SSP: Safe and Sound Protocol

Safer remote trauma therapy with the Safe and Sound Protocol Digital

In response to desperate pleas by SSP providers around the globe, iLs pushed through a Beta release of the Safe and Sound Protocol in digital format somewhat earlier than planned back in May, in order to address concerns about providing the physical product due to social distancing and hygiene measures.

In September, the final version of SSP Digital will be made available to practitioners, which offers much better control, and will require greater training and controls for practitioners to access.

The Safe and Sound Protocol, in case you do not already know, is a revolutionary five-hour programme that uses filtered music to train the stapaedius, while stimulating the facial and vagus nerves. The effect is softened facial muscles, a better “tuned” autonomic nervous system and a better ability to tune into the human voice and filter out irrelevant background noise.

The Safe and Sound Protocol is unlike any of the other longer-lasting auditory integration therapies on the market because it addresses the autonomic nervous system and “fear” at a cellular level, while the other well-known programmes tend to deal more with hemispheric integration.

How does the Safe and Sound Protocol work?

The Safe and Sound Protocol promotes vastly improved social engagement: As your facial muscles soften, you become more engaging as your face becomes more expressive. You are better able to focus on conversation, rather than feeling on alert from high and low frequency background noise, and your breathing, heart rate and digestion will head more towards a rest and digest state than fight/flight/freeze.

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The digital release of the Safe and Sound Protocol is better designed to be delivered remotely, especially during the COVID19 period.

This does not mean that EVERYONE should access SSP remotely: for adults with trauma, SSP is not always suitable for remote delivery.

From a practitioner point of view, the digital version is so much easier, for the following reasons:

  • we do not need to charge a deposit for physical equipment (but practitioners may charge a booking fee in order to organise their diaries).
  • we do not need to ship our expensive equipment or worry about loss or damage
  • we can track your progress from a console, so we can check that you have ONLY completed the listening that we have told you to do. If a client exceeds listening time and then suffer overwhelm, they cannot say they were not told
  • In the future, we will be able to set listening programmes, so that clients do not unwittingly overwhelm themselves
  • we do not need to worry about hygiene or sterilisation of the equipment, which may over time damage it, as you use YOUR equipment

I also sometimes recommend that a parent completes SSP first before completing with their child. This is because co-regulation is extremely important for the best possible results. If you would like to understand this concept from a polyvagal theory point of view, please read the book Grounded by Claire Wilson.

You will be required to return an agreement and consent form in advance, as well as screening questionnaires and full payment.

I have used the Safe and Sound Protocol with over 200 different clients over the last two years, all of whom have reported reduced anxiety, vastly improved social communication in children on the spectrum, better self-regulation, reductions in misophonia and tinnitus, better sleep, improvements in the digestive system and even a reduction in appetite.

My golden rule is that it is essential to get to know and understand each client individually: the SSP involves five hours of listening, but this five hours will look different for every single person, and it’s working out how to deliver it that makes the difference between success, almighty failure and nothing at all.

The greatest success with the Safe and Sound Protocol comes when a client fully understands the process and engages with it. The other success factor is the degree to which the programme is customised for you. Recently I came across a service that advertises the SSP as “thirty minute bursts” of music. Some people – children and adults alike – cannot cope with half an hour of SSP at a time. It is essential to keep in close contact with your practitioner, so that listening can be adjusted throughout the programme, depending on how the subject is feeling. Believe it or not, feeling anything can also be an indication of overwhelm for some people!

In order to fully understand SSP myself, I have completed multiple rounds of the programme. The first time around, completing the programme in five days, as was previously recommended, I did not notice a lot of change to be honest – but this was because five hours over five days is actually too much for most people to be able to process traumas and microtraumas.

Last year, I conducted what I consider to have been an essential self experiment. This was due to witnessing extreme overwhelm in a child whose parents inadvertently overwhelmed him by listening to a full hour rather than the fifteen minutes I had recommended: the child became violent and nobody could work out why. I decided to do all five hours of listening over a weekend. The result was very disturbed sleep, Handmaid’s Tale type dreams, a feeling of the world rushing at me while I struggled with brainfog, and a horrible feeling of tumbling forward. The SSP had clearly brought up hidden traumas and affected my vestibular system. The most concerning thing to note was that I did not notice that I had over-listened at the time, hence my enormous degree of control when I go through the SSP process with my clients: many of my clients cannot recognise how their physiological state relates to the polyvagal ladder.

The Safe and Sound Protocol is available via my clinic, or from iLs accredited providers. Please always look for experienced, trauma-informed providers, and check that they understand the individual nature of the Safe and Sound Protocol before signing your life away! Expect to be screened for ACE scores as well as current autonomic state.

Brighter Skies and Move2Connect are passionate about ensuring best practice of SSP delivery in the United Kingdom. We have access to deliver a powerful intervention to our clients, and we do not want the Safe and Sound Protocol to end up being banned or gaining a tarnished reputation because of a law suit with someone who has not taken due care with their clients.

Please contact me for further information.

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