The Safe and Sound Protocol

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) developed by Stephen Porges PhD is best described as an auditory vagus nerve stimulator. It is evidence-based, clinically proven and backed by decades of research. SSP is designed to reduce sound sensitivities and improve auditory processing, behavioral state regulation, and social engagement behaviors through filtered music

By activating and toning the vagus nerve, SSP sends a strong signal of safety to the entire nervous system.

The vagus nerve is primarily responsible for the rest/digest function of the nervous system. Low vagal tone results in persistent anxiety, difficulty in relationships, sleep and gut disorders, auditory hypersensitivity, and poor heart rate variability (HRV), known in medicine to be a reliable predictor of disease states.

With improved vagal tone, your nervous system is more resilient. SSP accesses the vagus by stimulating the auditory cranial nerve.

In an SSP session, the recipient listens to music that has been dynamically filtered to enhance certain frequencies. This dynamic filtration re-trains the brain and neurologically activates the middle ear muscles. These muscles are responsible for sound filtration, thereby improving self-regulation and sound sensitivity.

We know intuitively that sound has a direct effect on how we feel. Think about the difference in how you feel listening to a mother’s lullaby versus a person shouting. One has a calming effect, the other is likely to activate a fight or flight response.

The effects don’t stop when the listening ends, either. SSP is a neural exercise which gently challenges the brain and nervous system, which continue working and changing for hours, days and weeks afterward.

Context matters. It’s best to begin the SSP only when your life is already relatively supportive and stable (ie no current or expected major transitions or stressors within 6 months). This gives your brain and body the necessary time and appropriate context to re-pattern the nervous system, and ensures the positive changes will last much longer. Maximum benefit is seen 3-6 months after completion of the protocol.

I don’t currently offer SSP for clients under 18 years of age, but for parents wanting to complete the protocol with their children, I do offer the home rental option (contact me for details). Because children learn to self-regulate by observing and co-regulating with their caregivers, I always highly recommend the parent complete the protocol themselves first (either at home or with me), before beginning it with their child. This greatly improves the chances of success for the child.

Multiple clinical studies found that five 1-hour-long SSP Core listening sessions resulted in lasting improvements in vagal tone, resulting in:

  • better digestion
  • improved sleep
  • greater capacity to relate to others
  • reduced auditory sensitivity (hyperacusis)
  • greater tolerance for experiences that previously triggered anxiety

Read more about the SSP here!

Get Regulated with SSP

State regulation happens unconsciously, meaning we don’t always have a choice over our neurological state — and even less so when we’re affected by a history of trauma or certain disorders, such as autism or ADHD.

With SSP, less is more – we want to stretch the system, not stress the system! After listening, a person may feel tired, and this is a good sign: it means the neural exercise is working! Results are sometimes seen immediately, though it may take a few sessions to start to see the effects.

SSP is not a quick fix or a standalone therapy, but when well-supported, clients can see results equivalent to six months or more of regular somatic therapy.

Delivery Options

I offer Safe and Sound Core as an affordable add-on to somatic integration sessions (both in-person and remote). The Core program is five 1-hour tracks which must be completed in order. The program usually takes place across 10 half-hour listening sessions.

I also offer SSP Core home rental for qualified clients who want to complete the program independently at home. Home rental includes one-on-one coaching with regular check-ins to ensure best results. Contact me for more information about home rental.

You can also enroll in a monthly subscription to SSP Balance. SSP Balance tracks are designed to produce a calming and settling effect without the intense neural exercise of SSP Core. Find out more here.

If you need help deciding which option for SSP delivery would be best, please contact me or schedule a free consultation.

Clinical Results

These are the tabulated results from two clinical studies that compared the SSP intervention to unfiltered music, and to headphones only (as a control). As you can see, the results were significant for the SSP intervention (filtered music).

SSP Balance Subscription

The Safe and Sound Balance program is much less intense than the core program. It is the same playlist as the Core, but with less filtering. It is calming without the full vagal re-set, and can be used on your own whereas the Core program must be completed with a practitioner.

Balance can be played ambient on speakers or from your smartphone, no headphones required.

Try SSP Balance – $25 for 3 months. Cancel anytime.

PayPal will redirect you to a page with instructions to set up your subscription. Payments are automatically deducted every 3 months.

You may cancel your subscription at any time by contacting me or using the button below. Subscription payments will end after 1 year; if you wish to continue past 1 year, you will need to re-subscribe.