Music: The Aesthetic Elixir


  • Lisa Summer Anna Maria College



transpersonal, transcendence, aesthetics, classical music


Music therapy is seen as akin to the healthy re-enactment of the parent-child dyad in which the music stimulates “me and not-me” experiences (Winnicott).   Sympathetic music structures stimulate the “me” state, whereas the “not-me” state is stimulated through music that is unfamiliar, evocative, and contains significant tension.  The GIM process begins with a “me” experience and then moves beyond it, to the “not-me.”  Subsequently, the article describes how classical music in GIM creates a transpersonal experience through an altered states of consciousness and the transcendence of time.  Through this process the client’s boundaries are loosened, and the client becomes “one” with the music and its healthful structures. 

Author Biography

Lisa Summer, Anna Maria College

Lisa Summer, PhD, LMHC, MT-BC, FAMI, directs the undergraduate music therapy program and a graduate certificate program in GIM at Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts. Conducting GIM trainings and seminars throughout the world, from Scandinavia to Asia, she endeavors to assist music therapists develop more music-centered practices through the examination of the personal transference relationship with music. As Helen Bonny’s student at the Institute for Consciousness and Music in the 1970’s and the coordinator of her GIM Program at the Bonny Foundation from 1988-1997, Lisa edited Helen Bonny’s seminal publications and lectures, for Music and Consciousness: The Evolution of Guided Imagery and Music and recently wrote the Helen Lindquist Bonny dictionary entry for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Summer’s articles and book chapters chronicle her use of GIM and its adaptations in her music psychotherapy practice in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with adults with anxiety, mood, and addiction disorders. With her husband, opera composer Joseph Summer, Lisa authored the muckraking expose, Music: The New Age Elixir (a critique of New Age music healing practices; Prometheus Books). 




How to Cite

Summer, L. (2010). Music: The Aesthetic Elixir. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 10(3).