What is the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)?

What is Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)?

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is an evidence-based listening therapy designed to reduce sound sensitivities and improve auditory processing, behavioural state regulation, and social engagement behaviours through filtered music.

As a practical application of Polyvagal Theory, the Safe and Sound Protocol acts as a non-invasive, acoustic vagal nerve stimulator, helping to re-tune the nervous system to better support connection, collaboration, and resilience.

The Safe and Sound Protocol involves listening to specially filtered music through headphones alongside a provider, in-person or remotely. Suitable for children and adults, the SSP has demonstrated results for individuals with trauma, anxiety, sensory processing differences and more. It activates the client’s social engagement system, helping to accelerate and enhance therapeutic outcomes. It suppers physiological state regulation, allowing for greater resilience.

You can find out more information about the Safe and Sound Protocol at http://www.whatisthessp.com

Who is Safe and Sound Protocol beneficial for?

  • Trauma
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Long covid
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Misophonia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Overactive/underactive emotional states
  • Sensory challenges
  • Fear/phobia-related disorders
  • ADHD
  • Digestion issues related to physiological state (or stress)
  • Attention difficulties.
Safe and Sound Protocol

Photo by William Bout on Unsplash

What is Required for the Safe and Sound Protocol?

To access the Safe and Sound Protocol, you need a smartphone with the app installed. You need an account activated for remote listening by your therapist. The listening requires over-the-ear headphones without noise cancellation features (or the noise cancellation features turned off).

Doing the listening as recommended by your therapist, as your therapist will create a program plan based on your symptoms and experiences as well as how your nervous system reacts to the Safe and Sound Protocol. Check-ins with your therapists for remote listening sessions (outside of counselling sessions) to email or secure messaging.

How long will it take?

It can take anywhere from 5 days to a year, depending on your nervous system. Everyone’s nervous system is different and responds to the Safe and Sound Protocol differently. It will depend on how dysregulated your nervous system is and how your nervous system responds to the Safe and Sound Protocol. It is important to understand that it is important not to rush the process and to listen to your nervous system. Working with your therapist to get the most out of the SSP.

What is the process?

If you are a current client, once you decide to invest in the Safe and Sound Protocol, I will send you an assessment for you to fill out in your own time. We will take a session to fill in any needed resources, explain the psychoeducation to support the SSP and discuss how we will implement it. Generally, we will do a bit of listening during that first session to see how your nervous system is handling it. If appropriate, we will transfer the rest of the listening to remote access, with email or secure messaging check-ins, and check-ins with each of your counselling sessions.

If you are a new client, I will send you an assessment for the Safe and Sound Protocol along with your intake and informed consent forms. It will take about 2 – 3 sessions for history taking (allowing your therapist to understand what may be affecting your nervous system), resource and skill building, essential psychoeducation, and exercises to better understand your nervous system.

Once enough support has been established. We will do a bit of listening during a session to see how your nervous system responds to it before having you listen to it independently through the app with email/secure messaging support and regular check-ins during your counselling sessions.

It is important to go through the listening process as slowly as your nervous system needs. Some people may need to take breaks or do activities that are more regulating while doing their listening. Your therapist can help you to understand what to pay attention to and what the proper balance is.

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Published by Leona Westra

A Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) based in Surrey, BC with specialized training in Chronic Pain, Trauma, Nervous System Dysregulation, and Grief.

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