Chronic Pain, Time, and the Shifting of Perception with Music

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

Annual Conference of the Great Lakes Region of AMTA

Conference Location

Columbus, OH

Peer Review



Chronic pain can permeate one’s existence. It can cause the body to interact with the environment in increasingly restrictive ways. It changes the quality and quantity of human interactions. It can both cause and be caused by a “stuckness” in the emotional and psychological memories and experiences of past time, disallowing effective living in the present and movement into the future. In effect, it can lead to a loss of both time and space in the physical body. Music, which is experienced in the present moment, provides opportunity for the individual to explore the experience of chronic pain, and to resolve the physical, mental and emotional issues related to the stuckness of pain.

A clinical case example will be shared demonstrating the effectiveness of music in freeing the stuckness of chronic pain. The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM) was utilized to assist the client in resolving emotional and behavioral issues of her past that kept her mired in a dysfunctional existence with chronic pain from a failed surgery. Of particular importance was selection of music that held the client in a suspended sense of time which paralleled her experience of pain. The music program intensified the client’s experience and stimulated a desire to mobilize emotionally, and to move forward, both figuratively and literally. Audio clips and the client’s own words will be shared to give insight into the powerful effect of music to shift perceptions of time and of pain.

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