The experience of being a mother of children up to two-and-a-half years old and the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Music Education

First Committee Member

Myra Jordan - Committee Chair


This study explored the experience of being a mother of children up to two-and-a-half-years-old and the experience of these mothers in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM). It used a qualitative approach employing ideas from naturalistic inquiry and heuristic research. Data consisted of interviews, notes from analytical memos and sessions, and GIM transcripts. The interviews explored what it is like to be a mother of a young child in the United States. GIM explored the inner lives of the mothers providing respite and healing. GIM is presented as a method grounded on the feminine principle and as a transpersonal therapy (Clark, 1999).Five mothers participated in the interview and GIM process. The results were divided into: (1) conscious state material that involved interviews, notes from sessions and analytical memos and (2) altered state conscious material (ASC) related to the GIM process.The major findings of conscious state material were: (1) The mothers felt guilty fulfilling personal and professional needs. (2) The mothers compromised and/or neglected their own needs to satisfy the family's needs, especially children's needs. (3) Motherhood changed the mothers' relationships especially with their husbands and their own mothers. (4) As the women became mothers their social lives changed significantly as they tended to be close to people who were also parents and who focused their social lives on children's needs.The major findings of the ASC were: (1) GIM allowed transpersonal experiences such as synchronicity and spirituality. (2) GIM images often related to the mother's ability to relax, take their own time and explore the surroundings and contrasted to the lack of autonomy, self care and stress that were expressed in the interviews.The findings of the conscious state material support the ideology of intensive mothering described by Hays (1996) that sees the mother as the child's primary care giver. This ideology is a result of a historic process that reflects woman's role in a patriarchal system that is dominated by the masculine principle (Sullivan, 1992). Dealing with the social institution of motherhood in a patriarchal system (Glenn, 1994) may lead a woman to search for an inner quest for balance that involves inner and outer changes in her life. As a conclusion, mothering a young child is seen as a potential opportunity for a woman's growth and empowerment.


Women's Studies; Education, Music; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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