‘’If you want to improve the world, start by making people feel safe’’
—Dr. Stephen Porges
The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is an evidenced based program designed to improve auditory processing, sound hypersensitivities, social engagement, and overall resilience by stimulating vagus nerves in individuals who have experienced trauma or other stressors. Developed over four decades ago by Dr. Stephen Porges, a neuroscientist, the SSP is based on the Polyvagal Theory, which proposes that our nervous system plays a critical role in regulating our responses to chronic stress and trauma.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING SSP SESSIONS?
The SSP is a non-invasive treatment that involves listening to music that has been specifically modulated to engage the neural pathways involved in social engagement and regulation. The music is delivered through headphones, and the therapy typically involves several hours of listening over a period of 1-3 months.
Following an initial assessment, and using accessible remote delivery where appropriate, clients are slowly introduced to the filtered music over time alongside other practical, easy to learn nervous system regulations tools.
WHO CAN THE SAFE AND SOUND PROTOCOL HELP?
TRAUMA: SSP is recommended for people who have suffered any traumatic experience, be it, sexual, mental, physical emotional abuse and/or any other negative childhood experience.
CHRONIC STRESS: It may also be helpful for individuals who have experienced other stressors, such as chronic illness, bullying, or ongoing stress.
PTSD: The SSP has been used with children and adults who have a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
NEURODIVERSTY: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and sensory processing difficulties.
It may also be helpful for individuals who have difficulty with social engagement, communication, and relationships.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF SAFE AND SOUND PROTOCOL ARE;
Reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and trauma: The SSP has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and trauma in individuals who have experienced these conditions.
Improved emotional regulation: The SSP can help individuals with certain conditions like autism spectrum disorder better regulate their emotions, which can lead to improved relationships and overall well-being.
Increased social engagement: The SSP can help individuals feel more comfortable and engaged in social situations, which can improve their relationships and sense of connection to others.
Improved sensory processing: The SSP can help individuals better process sensory information, which can improve their ability to engage with the world around them and reduce sensory sensitivities that may be associated with trauma.
It also increases the attention span of clients with ADHD.
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE THAT SAFE AND SOUND PROTOCOL IS EFFECTIVE AS TRAUMA THERAPY?
An observational study conducted in 2014 to test the efficacy of filtered music (SSP) on sound hypersensitivities and social behavior in children confirmed that filtered music significantly reduced auditory hypersensitivity in participants. Here is this link to the science-based research.
Another study to test the link between vagal nerve and auditory processing confirmed that filtered sound stimulates the vagus nerve thereby normalizing respiratory sinus arrhythmias reactivity, a consequence of decreased neural regulation of an integrated social engagement system in participants.
SSP is now available at Therapy Harley Street for teenagers and adults. It’s important to note that the Safe and sound protocol is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may not be appropriate for everyone. Before beginning the SSP, it’s important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or your therapist who can evaluate whether the SSP is a good fit for you or your child’s needs.