Guided Imagery and Music with a Bereaved Parent: A case study

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Cotter-Schaufele, Susan
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The death of one’s child is recognized as one of the most painful experiences a parent may endure. Grief is often overwhelming, complicated and debilitating for bereaved parents. Music therapists have developed unique applications to address a myriad of physical, emotional and spiritual disturbances. The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM) may help parents cope with grief. A single case study explored the usefulness of the BMGIM in helping a mother cope with the stillborn death of her child. This mixed method study followed a bereaved mother through six individual BMGIM sessions during an eight week period to examine if and how the BMGIM influenced her mood states and the connection she felt with her deceased child during the course of the treatment. The bereaved mother engaged in six individual of 75 — 120 minute sessions, every 7 to 14 days during an eight week period. The researcher used the BMGIM to provide nonverbal and verbal interventions intended to increase the mother’s ability to cope with the loss of a baby. The study examined data from transcripts of the individual sessions, the Profile of Moods States Scales, and mandala drawings. The total mood disturbance score from the POMS questionnaire demonstrated a decrease from 146 to 27. The baseline score was not within the normal mood disturbance range. The after treatment score was within a normal POMS range, suggesting that the mother experienced more normal mood states after treatment than before treatment began. Mandala drawings completed after each session were described by the mother as positive images that she experienced during the BMGIM session. A comprehensive analysis from the mother’s session transcripts, questionnaires and mandalas suggest that during this eight week experience this mother experienced a heightened sense of relationship with her deceased child and more positive mood states.