The Evolution of GIM Programming

By Tony Meadows

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The music listening experience is at the core of The Bonny Method of GIM (BMGIM) (Bonny, 2002; Bruscia & Grocke, 2002). Building upon her own relationship with music (see Bonny, 2002 pp. 3-18), Bonny developed a therapeutic approach to music listening that reaches deeply into the human psyche, evoking visual, auditory and kinesthetic sensations, feelings, images, memories, and metaphoric fantasies that touch upon intra-, inter- and transpersonal phenomenon. Through her clinical experiences at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC), Bonny began to structure music listening experiences that developed into "taped programs" used to facilitate the therapeutic process that later became known as GIM (or Bonny Method).

This article traces the origins and evolution of the music programs that have become synonymous with the Bonny Method. In their original form, these "tapes" consisted of seven programs of western classical art music that served different therapeutic goals or potentials (Bonny, 2002 pp. 322-324). As Bonny began training clinicians to practice GIM, additional programs were developed and integrated into GIM clinical practice, including those of Bruscia, Clark, Keiser Mardis, Skaggs, and others (see Bruscia & Grocke, 2002 pp. 555-591).

Additionally, as GIM practice developed, clinicians began to incorporate variations of the programmed music listening experience into their work with clients. In one variation, an improvisational approach to music selection is taken (see Ventre, 1994; Summer, 2010), in which the therapist selects music for the client's imagery experience in-vivo, shaping the contour of the music according to the overall therapeutic goals of the session, and moment to moment experiences of the client. Additional variations in the method involve adapting the components of the BMGIM session to meet the needs of clients or patients for whom the full programmed music listening experience is not therapeutically indicated (e.g. patients undergoing chemotherapy). Specific examples include the work of Summer (in press) and Korlin (2007-2008).

Formative Encounters with Music Listening

Bonny's experiences at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC) were fundamental to developing the early music programs used in GIM. Invited in 1969 as a researcher to examine the benefits of music listening during therapeutic LSD experiences (also termed psychedelic psychotherapy), Bonny began to experiment with ways in which music listening could be used during the 10-12 hours of the LSD session. In so doing, she developed as initial understanding of the therapeutic benefits of music as follows:

  1. Music helps the patient relinquish usual controls and enter more fully into his/her inner world of experience
  2. Music facilitates the release of intense emotionality
  3. Music contributes toward peak experiences
  4. Music provides continuity in the experience of timelessness
  5. Music directs and structures the therapeutic experience (Bonny, 2002 p. 22)

Bonny linked this foundational understanding to the various phases of the LSD session. In the initial pre-onset phase (0 to ˝ hour), light, popular music, often chosen by the patient, was used. Examples included Peter, Paul and Mary singing Hurry Sundown or For Baby, or the Moody Blues' Love is All Around. In phase 2 (onset: ½ to 1 ½ hours), the drug action can be quite exciting, so the atmosphere in the therapy room should encourage relaxation and calm. Bonny suggested music with "a quiet but positive and reassuring mood [and a] good melodic line and regular rhythm" (2002 p. 33) such as Vivaldi's Concerto in D for Guitar or Vaughn Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves. In phase 3 (building toward peak intensity: 1 ½ to 3 ½ hours) the drug builds towards peak intensity, and the overwhelming nature of the drug experience can lead to resistance, fear and an eagerness to escape the deepening effects of the drug. Here the therapist uses the music to draw the patient into the swiftly expanding experience and enables him/her to yield completely into his/her emotions. Examples of music used at this phase of the session include Brahm's German Requiem, and Smetana's Moldau. The intensity of this music is balanced at regular intervals with music that is supportive and reassuring in nature: Elgar's Enigma Variations, Mozart's Laudate Dominum, Schubert's Ave Maria, and selections from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In phase 4 (peak intensity of drug action: (3 – 4 ½ hours), the drug peaks in intensity, and it is in this time period that the greatest transformative moments can occur. As Bonny describes it, the music was used in two different kinds of ways. When the patient experienced blocks in emotion, or was unable to release feelings, then strong music was used to facilitate this release. Bonny gave Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and "winter" from Vivaldi's' Four Seasons as examples. When the patient was moving toward a peak experience, the music facilitated and supported this process. Music examples include Gounod's St. Celia Mass, Faure's Requiem, Barber's Adagio for Strings, and Strauss's "Transfiguration" from Death and Transfiguration. In phase 5 (re-entry: 4 ½ - 7 hours), the patient transitions from the peak experience back toward a normal state of consciousness. The music used during this time period reflected the nature of the peak moment. If this was positive, then exultant feelings remained and were mirrored in the music: Brahm's Violin Concerto, the "Prelude to Act 1" of Wagner's Lohengrin, and the "Adagio" movement from Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony. In instances where the patient has not experienced a psychedelic peak, "lighter" selections may be indicated, including Copland's Appalachian Spring and Villa-Lobos' Fifth Bachianas Brasilieras. In phase 6 (return to normal consciousness: 7 – 12 hours), music of the patient's choice was played as the patient became re-oriented to their environment. Meaningful music from the session experience may be replayed to reinforce peak and/or positive experiences.

