What is the Safe and Sound Protocol or SSP?

The Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP) is a non-invasive five hours auditory therapeutic intervention designed to reduce stress and hearing sensitivity while improving social engagement and resilience.

The protocol has been developed by Dr. Stephen Porges (and Unyte ILS) as a real-life and concrete application of his revolutionary  Polyvagal Theory and backed up by more than 20 years of research. This theory focuses on what is happening in the body and the nervous system and explains how our sense of safety, or danger or threat, can impact our behaviour, emotions, thought, body functions, and our perception of our internal and external world.

SSP assists in calming the physiological and emotional states which lead to improved communication and more successful therapeutical treatment and/or coaching results.

“Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of CONNECTION with patterns of PROTECTION”

Dr. Stephen PorgesFounder of the Polyvagal Theory and developer of the SSP

How does the Safe&Sound Protocol works?

The mind and body are connected through the vagus nerve, which is the longest nerve in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), stretching from the brainstem to the colon. It is our body’s internal control center, allowing the brain to monitor and receive information about many of our bodily functions.

Listening is connected with the vagus nerve for processing and responding to cues and signals from the world around us. The SSP uses specially-filtered music to literally train the neural network associated with listening to focus on the frequency range of the human voice.

We look, speak and listen with the same system (the ANS). When the voice changes, the body responds. As we learn to focus on the sound frequencies of human speech through the SSP program, the vagus nerve becomes stimulated and the state of feeling more safe and calm becomes more accessible.

The intervention (listening to the 5 hours audio programme) uses prosodic vocal music that has been filtered to send signals of soothing safeness and that, literally, train the middle ear to tune out signals of danger (low-frequency sounds)and,  instead, take in more signals of safety (high-frequency sounds such as human voice).

What are the SSP benefits?

The SSP’s effectiveness has been proven in a wide range of studies, most notably  involving children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Trial participants demonstrated statistically significant improvements in:

  • Emotional control
  • Behavioral organization
  • Hearing sensitivity and listening

SSP improves the ability to pick human voices, allowing to more easily access the sense of safety in social situations, helping clients to improve social engagement and improving behavioural and emotional regulation.

Shifting the body into the ventral vagal parasympathetic state (digest, repair, and social connection) allows the body to heal. Cell repair and regeneration occur in this state.Moving the ANS into this calm state assists with natural healing from chronic illness, where the body is often stuck in fight/flight/freeze (sympathetic and/or dorsal vagal state). By helping to access a calm and grounded state, the SSP promotes a neural platform for health, growth, and restoration.

Watch this video  from the Unyte ILS about what is SSP and its benefits

Many psychological and emotional (anxiety, stress, irritability, depression, relational difficulties) and physiological symptoms (poor digestion, headaches, constipation, tiredness are linked to a nervous system autonomic dysregulation or “deregulation of the physiological states”. In this way, SSP could be beneficial for children, adolescents and adults with nervous system dysregulation that manifest as:

  • Auditory sensitivity
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Social anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Behavioral acting out
  • Anger and impulsivity
  • Learning problems
  • Sleep problems (due to worry and ruminating)
  • Self medicating (overeating, shopping, gambling)
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) disturbance due to nervous system overstimulation (e.g., reduced binge eating behaviors, reduced stress/anxiety related diarrhea).

How is the SSP provided?

The complete SSP programme comprises 3 possible pathways (SSP Connect, SSP Core, and SSP Balance) that are accessible through and facilitated by a qualified and certified SSP Provider. Auyantitude provides this programme both in-person in Belgium (Brussels in the Uccle – private practice and  Ixelles – Centre Champaca) and also remotely via video conference. If remotely done, you will need a quiet and safe environment and time without distractions.

The 5-hours audio programme of the SSP Core (heavily processed and filtered music) is listened to in the established order and actively (paying attention to the music and its own body’s reactions). The music is heard through headphones while the client engages in a calm activity. All of this is facilitated via Unyte ILS digital application (via an Apple or Android mobile phone or tablet) and an external headset (earplugs are not allowed)

The SSP provider monitors the client’s response to the music by observing, asking, and answering questions during the whole process. From time to time the SSP provider may intervene if deemed necessary to propose breaks, engage the client in social interaction, or in body or breath gentle exercises.

Some of the changes during the SSP process may be noticeable immediately. However, most changes would occur between 3 months and 1 year as the individual is able to engage and relate in new ways with him/herself and the world.

SSP is NOT a STAND-ALONE therapy but combines perfectly with our therapeutical approach, especially for those who are body-centered such as Auyantitude‘s modalities: Somatic Experiencing (SE®), Tension, Stress & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) and Integrative Somatic Coaching. SSP can also be combined with more cognitive and behavioral psychotherapies. In all cases, SSP allows increasing their gains tremendously.

SSP is not a cure-all, but it can create physiological changes that are otherwise difficult to attain.

After a minimum 2-3 months of finishing SSP Core, you could get access to SSP Balance (same music but lightly processed) that you can use at your own pace in order to keep the gains and continue training your nervous system to calmness and emotional regulation. 

Want to know more about the SSP 1-on-1 Programme (neurophysiological training)?

Book a FREE Discovery consultation HERE to know more

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Stay tuned for the next events and workshops for Info Sessions about SSP

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