GIM during Pregnancy: Anticipation and Resolution

Article excerpt


Studies of the use of music therapy during pregnancy have largely concentrated on the time immediately surrounding childbirth itself. The present study focuses on an 8-session Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) series with a single client over a period of 13 weeks. This multigravida multiparous woman used GIM to address goals of enhanced relaxation, adjustment to pregnancy, bonding to the child, and resolution of a previous ectopic pregnancy. In this article, imagery and music relating to these goals is discussed and interpreted. In particular, the grief process stemming from an earlier ectopic pregnancy and its subsequent resolution is outlined. Thus, in the final session in this series, the client was able to let go of the image of the previous "child", and become increasingly emotionally open to the new child she was carrying, a situation which suggested a positive outcome .for bonding to this new child. This GIM series during pregnancy was clearly beneficial to the client, and it is suggested that .further studies should be initiated in this area.


The application of music therapy to address developmental issues during the entire period of pregnancy seems promising, but has received only scant attention in the literature. Research and writing exists in the areas of music therapy and childbirth (Allison, 1991; Clark, McCorkle and Williams, 1981; Clark, 1986; Skaggs, 1984), music therapy with high risk mothers (Winslow, 1986) and in reporting use of several sessions of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) with five pregnant women (Lindquist, 1985, cited in McKinney, 1990). In fact. Lindquist's study found that GIM sessions assisted clients in moving towards completion of unresolved issues and addressing fears promoted by the experience of pregnancy itself. The present study continues exploration of this area, and reports on a series of GIM sessions within a single case study design.

Many issues and fears of pregnancy stem from the substantial psychological issues and changes involved (Caiman, 1971; Whelan, 1978). Pregnancy is described as a developmental crisis, with new and increased emotional and adjustive tasks which confront the individual (Bibring and Valenstein, 1976), and the intense experience of pregnancy often exacerbating pre-existing conflicts of an unconscious nature.

The often unresolved issue of a previous pregnancy loss may impinge upon a current pregnancy. Categories of pregnancy loss may include miscarriage (incidence of approximately one in five pregnancies) and ectopic pregnancy (incidence of approximately 1 in 100; Friedman and Gradstein, 1982). Regardless of cause of pregnancy loss, even some time later clients often have not completed or even recognized the importance of the grieving process. Denial of loss is frequently compounded by societal attitudes (Bright, 1986). Even with an early pregnancy loss, effects of the severed emotional and physical bonding to the foetus demand completion in similar manner to any other emotionally incomplete business in the grieving process (James and Cherry, 1988). It is suggested that resolution of a past pregnancy loss is necessary in order for the mother to be emotionally open to a new child: the loss of "what could have been" must be addressed (Friedman and Gradstein, 1982, p. 25).

This paper presents a single case study which addresses issues of pregnancy and pregnancy loss in a multigravida and nulliparous woman (1). The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) was chosen for this study, as did Lindquist (1985, cited in McKinney, 1990). The standard GIM session (outlined by Short, 1991) is an appropriate technique for this study of pregnancy because it has potential for examining and enhancing relationships with self and others, both through symbols and identified images. GIM also accesses naturally activated imagery produced in the grieving experience, thus having further application with pregnancy loss. …