Keeping it international: Borling pioneers program in Japan


GIML training in Japan

Nami Yoshihara ’07, Professor Jim Borling and Yuji Igari ’14 during GIML training in Japan.

International music therapists are learning how to engage and stimulate their clients’ imagination through a therapeutic process using classical music leading to core integration of mind, body and spirit thanks to the efforts of Jim Borling, director of Music Therapy at Radford University. During this summer, he provided trainings in The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music in both Japan and Spain.

In June, Borling pioneered training in The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) in Japan. This first-time, historic offering planted the seed for the growth of the process over the next several years. He will take a core group of Japanese music therapy professionals through the multileveled experiential training.

As a Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery (AMI), he is an endorsed primary trainer for GIM and has offered multileveled trainings in Germany, South Korea, Spain, Mexico, and now Japan.

The AMI describes The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music as “a music-centered, consciousness-expanding depth therapy developed by Helen Bonny, Ph.D. in the 1970s. Therapists trained in the Bonny Method work with classical music sequences that stimulate journeys of the imagination. Experiencing imagery in this way facilitates client integration of cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of well-being.” As a faculty member of the Atlantis Institute of Consciousness and Music, Borling focuses principally on clinical applications for this therapeutic method. His private practice in Roanoke, Virginia centers on work with addictions and trauma.

GIML training in Spain.

On his recent trip to Japan, he lectured at Nagoya College of Music in Nagoya, Japan before beginning this Level One Experiential Training in The Bonny Method of GIM. Nagoya College of Music and Radford University Alumni Yuji Igari ‘14 MS, MT-BC and Nami Yoshihara ‘07 MS, MT-BC from Yokohama, Japan, provided support for this program. Igari is a program coordinator and lecturer of music therapy at Nagoya College. He gave both administrative and experiential support during the four-day professional training and Yoshihara served as support trainer and translator during this training.

Igari is studying how The Bonny Method translates into Japanese culture. After watching the participants in the Level I training, he finds it very applicable.

“I think it would resonate well with Japanese population,” he said. “In Japan, It is considered a virtue not to express feelings or emotions. But we are only human to feel various emotions. Sadness, anger, disappointment, and other negative emotions are indeed felt, but not often expressed in Japanese society. Many people carry those emotions inside of them, and sometimes they manifest as physical symptoms, which medical doctors cannot treat. So I think it has a lot of potential in the society.”

Yoshihara believes the music used in the method resonates well with this culture.

“The Japanese are trained mainly with western music and I have not seen any problem applying the western music programs to Japanese people,” Yoshihara said. “It is a method that allows us to find our answers within and socially that is what we need. My clients have been able to use GIM very well to search for answers within.

“I am so grateful that Jim came over to Japan to plant the seeds of the method here. I am sure these seeds will sprout and grow all over our islands.”

This summer, Borling continued taking the method internationally at the L’Associació Catalana de Musicoteràpia (The Catalan Music Therapy Association) in Barcelona, Spain. In the second year of a three-year training program, professionals in Spain are working toward the Fellow designation through Borling’s mentorship.

To learn more about The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music, go to To discover more about the study of music therapy at Radford University, visit their page at

Jul 28, 2016