The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music
by Louise Cadrin
What is the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM)?
The BMGIM is a music-assisted, transformational therapy for emotional, psychological, physiological, and spiritual exploration and support. It involves focusing and listening to specifically selected music while in a deeply relaxed state, expressing the subsequent imagery that is elicited, with a Bonny Method facilitator as guide, and then integrating the images and personal/transpersonal insights into one’s life.
What are the benefits of BMGIM?
The BMGIM can help one to gain new perspectives on life issues such as grief and loss, resolution of past experiences, negative thinking, stress, trauma, transitions in life, and health and relationship issues. It can heighten a sense of transcendent awareness, assist in reclaiming a sense of identity and self, and support the exploration of deeper issues and emotions related to illness. It can assist in the search to find meaning and purpose which can lead to imagery of an archetypal nature, can augment religious or spiritual beliefs, and can awaken creativity and assist with creativity blocks.
What happens in a BMGIM session?
Sessions are 60–90 minutes in length. The initial session includes an assessment/intake to determine expectations of the therapy, personal history, and goals and intentions for the work, followed by a shorter music-listening experience. Subsequent sessions then include a shorter pre-session discussion to determine the goals for the session, 35–45 minutes of music listening, post-session discussion and a mandala drawing.
During the music listening portion, one can recline on a massage table or in a reclining chair. Relaxation and focusing techniques are provided by the facilitator to assist in drawing one’s attention inward in order to interact as fully as possible with the music.
The facilitator then selects a music program comprised of specially arranged classical music that becomes the catalyst for eliciting images and exploring one’s imagination and deeper consciousness. The listener is encouraged to notice whatever comes into his/her conscious awareness while the music is playing, and to speak it out loud. All comments are written down by the facilitator. At the completion of the music program, time is spent integrating the images and insights through discussion and a mandala drawing. A written transcript of the images is also provided.
What is the role of the music in BMIGM?
The BMGIM uses Western classical music which acts as a catalyst for a variety of imagery responses and a dependable structure for therapy and self-exploration. When listened to in a relaxed state, the music can attract and focus attention, further relaxation, promote change, allow for insights, and act as a pathway to spiritual, symbolic, or archetypal realms.
Within the session, the facilitator chooses a music program that closely matches the needs and goals identified in the pre-session discussion. The choice is based on one’s physical and emotional state, ability to image to the music, therapeutic readiness, and goals. (Association for Music and Imagery, 2009)
What is meant by “imagery” and what can one expect to experience as one listens to the music?
The responses one will experience while listening to the music are called “imagery,” and may include physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, visual images, inspirations, memories, intuitions, and spiritual and transcendent awarenesses. Imagery is spontaneous and adaptable, as it is evoked by the music and one’s psyche. During the music, the facilitator will encourage the listener to be curious, to explore, and to interact with the imagery. (Association for Music and Imagery, 2009)
Does one have to be musical to benefit from BMIGM?
Previous musical experience does not factor into your ability to engage with this method.
Louise offers Bonny Method sessions at Mecca Massage and Wellness Centre, 2278 Rose Street, Regina, (306) 591-7105, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. She also offers sessions at Professional Psychologists and Counsellors (PPC), 118 College Drive, Saskatoon (toll-free: 1-888-425-7721) on Fridays. Home visits in Regina and Saskatoon may also be available by calling (306) 450-0033.
Louise Cadrin, BA, BMT, MTA, FAMI, acquired her Music Therapy degree in 2002, followed by her training as a Facilitator of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music in 2004. She has experience working with individuals of all ages, from adults and children/youth involved with cancer care, palliative care, and geriatric care, to children/youth with autism and developmental delays. From 2002, she worked full-time for eleven years with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Regina Palliative Care Program, Pasqua Hospital initially as a music therapist, and then as the director. During this time she became a published author, profiling her work with music therapy and end-of-life care. From 2007 to 2009 she was the President of the Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT). She is also an international presenter, having presented in North and South America, Australia, and England on topics related to palliative care and music therapy, cancer care and music therapy, and the Canadian Association for Music Therapy. She has been published in the Journal of the Association for Music and Imagery (2005/2006) for her work using The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music in end-of-life care. For more information, see the Directory of Services ad on page 24 and also see the Calendar of Events workshop ad for July 19 of the 20.2 July/August issue of the WHOLifE Journal.