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The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM)

The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM) is a receptive music therapy, and one of the five international models of music therapy which requires advanced clinical training.  It consists of an in-depth approach to music psychotherapy, a creative process where imagery is evoked during music listening (Bonny, 1990).

Is a music and imagery-centred method informed by psychotherapeutic principlespe, where specifically programmed music is used to facilitate a dynamic   exploration of consciousness and inner experiences in support of physical and psychological transformation and well-being.  The method includes resource-oriented supportive and low-threshold work for clients, as well as   psychotherapeutically informed processing of conflicts and traumatic experiences. The method can also be used for personal, creative, and spiritual development. (European Assiciation for Music and Imagery, EAMI)


Based on a synthesis of Bonny’s writings (2002), Bonny Method of GIM may be defined as an individual form of exploring consciousness (e.g., in healing, psychotherapy, self-development, spiritual work), which involves spontaneous imaging, in an expanded state of consciousness to predesigned programs of classical music, while interacting with a guide who uses non-directive, non-analytical, music based interventions, within a client-centered orientation, all within a session that has the following components: preliminary conversation relaxation-induction, guided music-imaging experience, return, and postlude discussion. (Bruscia, 2002)


GIM belongs to the holistic and psychodynamic traditions of psychotherapy and it can lead to the development of self-understanding, the ordering of the psyche and the achievement of spiritual insight (Clark and Keiser, 1986).


It can be applied to almost all populations and age groups (incl. young adults), as a healing tool to address a broad range of psychological and self-development issues.


More specifically, GIM can:

  • Activate our innate capacity for healing and transformation,

  • Help “…explore the most significant aspects of the psyche” (L. Summer)

  • Provide encouragement to get through difficult emotions and life situations,

  • Help reduce fears and anxieties,

  • Reduce stress and enhance a state of well-being,

  • Allow unresolved issues to surface, be addressed,and even come to closure

  • Help to remove mental and emotional blocks.


A typical GIM session  can be up to 90' in total, and consists of five main parts; The Pre-Talk, the Relaxation/induction, the Music Listening (Travel),  and the post-talk.

  • The Pre-Talk: Information is taken and issues of the here- and- now are addressed.

  • The Relaxation and Induction: The Therapist-Guide helps the client into a relaxed state of body and mind, so that he/she can be ready to “be- with” and “in” the music.   

  • The Travel: The main part of the session. The client, while in a relaxed state,engages in a reflective dialogue with the guide, aimed to facilitate a spontaneous unfolding of images, feelings, senses, thoughts or memories elicited by the music.

  • The Mandala: Other forms of Art are used to represent the significant parts of the experience. (Mandala, music making, other.)

  • The Post-Talk: Exploration and conversation on the inner meaning and interpretations of the images, senses, feelings that have occurred during the music listening.

There are scientific evidence for the effectiveness of GIM in various clinical fields. 



Here you can read my article "Guided Imagery and Music with the Visually Impaired: Help me Stay with the Light", (Music & Medicine | 2016 | Volume 8 | Issue 2 | Pages 45 – 54)

Here is what a client shares about her Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) experience:


“I was fascinated and hopeful with the idea of using music to travel to the deepest part of myself, to face my monsters and my fears. I was also a little scared, because once you open a Pandora box; you never know what might come out of it(……).The travel itself is amazing: it's like dreaming, while you are actually awake. It's an experience that I would love to be able to describe with words, but it is so unique, that you must really live it yourself (...) and I also think that probably for everyone is different. . The goal is to be able to reconnect with yourself, with your emotions and with your monsters, (…) to discover yourself; it makes you face things that probably you wouldn't be able to share in a normal verbal therapy session.”(“The Lost Voice”)








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