The Development of Music Programs

Bonny's experiences in psychedelic psychotherapy at Maryland Psychiatric Research Institute (MPRC) were instrumental in developing her understanding of how to formulate the music listening experience for what later became known as the Bonny Method (at the time she referred to this work at GIM or Guided Imagery and Music). Using the same six-element session contour, she began experimenting with ways of using music listening to simulate the LSD induced altered state. Bonny took an intuitive approach to formulating these music selections (Bonny, 2002 p. 302), sequencing them according to a specific therapeutic contour that met goals she had in mind when developing the program.

Notice that the term program is used. This denotes an important dimension of the GIM experience. Bonny began to sequence music selections together to form a programmed music listening experience. While experimenting with rock, jazz and folk music, she settled on classical western art music (mainly from the eighteenth to the twentieth century) as the experience through which clients could explore inner phenomenon. This was based primarily on her experiences in psychedelic psychotherapy, and subsequent experiments with volunteers interested in exploring consciousness without the effects of drugs. Initially, Bonny developed seven such programs, later expanding them to twelve (Bonny, 2002 pp. 300-324). Each of these seven will now be briefly described:

  1. Group Experience was expressly designed as a diagnostic tool to mirror a procedure called Guided Affect Imagery (GAI) (Leuner, 1978). Bonny developed a sequence of six pieces that mirrored six images Leuner developed that he found were predictive of phenomenon later dealt with in verbal psychotherapy. Meadows (2002) provides a summary of GAI and its relationship with the Bonny Method.
  2. Imagery encourages visual and other sensory responses in the creative imagination. "It is useful in initial group sessions andÂ… for general exploration of the inner personality" (Bonny, 2002 p. 318). The compositions are taken from the impressionistic school, and are intended to paint a picture or represent a specific theme.
  3. Comforting-Anaclytic was developed to provide a sense of "warmth, comfort and nurturance. Since GIM often leads one back spontaneously in a regression to important early childhood experiences, this program features resonant cello sounds, as well as male and female solo voices, which tend to foster return-to-childhood feelings" (Bonny, 2002 p. 315).
  4. Positive Affect was one of Bonny's first GIM programs, developed to mirror the six-stage experience of the LSD session. The program was so titled because "the music selections created a dynamic experience which most frequently had a positive emotional valence" (Bonny, 2002 p. 310).
  5. Affect-Release "is for a specific use only: in a group workshop situation when tension and acting-out behavior are present, or in individual sessions when strong feelings of grief, fear, anger or impotence occur" (Bonny, 2002 p. 317). Bonny further suggests that when clients "have reached a satisfactory release of feelings, the [program] should immediately be changed to Comforting-Anaclytic and/or Positive Affect (Bonny, 2002 p. 317).
  6. Death-Rebirth was developed out of "the phenomenology spontaneously aroused during many GIM experiences" (Bonny, 2002 p. 311). Bonny observed how clients would visualize themselves or a loved one "at a funeral service, in a coffin, or at a grave site, moving through feelings of grief, guilt and fear" (Bonny, 2002 p. 311). In guiding the client through these experiences, Bonny observed that a rebirth followed, in which the death experience transformed some dimension of the client's imagery into something new or renewed.
  7. Peak Experience "continues the rebirth mood" (Bonny, 2002 p. 313) evoked in Death-Rebirth, leading the client into something ‘other worldly' or transpersonal. This seems to reflect Bonny's experiences of music as evoking peak, transformative moments, in which the client is able to transcend or overcome impediments to his/her life, also reflected in her work supporting LSD sessions.

