The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five-day listening intervention designed to reduce neurological stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing the capacity for social engagement and emotional resilience. By calming the physiological and emotional state, the door is opened for improved communication, leading to more successful therapy outcomes and learning.
Based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, the program is derived from nearly four decades of research on the relationship between the autonomic nervous system and social-emotional processes. It is designed to stimulate nervous system regulation by exercising and systematically challenging the auditory system with specifically processed music.
The music trains the auditory pathways by focusing on the frequency envelope of human speech. As the client learns to process these speech-related frequencies, they improve the functioning of two cranial nerves that are important for promoting overall social behavior. Cranial Nerve VII (Facial Nerve) helps clients focus on human voice and tune out irrelevant frequencies. Cranial Nerve X (Vagus Nerve) enables self-soothing and autonomic regulation.
Following successful completion of the intervention, individuals are better able to focus in school, therapy, and everyday life and experience a calmed emotional and physiological state. This is based on studies that suggest that skills such as attention, state regulation and the ability to engage socially will be enhanced.
What does it involve?
This non-invasive intervention involves listening to filtered music that has been processed specifically to retune the nervous system (regulating state) to introduce a sense of safety and the ability to socially engage. This allows the person to better interpret not only human speech, but, importantly, the emotional meaning of language. Once interpersonal interactions improve, spontaneous social behaviours and an enhanced ability to learn, self-regulate and engage socially are often seen.
The SSP involves listening to a specially formulated sequence of filtered music for one hour on five consecutive days. The filtered music is played through headphones on audio equipment (MP3 player) in a quiet and safe environment. The person having the SSP intervention is accompanied by a safe other person. During the intervention hour, the two will not engage in any conversation, but they may choose to engage in creative activities, either separately or together.