Perceptions of GIM therapists transitioning from in-person GIM sessions to online platforms during Covid-19 restriction




Guided Imagery & Music, Bonny method, therapists’ perceptions, in-person GIM, online GIM


In March 2020, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, therapists were required to make the transition from in-person, face-to-face sessions with clients to online telehealth sessions. The challenges for therapists practising The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music were particularly difficult. This study was conceived to understand how GIM therapists managed the transition and how they perceived the differences of in-person and online sessions. Seven therapists, all female, living and working in Australia completed in-depth interviews in June 2022 about each element of the session, and a thematic analysis identified grand themes and subordinate themes. Results show that there was a dislocation of physical, personal and therapy space online, with absent cues and missed opportunities for caregiving. Rapport was established online and the therapeutic process developed, but the components of the GIM session were not the same, and the transition for the therapist was challenging. Findings indicate that online GIM sessions may provide greater opportunity and immediacy for people to have therapy and experience GIM, but in-person GIM may provide greater safety and greater depth of experience. Limitations and future research recommendations are presented.

Author Biographies

Denise Grocke, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Denise Grockeis Professor Emerita (music therapy) at the University of Melbourne. She is Director of Avalon Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) training and is an international expert on the Bonny Method of GIM. She has published six books and numerous journal articles on GIM and receptive music therapy. She is a Fellow and Primary Trainer with the Association of Music and Imagery in the US and has recently co authored the second edition of Receptive Music Therapy with Katrina McFerran []

Katrina McFerran, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Katrina McFerran is Professor and Head of the Creative Arts Therapy program in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at The University of Melbourne in Australia. She is an international expert on music, music therapy and adolescents and has published numerous books and articles on this topic. She is a Registered Music Therapist and a Registered Guided Imagery and Music Therapist. She recently co-authored the second edition of Receptive Music Therapy with Denise Grocke. []