An example of technical eclecticism, multimodal therapy was developed primarily by Arnold Lazarus.
He provided the groundwork for this approach in
Multimodal Behavior Therapy
Practice of Multimodal Therapy
) and continues to develop this treatment system.
Arnold Lazarus was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1932, the youngest of four children. He
received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1960 from the University of the Witwaterstrand in
Johannesburg. At the invitation of Albert Bandura, a well-known social learning theorist, Lazarus,
accompanied by his wife and two children, joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1963. He also
studied with Joseph Wolpe, another pioneer in behavior therapy. (The contributions of Wolpe and
Bandura are discussed in
Although Lazarus’s early work reflected his training in behavior therapy, he soon recognized the
limitations of that approach and began to incorporate cognitive and other strategies into his work.
Suggesting that clinicians take a broad view of people and ways to help, Lazarus advocates technical
eclecticism which draws on many theories and strategies to match treatment to client and problem.
Lazarus’s contribution to eclectic therapy is only one of many ways in which he has broken new
ground. He recently challenged traditional client-clinician boundaries by suggesting that clinicians can
be more helpful to some clients if they modify those boundaries, perhaps by playing tennis or having
lunch with clients. A former boxer, Lazarus’s feisty spirit and outspoken behavior are reflected in his
Lazarus served on the faculties of Stanford University, Temple University Medical School, and Yale
University and now is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University (Lazarus,
has written more than 200 articles and 16 books, most on multimodal therapy. Lazarus has received
many awards, including the Distinguished Psychologist Award from the American Psychological
Association. He is widely recognized as the leading proponent of technical eclecticism.
Theory and Practice of Multimodal Therapy
According to Lazarus (
), “Human disquietude is multileveled and multilayered…. few, if any,
problems have a single cause or unitary ‘cure’” (p. 2). Consequently, treatment needs to be flexible and
versatile, drawing on a variety of approaches. For Lazarus, technical eclecticism is the ideal way to
plan such a treatment.
In describing technical eclecticism, Lazarus and Beutler (
) wrote, “Technical eclectics select
procedures from different sources without necessarily subscribing to the theories that spawned them;
they work within a preferred theory but recognize that few techniques are inevitably wedded to any
theory. Hence, they borrow techniques from other orientations based on the proven worth of these
procedures” (p. 384). The ability to address client concerns from multiple vantage points