As suggested by their titles, and Bonny's intent in their design, these programs evoke different kinds of therapeutic experiences, creating varied challenges and therapeutic potentials for the client. For example, in her analysis of Positive Affect, Bonny demonstrates how the program reflects the six stages of the LSD session, building into a peak or plateau experience, followed by a return to normal consciousness. Figure 1 provides a representation of this contour over the five pieces that form this program.

Affective Contour of Positive Affect
Figure 1. Affective Contour of Positive Affect (Bonny, 2002 p. 312) © Barcelona Publishers. Republished with permission.

The pre-onset phase begins with two variations from Elgar's Enigma Variations, which have a moderate tempo and melody and harmonic lines that give a sense of movement, but with no significant changes in volume or dynamics. Mozart's "Laudate dominum" from Vesperae Solemnes de Confessore, expresses a "spiritual, lofty, tender, serene [and] tranquil" mood (Bonny, 2002 p. 310) that reflects the "onset" experience, weaving a beautiful melodic line with instrumental and vocal accompaniment. For stage 3, "building to peak" Bonny selected Barber's Adagio for Strings, which builds through "crescendos and diminuendos, heights and depths, anguish and fulfillment, evoking a wide range of emotional experiences in a short time" (Bonny, 2002 p. 310). The Adagio evokes a myriad of feelings, often expressed in "a catharsis-type experience, in which the flood gates of feeling are opened and exposed" (Bonny, 2002 p. 310). In stage 4, "peak", Bonny moves into a short "Offertory" from Gounod's St Cecelia's Mass, that provides a plateau through which the stabilize the feeling tone before moving the client into the powerful "Sanctus" movement that follows. Bonny suggests that this is "probably one of the most intensely religious vocal pieces in Western musicÂ… providing an ideal stimulator for peak and oceanic experiences" (Bonny, 2002 p. 310). Stages 5 and 6, "stabilization" and "return", and accomplished through Strauss's "Transfiguration" from Death and Transfiguration. "Beginning with quiet dynamics, it quickly reaches majestic and lofty heights and then returns the listener to a quiet, restful ending" (Bonny, 2002 p. 311).

Table 1. Pitch Continuum (Bonny, 2002, p. 302). © Barcelona Publishers. Republished with permission.
Prelude to Lohengrin, WagnerBachianas Brasileiras #5, Villa-LobosDeep River (spiritual)Le Sacre du Printemps, Stravinsky
High Middle Low

While often sequenced intuitively, Bonny also began to analyze her music selections according to musical dimensions, in order to more fully understand the relationships between each of the pieces selected for a program, and to help her design additional programs. She describes these qualities, "which act dynamically within a selection and contribute to the listener's affective response", as inner morphology (Bonny, 2002 p. 301). Based upon her experiences, she identified five musical dimensions that had the greatest impact on the client's listening experience, and by implication, the design of programs: 1) pitch, 2) rhythm and tempo, 3) vocal and/or instrumental mode, 4) melody (linear line) and harmony, and 5) timbre (color) (Bonny, 2002). Using pitch as an example, Bonny developed a line of continuity from the highest notes to the lowest, demonstrated in Table 1. She attributed meaning to these pitch levels, based upon associations with Western culture's value systems. "High means ‘going up' or to ‘be up'; up in the social system, to be "on top of things," to feel good, to be ‘on top of the ladder'; in the Biblical sense, to be ‘high and lifted up'" (Bonny, 2002 p. 303). Bonny continues by making specific associations with these musical qualities:

The vocal high pitch is made by women's voices and thus brings to mind associations related to women, and to qualities of and thus experiences of women. The use of women's voices singing high pitches in religious liturgical music will most generally signify the "high" religious state, which for Westerners may mean a transcendent experience.
Low pitches, likewise, can signify culturally agreed-upon meanings. Low, as a direction, is often associated with the ground, or below ground. As the opposite of high, it can mean death, sadness, heaviness, or something lowly. When low notes are sung or played with appropriate timbre, very positive feelings of warmth, security, and support may be evoked. Emotionally, low notes can sometimes give a feeling of basic worth and security; musically, they can provide a sense of balance and structure in the tonal scheme (Bonny, 2002, p. 303).

