One Song, So Many Uses: A #ThursdayTherapyTune for Everyone

TTTforEveryoneWhen I first heard this song I didn’t think much of it, but quickly noticed that three of my adolescent girls wanted to hear it and use it in their therapy sessions. So after spending time with the recording and learning to play it, the gears started turning.

Currently I have used this song with 5 different therapeutic goals in mind, with an age range from 10-65 years.

The Song:

Automatic by Miranda Lambert


Therapeutic Goals Addressed: With Interventions

1. Gross Motor Skills (dancing)

2. Fine Motor Skills (piano playing)

3. Socialization (group discussion)

4. Self Expression (lyric analysis)

5. Reminiscence (group discussion/lyric analysis)

So why is the song useful? There are 3 components of the song that make it great for therapy…

1. The Beat– The song begins with a steady guitar strum that keeps the beat. My mind immediately thought “perfect set up for motor work!”. Second verse starts and the preparatory beat is added to the beat… “even better for motor work!” my mind thought. Then the chorus starts and the drum set makes the beat even stronger and more pronounced. Having a strong driving beat is key to working with motor work as it helps stimulate the brain for movement. Having a preparatory beat is even more ideal because it cues the movement to begin, therefore following through on the down beat.

2. The Tempo- Not too fast, but not too slow. This works out great for my clients that want to practice at home on their own using the recording. The beauty of having a music therapist, however, is that the therapist can perform the song live and can manipulate the tempo to best suit the client’s need in the therapy setting which is more ideal than a recording. Often times I encounter people trying to elicit motor responses to recorded music that is too fast. This will not help motor response, and may actually hinder it if the body cannot successfully move in rhythm to the beat. It is the beat that makes the movement smooth and helps promote coordination so if you cannot keep up with it then you might as well turn the music off.

3. The Lyrics- This song is all about days in the past and how things were “better” or “simpler”. For certain patients that I treat, their current state is not the best time of their lives and reminiscing on past, simpler times can be comforting. In addition, it sets up the stage to discuss plans for the future to bring back the comfort and familiarity of the past. In addition, the song is great for stirring conversation about the ways things used to be with a group of people needing an opportunity for socialization. Though this is a current song (released in 2014), my clients who are nearing 70 years old can relate to the lyrics and enjoy sharing their own memories and stories about the good old days, leading to self expression, socialization and reminiscence all at the same time.

So check out “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert if you haven’t heard it yet. It’s a great song with a great message, especially in a time of technology that is set at such a fast pace that it’s hard to keep up with sometimes. I have used this song successfully with my adolescents all the way up to my elder clients with positive responses. Having songs that can be used across age ranges is always a plus in my book!

Here’s a link with the lyrics for your reference 🙂

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