Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)
Feel Better, Think Better, Connect Better
What is SSP? The Safe and Sound Protocol is a five hour auditory program that helps rebalance the nervous system and return it to a level of safety, balance, and connection. SSP uses algorithmically filtered music and playlists that train the middle ear muscles to tune-into cues of safety signaled by the frequencies of the human voice. This process stimulates the social engagement system through a neural network associated with listening that allow therapy and treatments to work better and more effectively.
How does it work? SSP works through stimulation of the middle ear muscles and "vagus" complex. The vagus nerve helps regulate specific functions such as respiration, digestion, heart rate, vasomotor, immune system response, and more. The specifically filtered sounds you listen to subtly stretch your nervous system, helping your body shift from a more defensive state to a more calmer, restful, and parasympathetic state. This process allows you to connect easier with yourself, others, and the world around you. SSP also shifts the brains tendency to scan for danger to an openness to human speech and sounds.
Who is SSP for? SSP works for ages 18 months to adult. No diagnosis is required, and any illness, disease, or condition that involves dysregulated behavior due to defensive, hyperactive, or underactive nervous system has potential to benefit. SSP works especially well when used in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques; but it is not a replacement for counseling or treatments for psychological conditions.
Specific conditions and diagnoses that SSP can counter are: long Covid-19; chronic stress; chronic pain; autonomic nervous system disorders; emotional dysregulation (like anger, tantrums, withdrawal); auditory hypersensitivity; neurodevelopmental issues; difficulty with sleep; premature/NICU stays; and medical trauma (like surgeries, chronic medical procedures). It also helps support autism anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, PTSD, Downs Syndrome, POTS, Misophponia.
What is the music I will listen to?
There are three types of playlists. Adult, which is a mix of rock, pop, and country. Child, has music intended to appeal to children (like songs from Disney and whatnot). Classic Flow classical music without lyrics.
The filtering is the same for all three playlists so they can be mixed and matched. We can provide you with playlists of the music you will listen to ahead of time. If any songs appear triggering, it is completely fine to switch to different playlists, avoid that song, or skip to the next.
Can I Listen To SSP at Home or Have my Child Listen at Home?
Both with the right set up and support. The use of SSP is most successful when listening is done in the context of another supportive person and with the least amount of distractions. Often many people will listen while comfortably sitting, laying down, or swinging/rocking gently back and forth. It is also ok to listen while engaging in other non-cognitively taxing activities that support coregulation like playing pass or rolling a ball back and forth.
With younger children, doing SSP in the presence of a therapist can add a greater level of safety and comfort. If you're a parent who wants to give SSP to your child at home, we can first try SSP out at our studio and determine what will best benefit your child. Together we review the subtle changes that will require monitoring when using to ensure a successful experience when listening at home.
What are some children and adults experiencing with SSP?
SSP helps some individuals access a calm and more grounded state instantaneously following listening.
The areas of improvement that occur 2-7 weeks after completion of SSP include:
Increased display of affection-seeking
Increased body flexibility
Improved eye contact
Increased feelings of calmness
Finding transitions easier
Openness to trying new food tastes/textures
Able to tolerate noisy environments easier
Reduction in motor and sensory hypersensitivities
Reduced chronic pain
Less throat tension
Improved quality and sound of voice
Easier following directions
Improved bladder control
Improved visual tracking
Improve cardiac function
Greater ability to put words to feeling
More active participation in classroom
What equipment do I need to do SSP?
To do SSP in person or remotely you will need:
A device to access SSP app. Suitable devices include: Smartphones (either iPhone or Android); Tablets (either Apple or Android); newer Machbooks that have the M1 Chip; or Chromebooks.
Headphones. The headphones should be over the ear, that is, have the big padded ear cups that completely surround the ears rather than sit on top. We do not recommend noise canceling headphones (or that feature can be turned off and without bass enhancement). Bluetooth or wireless are fine; but earbuds cannot be used for SSP.
Some headphones may also require an adaptor for your device if you device does not have a 3.5mm connector.
How often do I need to do SSP?
We can determine the most appropriate level of delivery for you. Some individuals may benefit from SSP for up to 30 minutes per session over a 10-day period. Other individuals with more sensitive nervous systems or histories of trauma might use as little as a few minutes weekly over several months.
Each hour of SSP is different, allowing a gradual increase in sound modulation over the five hours of total listening. Hours one and two help calm the nervous system and your physiology to tolerate higher levels of filtration in hours three through five. Click Video here to view a more detailed video of the create of SSP, Dr. Porges, discussing the filtering process at each level.
For individuals or children who have sensitivities to certain music, we offer a Connect SSP that is the same playlist as Core SSP, but without filtering. This allows an individual to first become familiar with the music that will eventually be filtered. Even though Connect SSP is nonfiltered, some people have experienced benefits with listening.
Should I do SSP before, during, or after I start Therapy or Training?
SSP is a great place to begin a therapeutic or training program. By very rapidly shifting physiology, SSP creates a platform for other approaches like therapy, somatic work, or movement training to work better. Occasionally there can be some exceptions to this where SSP may be beneficial when combined with treatment. I would be more than happy to discuss how this may be possible as your provider.