Bonny, then, appears to take a musical approach to program development, "focusing primarily on the music itself, and [its] metaphorical implications for GIM work" (Abrams, 2002 p. 317). Further, through the structure of each piece, and the relationships between pieces, clients are engaged in a musical experience that allows them to work though problems encountered in their lives. These can be problems in relationships, in emotional expression, in uncovering hidden or latent material, and/or in working through specific problems such as depression or trauma.

Music Programming Expands

As Bonny refined the techniques developed during her time at the MPRC, she melded the various dimensions of these experiences into the GIM session – a preliminary discussion, focused relaxation, music-imagery experience, and return. In the early 1970s she established the Institute for Consciousness and Music to advance GIM through workshops and trainings, to distribute her music programs to interested parties, and to promote GIM in general.

According to Bruscia (2002), by this time 17 taped programs were available, distributed over the three levels of training required for GIM practice (Fellow status). Thirteen of these programs were developed by Bonny and four by Linda Keiser Mardis, who had by this time trained with Bonny:

  1. Level 1 programs were used in the early stages of work by beginning guides: Group Experience, Imagery, Quiet Music, Nurturing, Relationships, and Creativity I (Keiser Mardis)
  2. Level 2 programs were considered more intense working programs, appropriate for more experienced clients, and guides with more training: Comforting/Anaclytic, Positive Affect, Transitions, Grieving (Keiser Mardis), Emotional Expression I, Mostly Bach, and Peak Experience
  3. Level 3 programs were considered advanced and specialized for both client and guide: Affect Release, Death-Rebirth, Expanded Awareness (Keiser Mardis), and Creativity II (Keiser Mardis) (Bruscia, 2002 pp. 308-309)

Grocke (2002), citing Bonny (no date), was further able to categorize these according to their function within the GIM series. A brief description of the purpose of each of these programs is provided by Grocke (2002 pp. 89-91):

  • Basic/Beginner: Quiet Music, Peak Experience, Imagery, Nurturing, Comforting/Anaclytic, and Group Experience
  • Sustaining Effect: Affect Release, Expanded Awareness, Death/Rebirth, Nurturing, and Grieving
  • Working: Comforting/Anaclytic, Group Experience, Relationships, Positive Affect, Grieving, Emotional Expression I, Mostly Bach, Transitions, Death/Rebirth, Conversations, and Serenity
  • Exploration: Group Experience, Cosmic/Astral, Transitions, Death/Rebirth, and Creativity I
  • Advanced Work: Body Program, Inner Odyssey, and Emotional Expression II

Thus, two important dimensions of programming are revealed through the process of program identification and functional allocation. The first dimension revealed suggests the diversity of client experiences possible in the GIM process, while the second suggests the depth potential of the programs. As one might expect in a therapeutic process such as GIM, clients begin by engaging in the music-imagery process (basic/beginner; exploration) then deepen into sustained and focused work (sustaining effect; working), perhaps even moving into advanced work (advanced work) before completing therapy. Thus, GIM therapy evokes a therapeutic contour that is expressed in the ways the client's problems are evoked, engaged and worked through, along with program choices that empathize with, evoke, challenge, release, resolve, and otherwise work through these problems.

The Bonny Programs

Although music programs were updated, and additional programs informally shared among GIM practitioners, it was not until the late 1980s that Bonny faced the task of remastering and adding additional programs to those available at the time. According to Bruscia (2002), this was driven by a practical need. Until this point, GIM programs were only available as cassette tapes, which lost quality with repeated use. With the advent of digital recording methods, and then CDs, Bonny transferred all the original programs to metal tapes, which became known as the "Bonnytapes © 1989" (Bruscia, 2002). At this time, she added three new programs of her own: the Body Tape, Inner Odyssey, and Emotional Expression II. According to Bruscia (2002), three additional programs were added to this composite, consisting of Creative Listening I (originally developed by Lou Savary), Hero's Journey (Lisa Summer), and Conversations (Ruth Skaggs).

