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SSP: Safe and Sound Protocol

The Safe and Sound Protocol – remote therapy in your own home

In response to desperate pleas by SSP providers around the globe, Unyte pushed through the release of the Safe and Sound Protocol in digital format in May 2020, in order to address concerns about providing the physical product due to the pandemic.

The SSP Digital offers much better control, and requires enhanced 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 a fantastic intervention for anxiety, sensory processing difficulties, auditory processing disorder (APD), developmental language disorders (DLD), attention difficulties, misophonia, obsessive compulsions, and trauma.

What is the Safe and Sound Protocol?

The Safe and Sound Protocol is unlike any of the other lengthier 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 and cognition.

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.

For some people, being at home in a safe environment is a much better option than visiting a therapist in a clinic. This is especially the case for children with crippling anxiety. I tend to work with parents first, coaching them in polyvagal theory and walking them through the Safe and Sound Protocol, and they then facilitate the programme for their children from a grounded, safe stance. This is because co-regulation and cues of safety are 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.

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

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 500 different clients over the last five years, almost 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 or no apparent change.

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 an individual. 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 a practitioner (even between sessions, which is when the body processes), so that listening can be adjusted throughout the programme, depending on how the subject is feeling and what they are experiencing.

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 attention to individual nervous systems 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. Educating clients to be aware of autonomic state and how to self-regulate is a useful skill for life.

The Safe and Sound Protocol is available via my clinic, or from 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 on the dotted line. Expect to be screened for current autonomic state, neurodeveopmental background and suitability to undertake the Safe and Sound Protocol.

Move2Connect is passionate about ensuring best practice of SSP delivery in the United Kingdom and forms part of a network of experienced providers globally who advise Unyte and provide further training and mentoring to newly trained SSP providers.

Please contact me for further information.

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