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What are Treatment Modalities?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Treatment modalities can be simply defined as methods of treatment. These are ways in which a doctor or an allied health professional would go about treating a condition. It’s not surprising to note that examples of varying treatments could include many methods. Some people are expert in a single method, and others have training in a number of different areas, all of which may be brought to bear for the benefit of a client or patient.

Another way in which treatment modalities is used is to talk about care options for the same disease. Instead of referring to a practitioner’s methods, the term could be used to think about all approaches and the theories behind them that could be used. For instance, when people have hemorrhoids, doctors might consider the modalities available to determine best type of care. Options could include giving minor pain relief and changing diet while the matter resolves, using techniques that remove the hemorrhoids, or taking a surgical approach to cure protrusions not responding to other methods. These different methods are each modalities or ways of accomplishing the same thing, and most doctors expert in this issue would have experience with most methods.

Similarly, doctors can explore treatments for a variety of medical conditions. In cancer, multiple modalities like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy could be used for treatment. Alternately, one method alone could be effective.

The idea of using multiple treatment modalities is common in therapeutic and psychiatric practice. Some therapists are trained in one method only. They could be cognitive behavioral therapists, psychoanalysts, or humanists, or they might have many other approaches to healing the mind. Others have studied a number of different therapeutic methods, which they will draw on and use for patients as is needed.

For example, a psychodynamic therapist might spend time relying on cognitive behavioral therapy methods, depending on a client’s needs. Many therapists of different types learn how to use eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to work with people who have experienced trauma or who are sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder. A Jungian therapist could be a hypnotist, and the list goes on.

As with treating something cancer, treatment modalities in therapy may require a medical approach too. People with illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, dissociative disorders, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder may benefit from medication, which a therapist cannot prescribe. Psychiatrists or other medical doctors may diagnose and treat mental conditions within the medical context, while a therapist offers modalities that are different. Using medical/therapeutic methods jointly often is considered to have the best chance of success.

Within each medical or related field, treatment types may differ. Doctors and other health practitioners could be specialists in one method or have to know all possible treatment modalities that are likely to improve health. There can be huge range in approaches, encompassing not only western medical standards, but ideas on healing that arise from traditional, comprehensive or alternative medicine sources.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By lovelife — On Feb 27, 2011

@extrordinary--I used to work at a sports club and we saw tennis elbow a great deal. The first thing you should do is check with a physical therapist. Sometimes they will treat it with alternating heat and cold compresses.

Other modalities used to treat tennis elbow are ultrasound, massage, and specific ranges of motion exercises.

By extrordinary — On Feb 25, 2011

Can anyone tell me what kind of modalities a tennis elbow treatment would consist of? My son was recently diagnosed with this. It is very painful and swollen. Thanks for your help.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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