Music and Imagery Therapy as a Treatment Approach for Anxiety and Depression

Add Your Heading Text Here
Image of music therapist Carine Ries

Over the past years, the prevalence of anxiety and depression across various client groups has reached new levels and accessible treatment approaches are absolutely essential. The development of the continuum model has been an invaluable addition to existing Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) practices as the various methods within the model allow the therapist to work flexibly with a diverse range of people, and also within a series of sessions. The model includes Supportive Music and Imagery (SMI), Re-educative Music and Imagery (RMI), Reconstructive Music and Imagery, and GIM. The continuum model takes into account the client’s emotional state, existing resources, difficulties, and challenges in the here and now and supports clients to relate deepening insights about past and present to their current life situations. The presentation shows how particularly SMI strengthens personal resources whilst RMI increases awareness of ongoing patterns and difficulties. These insights allow clients to look at some of their habitual behaviors more deeply and establish new pathways.

The model incorporates the specific use of certain types of music or music programs when meeting a client’s needs, ranging from containing and nurturing music in SMI, more provocative and challenging music in RMI, to full programs in GIM. The interventions span a continuum of increasing complexity and challenge and allow the therapist to choose the most appropriate intervention for any given presentation. The continuum model allows therapists to work both in short-term and long-term formats, depending on the clinical needs of the client and other available resources. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, it has proven particularly helpful that sessions could be offered remotely via video call without losing any of the therapeutic benefits of face-to-face sessions. As the method relies mostly on the receptive use of music this can be facilitated with minimal resources.

The case vignettes illustrate the use of SMI and RMI within the continuum model and as stand-alone interventions. This could be of interest to music therapists in a variety of clinical settings who wish to expand their skills in using music receptively as a way of deepening clients’ understanding of their inner world. Online training in SMI and RMI is being offered either as a stand-alone intervention or as a starting point for GIM training.

Learner Objectives

Professional development for qualified music therapists and GIM therapists

Treatment implementation of an emerging approach for depression and anxiety

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the method


Carine is a freelance music therapist, GIM therapist, and yoga teacher and works within schools, private practice, and in the community in London