What is it?

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five hour, research-based, auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. Based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, the SSP exerts a calming effect on our physiological and emotional state. This opens the door for improved healing, communication, and social ease.

Which clients can benefit?

  • Social and emotional difficulties
  • Auditory and other sensory sensitivities
  • Auditory processing difficulties
  • Anxiety and trauma-related challenges
  • Difficulty with behavioral regulation
  • ADD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Inattention
  • Stressors that impact social engagement
  • Difficulties in self-regulation
  • Internal agitation, irritability, and reactivity
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Gut issues
  • Low resilience

How it works:

Listen to specially mastered vocal music through headphones. The songs are drawn from well-known artists with lots of classic favorites. The music may sound odd at times with changes in volume or direction.

This is designed to exercise the tiny muscles of the middle ear so that they can become attuned once more to the range of frequencies that mammals use for social engagement, which are at a higher frequency band than that which is used for threat monitoring. These muscles have links to the vagus nerve, allowing it to restore normal function and therefore encouraging your nervous system to come out of the fight, flight, freeze response and away from protective vigilance.

We experience this vigilance in multiple ways, such as an ongoing feeling of being unsafe. This can express as reactive anxiety and/or anger. Once we are able to let go of this vigilance, we are free to engage in social interaction, resting, healing, and enjoying life.

Areas of change noted in:

  • Attention and focus
  • Sensitivity to sounds
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Social engagement & interaction skills
  • Resilience
  • Communication
  • Self-regulation
  • Motor skills
  • Cognitive processes

SSP – Supported Research

Heinrich, S., Ackermann, M., Kyuchukov, H., & New, W. (2019). The Effect Of The SSP On The Regulation Of Hypersensitivity In ASD. Autism-Europe International Congress.

Porges, S. W., Bazhenova, O. V., Bal, E., Carlson, N., Sorokin, Y., Heilman, K. J., … & Lewis, G. F. (2014). Reducing auditory hypersensitivities in autistic spectrum disorder: preliminary findings evaluating the listening project protocol. Frontiers in Pediatrics2, 80.

Porges, S. W., Macellaio, M., Stanfill, S. D., McCue, K., Lewis, G. F., Harden, E. R., … & Heilman, K. J. (2013). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia and auditory processing in autism: Modifiable deficits of an integrated social engagement system?. International Journal of Psychophysiology88(3), 261-270.

Schoen, S. A., Miller, L. J., & Sullivan, J. (2015). A pilot study of integrated listening systems for children with sensory processing problems. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention8(3), 256-276.

Compiled by Kristin Foresman, OTS 8/2021