Music & Imagery

Published by Sara Chigani on: Apr 08, 2020 — Music Therapy

As we all make adjustments to how we conduct music therapy sessions, we’re also adjusting what interventions we use and how we use them. This can be a really challenging time for kids in that they just don’t know how they feel right now and how to verbalize it.

In addition to doing clinical and content work here at KidLinks, I am also training to become a Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) fellow. If you’re unfamiliar with GIM, long story short, it is a way of using prerecorded and predetermined playlists of music to address underlying psychological matters. If you’re curious and would like to learn a little bit more, please feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to answer any questions! Anyways, a fragment of GIM is using music to invoke imagery, which can also be done on a much smaller scale. Doing so, we call music and imagery.

The basic overview of music and imagery involves the therapist playing 1 or 2 short pieces of music while the client draws (whatever it is they feel inclined to draw) while the music is playing. This by no means is a replacement for GIM, but it is a great adaptive to use with clients whom a traditional GIM session would be inappropriate.

When choosing if music and imagery is appropriate for your client(s), remember that music and imagery typically provides a “small container” allowing clients a safe and contained space to explore. Clients usually have their eyes open the entire time and are focused on the “here and now”, listening to music with a creative outlet (drawing). You can also start with a very quick relaxation introduction to allow the client to become settled in their spot and focus on the task at hand. Once they feel relaxed, the therapist starts the music allowing the client to draw when they feel ready. After the client is finished drawing, the therapist and client can then briefly go over the drawing and anything the client experienced during that time.

One thing when choosing music, it’s best to choose very simple, repetitive, “small container” music as it provides comfort and allows the client to feel grounded. I also choose music that does not have any lyrics because sometimes lyrics can be suggestive and subconsciously interfere with the client’s point of view.

Music and imagery would be a great intervention to use during this time as it gives clients (especially kids) an outlet to express their feelings, feelings they might not have known they had. It also gives a peak into how the client may be coping at this time, a perspective the therapist might not have had previously.

If you have any questions, like what type of songs to use or questions regarding any part of the process, please feel free to reach out! I would love to help with any and all questions. I hope you give this intervention a try and if you do, I’d love to hear how it went! Be well and be safe!

Sara Chigani, MA, MT-BC


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