. The therapist considers these dimensions in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the client’s experiences and to develop personalised treatment plans.
  3. Multi-Theoretical – This refers to the integration of different therapeutic approaches and techniques. Instead of relying solely on one theoretical framework, MTP therapists draw from various evidence-based theories and models, incorporating the most effective strategies from each in order to meet the unique needs of each individual client.
  4. Strategy-Based – This emphasises the use of specific therapeutic strategies and interventions. The MTP therapist employs a range of evidence-based techniques that have been proven effective in achieving the most desired outcomes. The focus is on implementing a strategy that best aligns with the client’s goals and needs.
  5. Relational – This highlights the importance of the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client. The therapist understands that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is crucial for facilitating change and creating a safe and supportive environment. They aim to establish a trusting and collaborative relationship where their clients feel heard, respected and understood.

Being intentional involves making informed decisions regarding the treatment focus, theoretical framework, intervention strategies, and relational dynamics. MTP encourages therapists to think in a multi-dimensional manner, acknowledging the intricate interplay between thoughts, actions, and emotions within the context of biology, interpersonal patterns, social systems, and cultural contexts.

MTP utilises a multi-theoretical framework to structure both training and treatment. Therapists can employ a combination of theories to develop a multi-theoretical conceptualisation that helps them understand clients and guide interventions. MTP emphasises an interactive approach that addresses thoughts, actions and emotions. Cognitive strategies are employed to foster adaptive thinking, behavioural interventions promote effective actions, and experiential-humanistic skills are utilised to explore and understand emotions and personal experiences.

The concept of MTP emerged as a response to the limitations of single-theory approaches.

Success Statistics

While specific success rates for MTP are not readily available, research indicates that integrative approaches in general can be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions. studies have shown that integrating multiple theories can enhance treatment outcomes by addressing various aspects of a client’s psychological functioning. However, it is important to note that success rates vary depending on the individual, the therapist’s skills, and the specific therapeutic techniques employed.

Treatable Problems

MTP is versatile and can be applied to various mental health conditions. It has shown promise in treating anxiety disorders, personality disorders, trauma-related disorders, substance abuse, relationship issues and more. By drawing from different theories, therapists can tailor the treatment to address the unique factors contributing to each client’s condition.

MTP is particularly beneficial for individuals who have not found success with single-theory approaches or those with complex and multi-faceted issues. It is well-suited for clients who require a holistic understanding of their difficulties and desire a personalised treatment plan that integrates different therapeutic perspectives. Additionally, this approach can be valuable for individuals seeking personal growth and self-exploration, as it encourages a comprehensive exploration of their thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

The specific techniques and interventions used in MTP can vary depending on the therapist’s training and the client’s needs. Some common techniques include cognitive re-structuring, exploration of unconscious processes, emotion-focused interventions, mindfulness practices, and systemic interventions to address relational dynamics. MTP offers a flexible and adaptable approach to therapy, allowing therapists to tailor their interventions to the unique needs of each client. By integrating multiple theories, this approach aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of clients’ concerns and promote positive change and growth.

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Norcross, J.C. and Goldfried, M.R. eds., 2005. Handbook of psychotherapy integration. Oxford University Press.


Sommers-Flanagan, J., Richardson, B.G. and Sommers-Flanagan, R., 2011. A multi-theoretical, evidence-based approach for understanding and managing adolescent resistance to psychotherapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy41, pp.69-80.

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