What is ‘The Safe and Sound Protocol’?
The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a sound-based (auditory) intervention developed by Dr. Stephen Porges Ph.D, and is derived from 4 decades of his research into the relationship between the autonomic nervous system and our social-emotional-physical processes.
The SSP music is designed to stimulate the Vagus nerve, via the cranial nerves of the ear, and over the course of a total of 5 hours, the music systematically and incrementally challenges the auditory system with carefully processed filtered music.
Listening to the altered music creates a gradual subtle shift within the autonomic nervous system. The aim is to feel calmer, more relaxed, and engaged and also acquire better ‘regulation’ of the nervous system. Regulation here relates to our ability to experience life’s ups and downs, without getting stuck in excessive stress, reactivity or shutdown.
SSP is particularly effective in the treatment of sound sensitivity.
How does listening therapy look?
Typically you can do this program from the comfort of your own home, with music downloaded to your phone, or computer. All you need is a pair of over the ear headphones.
The listening is carried out on consecutive days for periods of anything from 10 minutes to 1 hour a day, until all 5 hours have been completed. It is important therefore to be committed to the program for the duration (1 or 2 rest days is permissible, and sometimes prescribed).
The SSP is not intended as a stand-alone treatment, and is best used in conjunction with other interventions such as counselling, psychology, OT, somatic work, cranio-sacral therapy, to name a few.
For autism, behavioral and developmental issues
The initial client group this protocol was developed for was children with complex developmental disorders. Dr. Porges’ team was researching ways to improve social engagement and communication within this group.
Because the listening program was influencing and calming the whole nervous system, Dr. Porges found many other common coexisting symptoms appeared to be helped with this intervention, for example; digestive issues, sleep issues, generally anxiety, hyper vigilance, sensory overwhelm and processing difficulties etc.
It has a direct influence on sound sensitivity and auditory processing.
Since these initial studies, and observing the wide range of symptoms that could improve, the SSP music is now being used to help a large range of conditions in people of all ages.