Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Therapy

Guided Imagery and Music Case Study

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Therapy

Guided Imagery and Music Case Study

Article excerpt


This case study outlines the use of Guided Imagery and Music as the treatment modality with a single woman in her mid-fifties.

The client was referred by a psychiatrist after a month's hospitalisation, where her diagnosis was: "Acute anxiety--depression--suicidal ideation".

The client had a long history of anxiety and periodic depression episodes.

A background history of the client is presented, followed by a review of significant gains over a series of thirty G.I.M. sessions. The client's imagery experiences during one particular selection of music are traced through its use in several different sessions.

This case study illustrates that Guided Imagery and Music was therapeutic in helping this client achieve some of her personal goals.


Winifred was a 56-year-old single woman who was referred for Guided Imagery and Music (G.I.M.) by her psychiatrist, four weeks after her discharge from a psychiatric hospital. She had been hospitalised because of an acute anxiety state accompanied by depression and suicidal ideation. She remained in hospital for one month, and was treated with psychotherapy, antidepressants and antianxiolitic drugs. She was prescribed an antidepressant (Prothiaden 125 mgs nocte) and an antianxiolitic (Xanax 1 mg nocte), and was taking these during the G.I.M. series described here.

Winifred began G.I.M. in October, 1990, and had regular sessions, mostly weekly, with some breaks due to holidays. This case study covers 30 sessions from October, 1990 to August, 1991.

Family Background

Winifred was the eldest of five siblings. Three brothers were born after her, and then a sister when she was seventeen years old. Three of her four siblings were married. Winifred described one of her brothers as an alcoholic. She was closest to her oldest brother. She and her sister had not had a close relationship. Her father was still living, was 81 years old and in good health. Her mother was 79 years old and still living at the commencement of the G.I.M. series, but died in June, 1991, following a period of hospitalisation for heart disease.

Winifred described her father as a bad-tempered, domineering man who had a hard life during the war and the depression, and who used to drink a lot, especially when the children were young and the family lived with in-laws. She said he was argumentative and talked endlessly. He disciplined the children with a leather strap. He remained a very independent man who still would not allow Winifred to prepare a meal or wash the dishes when she visited him. He lived alone after his wife's death in June of 1991.

Winifred was close to her mother. In her second G.I.M. session; she said: "We are good friends. The day she dies, I'll be lost." Whilst she described both her parents as worriers, she said her mother was more placid and adopted the policy: "anything for a quiet life." Shortly before the mother's death, Winifred asked her mother's advice regarding relating to her father. The mother replied: "Let him have his own way."

Whilst Winifred appreciated the warm relationship she had with her mother, she still said: "There are a million things I'd never tell her." Despite this statement, during the mother's last illness, Winifred took the opportunity of talking with her mother about their relationship and expressing her love, and being reassured of the mother's love for her.

Personal History

Winifred spent her childhood in inner suburban areas of a large city, and discontinued her schooling halfway through her Leaving Year (equivalent to Year II). She did not wish to continue schooling. She stated that her mother got her first job for her as she herself was not motivated to do so. She held this secretarial position for 7 1/2 years. She then joined a religious congregation (the family were practising Catholics), and did her initial training, but left there after 2-3 years, before making a commitment. …

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