An Overview of Research in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music


  • Denise Elizabeth Grocke University of Melbourne



Bonny Method, Guided Imagery and Music, research


Parallel with the development of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), Helen Bonny was also involved in research studies at the Baltimore Psychiatric Research Centre.  This article follows the development of research studies in the Bonny Method of GIM

from the 1970s to the present day.  Some studies, particularly those focussing on medical conditions, utilize a quantitative framework in which measurement of variables is the cornerstone.  Other studies have focussed on a qualitative paradigm where the focus is on the experience of participants receiving the Bonny Method of GIM.  Further, many studies now use adaptations of the original form, either because the client group requires shorter programs, or different music, or because the therapist modifies GIM to provide a different experience to that of the individual 1.5+ hour session.  These adaptations are also addressed in this article.  Finally, researchers have explored the music used in the Bonny Method of GIM from different perspectives, either by analyzing the structure of the music, or measuring how the music effects imagery creation, or physiological measures of the body. What is evident from this overview of research is that many studies are done at Master’s and PhD level, or conducted by a team of researchers. There is great diversity in what has been researched to date, indicating that research will continue to be an important aspect of GIM practice.

Author Biography

Denise Elizabeth Grocke, University of Melbourne

Professor Denise Grocke PhD, RMT, MT-BC, FAMI is Head of Music Therapy, and Director of the National Music Therapy Research Unit (NaMTRU), at the School of Music (Parkville), University of Melbourne. She is co-author of Receptive Methods in Music Therapy (2007), and co-editor of The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (2002), and Music Medicine 3 (1999). She has numerous book chapters and articles in refereed journals on music therapy and Guided Imagery and Music. She was President of the World Federation of Music Therapy from 1999-2002 and served 3 terms as Chair of the Commission on Education and Training.   She was a co-founder of the Australian Music Therapy Association (1975). In 2008 she received a substantial ARC grant ($237,000) to explore the effect of group music therapy on quality of life of people with severe mental illness living in the community.




How to Cite

Grocke, D. E. (2010). An Overview of Research in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 10(3).