What is GIM?

Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) is a therapeutic process using music and a trained facilitator to create an environment in which one can experience personal insights that provide answers and guidance for important life issues.

Guided Imagery and Music:

  • is a guided experience designed to help people find their own answers about life goals, critical events, relationships, behavior patterns and health issues
  • brings people into an immediate experience of a problem or issue, enabling them to work through problems much faster than traditional counseling methods
  • is a process for integrating past experiences and future goals into direction for best next-step action and problem resolution in present situations
  • provides an opportunity for emotions to be recognized, released and then processed productively
  • is recognized as a psychotherapeutic method by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)

The method encourages:

  • honesty with oneself---the images one has in a GIM journey bypass mental thought-processes and are later integrated
  • commitment to change because the AHA! of insight and resulting problem resolution comes from the one's own perceptions
  • acceptance of the learning processes of life as one sees the "big picture" of life in GIM sessions
  • trust as the process teaches how to accept the unfolding of the healing process
  • conscious living---as one experiences the benefits of action based on personal reflection and understanding of oneself it is possible to live with more conscious awareness of actions and goals
  • creativity and intuition which develop through the process of finding positive results based upon ones' own insights

  Who benefits from GIM?

GIM has been used as a problem-solving method for a wide range of issues. It has been found to be useful for people seeking help with:

  • relationship problems
  • divorce-related issues
  • career changes
  • health problems
  • stress-related problems
  • anxiety
  • grief and loss
  • depression
  • addictions
  • sexual abuse
  • creativity blocks
  • goal-setting
  • clarity about life experiences

GIM is not recommended for people with serious mental disorders. It has the potential for uncovering deep emotional issues and unconscious material. This is not helpful for persons who are struggling to maintain balance and deal with the realities of everyday life.

  What happens in a GIM session?

In a GIM experience, one becomes a "traveler" in an inner journey with the GIM facilitator working as a guide to assist the process. Sessions generally last 1 to 1 hours.

Each session begins with a discussion of significant issues and concerns of the traveler. A focus or intention is agreed upon, and the guide chooses appropriate music for the session.

Once these preparations are complete, the traveler lies down and closes his or her eyes. The guide helps the traveler into a relaxed and focused state and then begins the music.

The Music Experience
The music evokes images, sensations, and feelings and the traveler and guide dialogue together about the unfolding "journey". The traveler spontaneously describes experiences stimulated by the music while the guide supports and encourages. The program of music selections usually lasts 30 - 40 minutes.

Closure and Integration
When the music ends, the guide helps the traveler gain closure and return to an alert state. The remainder of the session is spent reflecting on the traveler's images and experiences and, if appropriate, their relevance to life issues. Often, the art therapy technique of mandala drawing is used to bring the experience into greater clarity.

Private sessions are available with Chris Brewer.

  Music and Imagery as Insight Tools

The imagery in GIM is not directed from a script and does not come from the guide. The imagery unfolds from the person experiencing the session in a spontaneous manner, stimulated and carried by the music and by skilled guiding. This process works easily, without having to think about or plan the imagery.

The process energizes self-healing in the form of dream-like images that have great personal relevance. This phenomenon parallels the ability of the injured physical body to activate white blood cells and other functions to bring about physical healing. The mind and spirit also have an innate capacity for self-healing that is triggered by the music and the environment that is created.

GIM music is chosen from the great masterworks of composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Debussy, Vaughan Williams and many others. The selected music was researched by GIM founder, Dr. Helen Bonny and formulated into specific music programs. GIM facilitators are trained in the use of these programs and the methods necessary to create an optimal environment and assist travelers in their imagery journeys. Some of the Mid-Atlantic music programs use contemporary musicians such as Daniel Kobialka, Michael Hoppe, Tingstad and Rumbel, Paul Winter, Kostia, David Arkenstone and others.

The use of music and imagery in the focused, relaxed state created in GIM encourages unresolved issues to surface and helps to remove mental, emotional, and spiritual blocks to problem-solving. It also awakens new levels of creativity while encouraging a deep inner connection to what is most meaningful to the individual.

  History of Guided Imagery and Music

Helen L. Bonny, Ph.D., RMT, a music therapist, brought her special knowledge of the potential of music for helping people enter deep levels of consciousness to a research team in Baltimore exploring altered states of consciousness. She felt that music was the perfect vehicle for exploration of the mind because it could carry someone through the heights and depths of an experience. Eventually she developed a powerful yet safe therapeutic method for healing using music---the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. This method honors the ancient method of awakening inner vision to connect with meaning and conscious action.

For more information about the history of the Bonny Method of GIM, click here to visit the Bonny Foundation website.

  The Mid-Atlantic Institute

The Mid-Atlantic Institute was founded to provide training in the Guided Imagery and Music model. Founders of the Institute, Carol A. Bush MSW, LCSW and Sierra Stokes-Stearns Ph.D., MT-BC have been pioneers in the practice, development and application of GIM. The Institute now has many trainers teaching GIM. Visit the Mid-Atlantic Institute website.

  Training in Guided Imagery and Music

GIM training is useful in a wide variety of professional fields including:

  • private-practice therapy
  • school, organizational and pastoral counseling practices
  • nursing
  • Hospice
  • mind-body practices
  • music therapy
  • mental health organizations

Chris Boyd Brewer offers training in GIM. An introductory workshop entitled, Rhythms of Healing, is available in a one-day or 3-hour format. She also offers the three levels of certified GIM training. Chris' training and that offered by the Mid-Atlantic Institute and it's trainers are approved for all levels of training by the Association for Music and Imagery (AMI).

For more information on Chris' GIM training, see training descriptions.

To see a schedule of Chris' GIM training and link to other Mid-Atlantic training opportunities click here. To register for training contact us or call at 336-207-7505.

  Schedule a Private Session

Private sessions in Guided Imagery and Music are available through Chris and other GIM fellows. For more information on scheduling a private session, contact us with a request or call at 336-207-7505.


Hold the sea-shell to your ear
And you shall hear
Not the andante of the sea
Not the wild winds symphony
But your own heart's minstrelsy.

--Thomas Bailey Aldrich, author


You have to leave the city of your own comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself. --Alan Alda, actor


































The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude of mind. --William James












Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit. --Ludwig van Beethoven













Music gives access to the discovery of inner strength, uncovers the potential for creativity, and manifests ways in which life can be lived from a center of inner security. --Helen Bonny, GIM Founder
























What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters little compared to what lies within us. --William Morow