Wilderness Imagery in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM): A Phenomenological Perspective

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Timothy J. Honig (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Cathy McKinney

Abstract: The author employed phenomenological methodology to examine clients’ experiences of wilderness imagery in music psychotherapy sessions utilizing the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM). GIM is a music-centered approach to psychotherapy in which the client engages with spontaneously generated imagery while listening to specially selected programs of music from the Western classical canon. The resultant imagery provides the basis for therapeutic experiences. Client experiences at times include imagery of wilderness. Due to the conflicting and at times contradictory ways of defining wilderness, the author utilized a broad definition: that which is primarily nonhuman. Three individuals with whom the researcher had conducted at least four GIM sessions prior to the study participated. Each participant engaged in a semi-structured interview focused on their experiences of wilderness imagery in one session of their choosing. Twelve themes emerged from these interviews: The experiences involved extraordinary interactions with wilderness images, and events felt both unexpected and predetermined. The degree of agency felt in choice-events was important to their experiences. Wilderness imagery provided both support and challenges for the participants. There was a sense of openness and expansiveness, as well as continuity of affect, associations, feelings, or images through shifting settings or images. Each participant became wilderness images, yet there was a sense of separateness. Wilderness was accompanied by energy sensations, and wilderness contained that which they needed. Wilderness images were experienced as analogs to waking life. Finally, the full meaning of these experiences continued to emerge over time. These themes illustrated complementarity in the participants’ experiences of wilderness imagery. This way of understanding incongruent or opposing qualities, experiences, or beliefs provides a more integrative alternative to the idea of paradox in therapy. Additionally, their experiences pointed to an alternative organizational system in wilderness that tended to be nonlinear and unpredictable.

Additional Information

Honig, T.J. (2014). Wilderness Imagery in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM): A Phenomenological Perspective. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2014
Wilderness, Guided Imagery and Music, Music Therapy, Phenomenology

Email this document to