The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) is a music and imagery-based therapeutic process integrating Body, Mind, and Spirit to access untapped personal wisdom created by Helen Bonny. It utilizes specifically pre-determined, evidenced-based classical music programs and protocol to induce a Non-Ordinary State of Consciousness (NOS) and sensory imagery experience. GIM is a goal-driven therapeutic process, not entertainment, and is sometimes best termed ‘Music Psychotherapy.’
In addition to verbal discussion the GIM process involves a musical intervention. It is an experience described sometimes as ‘similar to being in a lucid dream.’ This is not what most people think of when they hear the term “Guided Imagery” where a human voice directs the experience with specific instruction. In fact, this is quite the opposite. The music itself informs the listener, or what we refer to as the “traveler” in this method, and the human “Guide” assists the journey taking notes and offering verbal support throughout.
Music processing necessitates using both sides of the brain, allowing the portion that processes logic to partner simultaneously with the part that experiences feelings. In a therapeutic setting the brain is stimulated and can create new neural pathways that support behavior change.
The Bonny Method was created by Helen Bonny, Music Therapist, Psychologist, trail blazer. As one of the few women involved with the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Baltimore, MD in the early 1970s’ LSD “consciousness expanding” research trials as a music programmer, Bonny discovered, almost by accident, that the same types of “altered states” experiences could be had without the use of the drug. Instead, the magic potion involved very carefully chosen classical music programs designed to mimic the peaks and valleys of the journey with one important exception: the Travelers remember the experience and can participate in the aftermath of utilizing the insights gained during the process.
Indeed there is. Bonny did more than create and develop her special protocol; she also founded an association and developed training program criteria to ensure consistency, competency and further professional development. The association for Music & Imagery (AMI) is located in North Ridgeville, OH, and oversees training standards, research, and continuing education for the Bonny Method. Learn more about AMI here: http://ami-bonnymethod.org/
GIM sessions are typically 90 minutes in length. There are several steps to the process including discussion, music experiencing and imaging, and processing (which can involve Mandala drawing). For a more detailed explanation of each step see ANATOMY of a Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.
GIM is not hypnosis. Everyone experiences deep levels of relaxation in different ways, and to get the most out of this process we aim to induce a “Non-Ordinary” state of consciousness (also called NOS). For reference, sleeping can be considered an NOS state because of the change in brain wave patterns. Clients are conscious for the entire session, are asked to lie down during the session (but this is not required) and offered relaxation instruction to assist in facilitating the process. There is no right or wrong way to experience the music, or “travel.” You cannot do it wrong! Some people describe dream like visual imagery. Others just have a sense of what the music is bringing to them, memories, somatic responses in the body, and other variations.
The beauty of this method is that it’s not designed to be long term. Of course clients can choose to participate for as long as they want, or come back to GIM at a later time if new challenges arise or return. As an adjunct or alternative to traditional psychotherapy/talk therapy, GIM comes from a different and fresh perspective. H.O.P.E. recommends no fewer than six sessions to work on an issue, but as many as twenty may be typical.
H.O.P.E. Therapeutic Arts Wellness Studio does not accept insurance payments at this time. GIM sessions are $100. Payment is expected upon receipt of services rendered and is the responsibility of the individual client. Cash, check or credit cards are accepted payment methods. Sliding scales and pre-payment or session package discounts are available. Our goal is to be of service to anyone who needs this method of support.
GIM is appropriate for anyone who is experiencing a roadblock on the journey of life: transitions, grief, self-discovery, recovery from substance or food addiction, trauma, preparation for specific challenges, anhedonia, and much more. GIM works well in conjunction with other therapy approaches as an adjunct and enhancing process, or can be transformational on its own. If you’ve “tried it all” without desired results, GIM might just be the catalyst for change you’re looking for.
GIM is contraindicated for anyone with severe psychiatric diagnoses (such as Schizophrenia or Dissociative Identity Disorder) or anyone actively using recreational drugs and/or abusing alcohol.
AmyLynn Dimaano is a Board Certified Music Therapist, Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor, and is currently in the advanced level of training in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. AmyLynn has been practicing as a Board Certified Music Therapist since 2008 in the fields of Mental Health, Addiction, and Eating Disorders.
AmyLynn is not a Marriage and Family Therapist or a Doctor of any kind. AmyLynn will refer clients as needed to other professionals for anything outside of the scope of practice of Music Therapy.
Complimentary demonstration sessions are offered to licensed and professional clinicians. Please contact AmyLynn to schedule or for more information. We love referrals!