Guided Imagery and Music Therapy (GIM)

Developed by Helen L. Bonny, PhD (1921-2010), GIM therapy makes use of the enormous potential of music to help individuals resolve difficult life issues.... Music evokes emotional responses. It is like a key that opens our psyche and facilitates access to our innermost experiences and feelings.

Experience the transformative and healing power of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music facilitated by board certified music therapist, Maria Carlini.

What is GIM?

The Bonney method of GIM is a therapeutic technique using selections of classical and contemporary music and a trained facilitator to engage the client in vivid personal imagery. By using specially sequenced music, the client is guided to approach and work through personal life issues. This can lead to emotional release, insights, and the stimulation of creative and spiritual impulses.

These experiences are reflections unique to each person in terms of  relationships, feelings, and personality. Glimpses of transpersonal inspiration may occur which can both challenge and nurture a person's sense of self and who he or she can become.

What are the benefits of GIM?

GIM has been successfully used with adults and children. It is applied as a problem-solving therapy for a wide range of personal themes. It has been found especially effective for clients seeking help with:

  • Anxieties, grief, and loss
  • Relationship and divorce related issues
  • Career changes and stages of transition in life
  • Health issues
  • Stress and burnout situations
  • Trauma, abandonment, and sexual abuse
  • Creativity blocks and negative thinking
  • Old and burdening memories that need to be resolved
  • Compulsions and addictions
  • Spiritual and transpersonal journeys

GIM can uncover strong emotions. GIM work is not recommended in cases of serious mental disorders.

How does a GIM session work?

In an extended session of up to two hours, client and facilitator discuss the client's current life situation, set goals for working together, and establish a focus for the session. After following a guided relaxation, the client's attention is then turned to listening to the selected music, allowing it to become a vehicle for exploring deeper states of consciousness.

The client is asked to verbalize to the facilitator the images, feelings, sensations, memories, and other awarenesses evoked by the music. The facilitator interacts verbally with the client to help develop and expand his or her imagery experiences. At the close of the music, the facilitator assists the client to return from the deepened state and reinforces the insights the client has gleaned from the exploration.

How is a GIM music program designed?

GIM therapy uses mainly classical music. Helen L. Bonny and her team designed more than 40 music programs for a particular purpose and type of exploration. The music selections are carefully chosen by the facilitator. The chosen music relates very individually to the emotional situation of the client.

The music and facilitator are a team. The facilitator cooperates with the music. When the music becomes louder, the facilitator becomes silent, and when the music is giving space, the facilitator asks questions. The questions help the client focus on the emerging imagery. At the beginning of a session, frequently asked questions might be:

  • "Where are you right now?"
  • "What are you drawn to?"
  • "What do you feel?"

Additional interventions can follow to help deepen the inner experience. Guiding comments such as:

  • "Allow the music to be with you."
  • "Does the music bring you anything?"
  • "Let the music help you letting go of ..."
  • "What is the music telling you?"

How is a GIM session concluded?

After about 25-30 minutes the music program comes to a close and the client is prepared to end the inner journey, to open his or her eyes and come back to the here and now. Along with the facilitator, the client processes the messages/insights of the session and how they might relate to everyday life. Often the client is asked to draw a Mandala that reflects the experiences of the session in colors and shapes. This enables the client to gain closure and have time for integration.


Individuals who experience GIM can undergo profound changes and, as a result of one or more sessions, make choices that lead to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.