In 1994 Bonny met with Linda Keiser Mardis to again review the music listening programs in light of the various dilemmas facing the GIM community. As described by Bruscia (2002), these included issues such as copyright concerns, the availability of specific recordings recommended for programs, and the ways in which programs were distributed. As a result, Bonny and Keiser Mardis developed the concept that there were twelve "core" programs:

Our feeling is that if a student of GIM comes through three levels of training with a thorough knowledge of these programs, their uses, their musical intricacies, their guiding possibility, etc., and with the experience of many personal sessions of these programs, then s/he will be very able to conduct sessions with a full range of affective and therapeutic potential. We also feel that the purchases of recordings necessary for the 12 programs can be handled reasonably by a student during the length of the three levels of training: and that the time spent in the preparation of the actual tapes will prove very meaningful in the student's relationship with the music and also the machinery necessary in the practice of GIM (Bonny & Keiser Mardis, 1994 p. 1, cited in Bruscia, 2002).

The twelve programs selected by Bonny and Keiser Mardis were: Explorations (Group Experience), Imagery, Emotional Expression 1, Quiet Music, Mostly Bach, Peak Experience, Transitions, Positive Affect (all developed by Bonny), Creativity I, Grieving (developed by Kaiser Mardis), and two new programs, Recollections, and Caring (developed by Bonny and Kaiser Mardis). These were presented in a discography, with specific music recommendations and uses (Bonny & Kaiser Mardis, 1994).

Music for the Imagination

Addressing additional concerns around copyright, access, and availability, Bruscia entered into negotiations with Naxos of America to produce a series of CDs that contained a broad range of GIM programs, using music from Naxos' classical library. The advantages were myriad. In developing this ten CD collection, called Music for the Imagination (Bruscia, 19996a), Bruscia was able to gather together the music for 25 GIM programs, making the process of finding the music most commonly used in GIM training and therapy both economical and convenient (Burning music to CD was not common, and quite expensive, at the time, and infringed copyright law). This CD collection contains some original programs, some programs with substituted pieces (substituted in consultation with Helen Bonny), as well as new programs developed by Bruscia. Although much discussion has ensued around the quality of the recordings and the impact of substitutions on the listening experience, Bruscia has made a significant contribution toGIM practice by encouraging practitioners to use CDs rather than cassette tapes, and through his consolidation of original, modified, and new programs. Aside from maintaining the quality of the program itself, CDs allowed the user to quickly find a specific piece within a program, move fluidly between pieces that are not in sequence, and change programs while maintaining the tempo of the session.

The programs included in Music for the Imagination are Explorations, Imagery, Creativity I-II, Relationships, Caring, Nurturing, Positive Affect, Emotional Expression, Grieving, Peak Experience, Transitions, Death/Rebirth, Affect Release, Inner Odyssey, Body Tape, Solace, Mournful, Consoling, Pastorale, and Searching.

Levels of Programming

Based upon Bruscia's (1996b; 2002) conceptualization of Music for the Imagination, and the ways in which the programs from this series have been used in training and therapy, he articulated three levels of programming that reflect a developing conceptualization of how the programs can be used, adapted and applied clinically:

  1. At the basic level, the therapist a) chooses whether to use an original or modified program faithfully, without making any modifications to it; b) selects between two options already provided within a pre-designed program; c) switches from one program to another as dictated by the client's needs; and d) adds additional "tag" pieces that have already been suggested for each program.
  2. At an intermediate level, the therapist a) extemporaneously selects options within a pre-designed paradigm or program theme; and b) extemporaneously sequences previously designed parts of different programs. The main condition at this level is that musical selections have already been made, options and sequences already exist, and the guide is merely selecting and sequencing the music in new ways. Decisions at this level can be found in Music for the Imagination, where some of the CDs provide multiple options for programs and music sequences.
  3. At the advanced level, the guide selects new music, designs new sequences or options within a program, creates new programs, designs special programs for clients prior to the session, and extemporaneously programs music while guiding the client.

When conceptualized this way, program selection can be seen as a process that requires differing levels of knowledge and skills (Bruscia, 2002). This knowledge and skill is acquired experientially, through repeated listening and imaging to the program(s) along with a parallel deepening in the trainee/therapists understanding of the role(s) of the music listening experience within the GIM session. As such, this implies a parallel deepening in understanding the various ways the client's therapeutic process can be interpreted (e.g. psychodynamically, transpersonally, etc.) and the implications this has for the therapist in selecting the music, guiding the client, and managing the process as a whole.

