WHAT IS THE SSP?
Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five-day auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. Based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, by calming the physiological and emotional state, the door is opened for improved communication and more successful therapy.
The SSP is a research-based therapy showing significant results in just five days in the following areas:
- Social and emotional difficulties
- Auditory sensitivities
- Anxiety and trauma related challenges
- Stressors that impact social engagement
Emotional and physiological state are critical to how we approach the task at hand. So when a client has better state control, not only can they be more socially engaged, they are more open to therapy. Better state regulation improves therapeutic outcomes. Read more about how the SSP is helping clients.
This non-invasive intervention involves listening to 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 client to better interpret not only human speech, but, importantly, the emotional meaning of language. Once interpersonal interactions improve, spontaneous social behaviors and an enhanced ability to learn, self-regulate and engage are often seen.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The SSP uses the auditory system as a portal to the vagus complex, which controls our physiological state. Once physiological state is regulated, we can accelerate or enhance subsequent therapy.
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 will be 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.
- The SSP increased vagal regulation of the heart and normalized auditory processing in children with ASD. (Read here.)
- The SSP enhanced social behavior in children with ASD. (Read here.)
- Using the SSP with children who have experienced trauma. Funded by the Australian Childhood Foundation. (Read here.)
- Assessing the effects of the SSP on behavioral regulation in children and adults with ADD/ADHD. In cooperation with: ADD Centre and Biofeedback Institute of Toronto. (Read here.)
- Assessing the effects of the SSP on improvement of social and regulation behaviors in individuals with PWS. In addition, a new methodology for collecting and evaluating vocal samples for analyses of prosody will be assessed. (Read here.)
- Determining if the SSP can decrease the atypical features of the Social Engagement System in adolescents and young adults with Prader Willi Syndrome. In cooperation with the Latham Centers School in Brewster, Massachusetts. (Read here.)
- Examining the effects of the SSP on chronic pain in older adults. In cooperation with the Meadowood Retirement Community in Bloomington, Indiana. (Read here.)
The SSP is now available for use virtually, for most clients. We at Brain Connex Therapy will guide you through the program and help to modify or make adjustments as needed. Virtually the treatment is a 30- minute listening program for 10-days in a row. You will need access to a smartphone and ear-covering headphones (no earbuds or noise cancelling). The SSP is not a stand-alone treatment. You will see best results for your child if coupled with other neurologically-based treatment such as reflex & brain integration, and/or higher-level neurological therapeutic activities.