Services: Guided Imagery and Music Sessions

What is GIM?

Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) is a therapeutic process using music and a trained facilitator to create an environment to facilitate personal insight that provides answers and guidance for significant life issues. The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM) is a “music centered exploration of consciousness which uses specifically sequenced music programs to stimulate and sustain a dynamic unfolding of inner experiences” (AMI, 2000). GIM supporters believe: imagery and music are therapeutic agents; transpersonal and psychodynamic aspects are part of therapeutic process; and expanded awareness results in major therapeutic benefits (Burns & Woolrich, 2008).

GIM is based upon humanistic and transpersonal theories that emphasize the attentiveness of the individual and the influence of music on ego development. The classical music programs in the BMGIM provide structure and direction for the experience (Bonny & Pahnke, 1972).  Essentially music is the impetus that releases unconscious material such as feelings, images, and memories for use in therapy.

Who benefits from GIM?

GIM has been used successfully with for a wide range of clients. It has been found to be useful for people seeking assistance with:

Amy with GIM Trainer Liz Moffitt
(click to enlarge)
  • Relationship Problems
  • Career Changes
  • Health Issues
  • Stress and Anxiety Related Issues
  • Spiritual and Existential questions
  • Grief and Loss
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Sexual, Physical and Emotional Abuse
  • Clarity about Life Experiences


GIM sessions hold the potential for uncovering deep emotional issues and unconscious material. GIM is not recommended for people with serious mental disorders.

How Does the Music Work in the BMGIM?

Music is prescribed to enable the imagery process. The creator of the method, Helen Bonny produced numerous music programs including: Caring, Peak Experiences, Imagery, Grieving, Relationships, and Mostly Bach etcetra (Bonny, 1978). The therapist in the BMGIM is known as the “guide” and Bonny identified three qualifications of a guide:  personality; training; and, commitment.

BMGIM Session Structure

The BMGIM session format commonly unfolds through four different phases (Bonny, 1978).

  1. Phase One: Opening conversation, client and therapist find a therapeutic focus for the session. Phase Two: is a relaxation induction, where the therapist guides the client through a short relaxation experience.
  2. Phase Three: The music-imagery experience (involves the therapist playing a specifically designed program of classical music and the client imaging to the music. During the music listening, the therapist dialogues with the client, supporting and encouraging the client’s spontaneous imaging to the music. This process continues until the music program ends usually around 30 to 40 minutes). 
  3. Phase Four: Return and post-talk (the therapist helps the client bring closure to the imagery experience, and return to an alert state of consciousness).


  • Association for Music and Imagery [AMI]. (2000). Welcome. Retrieved from Association for Music & Imagery
  • BONNY, H. (1978): Facilitating GIM sessions. Salina, KS: Bonny Foundation
  • Bonny, H.,  & Pahnke, W. (1972).  The use of music in psychedelic (LSD) psychotherapy.
  • Journal of Music Therapy, 9, 62-87.
  • Burns, D. & Woolrich, J.W. (2008). The Bonny method of guided imagery and music.
  • In Darrow,(ed.) Introduction to approaches in music therapy. U.S.: American Music Therapy Association Inc.