Further Developments in Programs and Programming

As GIM has continued to develop and grow, there has been increased interest in designing programs that expand the music listening potentials of Bonny's original programs. As Bruscia (2002) describes, there were myriad reasons for this. First, new programs had arisen out of the expansion of the method. As clinicians worked with "new" populations, addressing expanded therapeutic goals while doing so, new programs were developed for these purposes. Second, as the number of GIM Fellows increased, so has the potential for the development of new programs, as seen through the differing perspectives of the trainee/therapist. Third, as new music has become commercially available, so has the potential to design programs that incorporate these new listening experiences (e.g. Goreczki, Symphony No. 3). Bonde (2009) has created an archive of programs currently used by GIM practitioners. These include over 100 programs, representing diverse themes and therapeutic experiences. Examples of specific programs and programmers follows:

  • Booth: Affirming the Path: Heroic Journeys, Bereft, Dolorosa, Lovers, Opening Out, Opening Out, Paradise, Realm of Water, Tendresse, Totally Brahms, Yearning and Passion
  • Borling: Melancholy, Deep Soul
  • Bruscia: Childhood Experience, Consoling, Elegy, Faith, Gaia, Heroine's Journey, Lamentations, Mournful, Nostalgia, Past Lives, Pastorale, Searching, Solace, Soliloquy for Men, Sublime I, Sublime II, Warrior/King (in addition to Music for the Imagination)
  • Clark: Mythic Journey One: The Hero's Journey, Mythic Journey Two: Persephone
  • Grocke: The Magical Inner Child Program, The Adventurous Inner Child Program
  • Keiser Mardis: Changing Patterns, Creativity I, Creativity II, Creativity III, Expanded Awareness, Grieving, Mythic/Mystic, Program 33, Program 34, Program 35
  • Short: Reconciliation
  • Skaggs: All Bach, Centering, Conversations, Catharsis, The Crucible, The Gathering, Grief, Loss, Loneliness, Emotionally Evocative, Life Rhythms, Sanctuary, Serene Sketches, Soul Journey, Twentieth Century Psyche, Vital Force
  • Stearns: Abandonment to Bonding, Reflections, Paradox (Contemporary), Transcendence, For Addictions, Loss, Sorrow, Twentieth Century Psyche
  • Summer and Summer: Hero's Journey

Abrams (2002) examined these developments in programming through the lens of program analysis. In doing so, he identified three principle categories of analysis: musical approaches, phenomenological approaches, and heuristic approaches. Abrams further posits that these approaches are related in a nested manner. "That is, in the order presentedÂ… each successive category includes the basic properties of the previous one(s), yet adds a layer of properties that distinguishes the new category" (2002 p. 317). When the approach is primarily musical, programmers are "focused primarily upon properties of the music itself, and their metaphorical implications for BMGIM work. This includes the analyzer's own qualitative impressions of the music heard in recordings of music selections as well as the analyzer's identification of elements and structures evident both in recordings and in the printed scores of the music (Abrams, 2002 pp. 317-318). Examples of musical approaches to program development and analysis include those of Bonny, Skaggs and Summer. Phenomenological approaches of analysis "are based upon how actual [clients] have responded to the music experientially, generally in the form of imagery" (Abrams, 2002 p. 322). This approach is also musical in that is considers the ways in which the music provides a temporal framework for organizing the client's imagery and for how music and imagery are connected. Kasayka and Grocke take this approach to program design and analysis. Heuristic approaches use "the analyzer's own experiences of programsÂ… as [the] primary guiding factor in understanding the program" (Abrams, 2002 p. 327). These approaches are heuristic in that the programmer acquires knowledge of the program under the same conditions as the client would (as imager), but is also phenomenological in that the programmer considers these experiences "in actual, lived time" (Abrams, 2002 p. 327) and musical in that they inherently involve some implicit or explicit consideration of the structural elements of the musical sequence. Examples of this approach include the programming methods of Bonny, Bruscia and Booth.

