Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP)
Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the SSP is a five-day auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. Based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, by calming the physiological and emotional state, the door is opened for improved communication and more successful therapy.
The SSP is a research-based therapy showing significant results in just five days in the following areas:
Social and emotional difficulties
Anxiety and trauma related challenges
Stressors that impact social engagement
Emotional and physiological state are critical to how we approach the task at hand. So when we have better state control, not only can we be more socially engaged, we are more open to therapy, we have more capacity to change. Better state regulation improves therapeutic outcomes.
This non-invasive intervention involves listening to music that has been processed specifically to re-tune the nervous system (regulating state) to introduce a sense of safety and the ability to socially engage. This allows the system to better interpret not only human speech, but, importantly, the emotional meaning of language. Once interpersonal interactions improve, spontaneous social behaviours and an enhanced ability to learn, self-regulate and engage are often seen.
How does it work?
The SSP uses the auditory system as a portal to the vagus complex, which controls our physiological state. Once physiological state is regulated, we can accelerate or enhance subsequent therapy. Based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, the program is derived from nearly four decades of research on the relationship between the autonomic nervous system and social-emotional processes. It is designed to stimulate nervous system regulation by exercising and systematically challenging the auditory system with specifically processed music. The music trains the auditory pathways by focusing on the frequency envelope of human speech. As the client learns to process these speech- related frequencies, they improve the functioning of two cranial nerves that are important for promoting overall social behaviour. Cranial Nerve VII (Facial Nerve) helps clients focus on human voice and tune out irrelevant frequencies. Cranial Nerve X (Vagus Nerve) enables self-soothing and autonomic regulation.
Following successful completion of the intervention, individuals will be better able to focus in school, therapy, and everyday life and experience a calmed emotional and physiological state. This is based on studies that suggest that skills such as attention, state regulation and the ability to engage socially will be enhanced.