Guided Imagery and Music

The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) is a music-centred, transformational therapy, which uses specifically programmed classical music to stimulate and support a dynamic unfolding of inner experiences in the service of physical, psychological and spiritual wholeness (Definition of the Association of Music and Imagery).

It combines aspects of music therapy with aspects of psychological therapies to assist clients to gain insights in order to face difficult life situations. This may include dealing with chronic pain and illness, as well as working towards healing of past traumas, painful memories and current life challenges towards personal, physical and spiritual growth and wholeness.

More about Guided Imagery and Music

Guided Imagery and Music Violin
In this method of Guided imagery and music, the music acts as a co-therapist. The music itself can bring healing, as well as guide the client to explore aspects of their inner selves. It provides the support, structure and security that we need to work through difficult emotions and situations.

For many years, research has also shown the physiological effects of various kinds of music. Music has been shown to affect blood pressure, heart rate, management of pain and certain hormones associated with our response to stress. This method acknowledges these effects and utilizes these effects to enhance the therapeutic process.

The other distinctive aspect of this form of therapy is the use of imagery during a session. It has long been known that our inner selves communicate via imagery, and not by cognitive thought process. In Guided Imagery and music, the music encourages and allows spontaneous imagery to emerge, which has enormous potential to uncover and explore issues in our inner selves. It mirrors our internal reality, and is a creative link to our inner selves. This imagery is also able to give us insight into how to deal with our difficulties, as well as to mobilize our inner strengths, healing and coping mechanisms. Each person has the inner wisdom and healing capacity needed to move towards growth and wholeness.

What happens in a GIM Session?

Guided Imagery and Music - Piano

In the first session the therapist and the client discuss the client’s needs and reasons for wanting to do GIM, and it is an important time toestablish a good working relationship. The therapist then discusses more about GIM and what to expect in a session. This session also includes a short piece of music with imagery to introduce the client to the technique. If the client feels that they could relate to this form of music therapy, then further sessions are arranged.

In the next sessions, the client and therapist spend a short time discussing the focus of the session. The music is very carefully chosen to match the client’s needs and focus for the session. The therapist then assists the client to relax and begins the music. As imagery begins to spontaneously emerge, the therapist may ask questions to help the client become more aware of their imagery. The therapist may assist the client to work through difficult imagery if needed, but always invites, and does not direct the client or their imagery. The music programme is designed to allow entry into spontaneous imagery, then to deepen the experience, and then provide the path back out. When the music has finished the therapist and client explore the experience in order to gain insights, and work with the material experienced during the GIM journey. Usually a creative method, example creating a mandala, or possibly clay work are used first, prior to the GIM therapist assisting the client to integrate what has been gained through the sessions. Sometimes, it is preferable to process the GIM imagery by talking about it first. This is based on each client’s needs.

Who would benefit from GIM?

Guided Imagery and Music - Trumpet

Guided Imagery and music (GIM) may be offered simply on an individual level. This means that a client may come to GIM, and the GIM therapist is the only person

There are times when clients have been receiving conventional psychological /psychiatric care and feel that they have hit a “roadblock”. In this case, because GIM is a very different method and experience, clients may find this a more effective treatment than regular counselling or psychotherapy. This in no way implies that the care they have already received (or are still receiving) is ineffective. It is simply that some people respond best to different approaches, and that care is best individualized to each client’s needs and personality.