In addition to these developments in programming, variations in the ways music is incorporated into sessions have been undertaken by Ventre (1994) and Summer (2009), who extemporaneously select and sequence music during the actual GIM session according to their understanding of their clients (consistent with Bruscia's definition of advanced level programming). Ventre and Summer vary in the way they do this. Ventre uses existing programs along with extemporaneous programming, based upon her perceptions of her client's needs, readiness for a specific program, and desired therapeutic experience. An example of this approach can be found in Ventre's work with Crystal, wherein she used programs along with in-vivo music selection and sequencing, while maintaining the basic structure of the GIM session. Summer (2009) takes a different approach. She utilizes selections of music from the original GIM programs and Music for the Imagination, along with additional repertoire as a ‘pool' of music. Using this pool, she makes an original program for each client's GIM session either by pre-designing the program (linking selections together) before the induction, or by spontaneously linking the selections together while the client is imaging.

It is important to mention that it is common practice for GIM Fellows to modify music programs in GIM sessions (Muller, 2010). Summer (in press), Meadows (2006), and Korlin (2007-2008) are three examples of practitioners who utilize modifications to programming. Summer (2010) identified three levels of music and imagery that reflect the ability and readiness of her clients to enter into therapeutic work. The supportive level addresses the development of positive internal resources, the re-educative level directly addresses the client's specific symptoms, and the reconstructive level goes to the root of the resources and symptoms within the unconscious (Summer, 2002). In developing these three levels, Summer also adapted the structure of the GIM session, varying the verbal prelude, relaxation and induction, length of music listening experience, the nature of the imagery work undertaken by the client, and the way(s) in which the imagery experience is processed. As such, Summer uses the form of the Bonny Method as a foundation, but adapts the therapeutic dimensions to meet the needs of her clients. In terms of music programming, Summer may only use one or two musical selections during a session (especially at the supportive level), and may repeat a piece to address a specific therapeutic intent. An example of this approach can be found in her work with Kyle, wherein the supportive and re-educative levels of music and imagery were incorporated into his therapy (Summer, in press). Based upon this three-level approach, Meadows (2006) adapted The Bonny Method to address the diverse needs of cancer patients during and after treatment for chemotherapy. In his adaptation, symptoms (supportive level), immediate problems (re-educative) and underlying issues (reconstructive) are addressed through adaptations of the method, including the use of "new age" (e.g. Kobialka) and western art music.

In developing Music Breathing, Korlin (2007-2008) adapted the Bonny Method to address complex posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociation, and other trauma related disorders with clients who may not be suitable for The Bonny Method experience. In doing so, he developed a four-stage intervention: silent grounding, music breathing for grounding, music breathing for dissociation, and music breathing for integration. In these sessions, between one and five pieces of music are used, depending on the treatment stage and aptitude of the client. In the music-grounding phase, one of the grounding pieces is used. The lullaby, designed to mobilize the recuperative functions of the body, is a prototype for music at this stage. "When the patient reaches the modulating stage, three pieces are used, one grounding, one modulating, and one landing. In the working stage, five pieces are used, from the grounding, modulating, working and landing categories. The client is encouraged to choose suitable music from an initial repertoire of three CDs, Breathing I, Breathing II, and Summer. The first two are also possible to use in their entirety as BMGIM programs, since they have a suitable profile" (Korlin, 2007-2008 p. 94). As such, Korlin has taken the template of the Bonny Method and adapted it to a specific population, modifying the music listening experience accordingly.


Through her experiences at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, and subsequent experimentation with focused music listening, Bonny developed Guided Imagery and Music (also called the Bonny Method) as a model of music therapy centered on facilitating the exploration of consciousness for therapeutic purposes. In so doing, Bonny developed music listening programs, sequences of five to eight classical music selections that last 25-50 minutes, to address a wide range of therapeutic potentials.

After Bonny developed her initial seven programs, she expanded these to 12, and then with Keiser Mardis to 20 distinct programmed listening experiences. As therapists completed GIM training, and new client groups were introduced to the Bonny Method, programming developed even further so that over 100 programs are currently available for BMGIM practitioners (see Bonde, n.d.). Of special significance was the introduction of Music for the Imagination (Bruscia, 1996a) and subsequent adaptations of the music listening experience for clients for whom the full Bonny Method experience may not be suitable (Korlin, 2007-2008; Summer, in press; Ventre, 1994). Such developments in programming suggest the diversity, complexity, and depth potential of the Bonny Method, and our ever-deepening understanding of music listening as a core therapeutic experience.


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