Safe & Sound Protocol

Reclaiming Safety and Calm in your Heart & Mind
Woman on laptop wearing headphones engaging in safe and sound protocol

What is the Safe & Sound Protocol?

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a psycho-acoustic intervention designed to address a number of common symptoms experienced by children and adults. This protocol of specially calibrated music was developed by Dr. Stephen Porges and based on Polyvagal Theory. It retrains the nervous system’s vagus nerve to experience more cues of safety thus reducing symptoms of stress and sensory sensitivities while enhancing a person’s resiliency and capacities to connect with others. 

Could I benefit from the SSP?

Although originally developed for children with autism (ASD), it is now being used for a variety of conditions and symptoms across the lifespan, such as:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Trauma history/Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Chronic Pain 
  • AD/HD
  • Auditory processing and sensory sensitivities (e.g. misophonia)
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Irritability and Anger
  • Disordered eating
  • Sleep problems
  • Emotional regulation difficulties

SSP is not meant to be a stand alone treatment. It can, however, create physiological changes that are otherwise difficult to attain. The beauty of SSP is that it is not  “talk therapy”, so discussing the backstory or your current symptoms and behaviors are not necessary for shifts to happen.

Clients must either be in therapy concurrently or agree to an additional 3 to 5 integration sessions (for an additional hourly rate fee) following completion of the protocol.

What Can I Expect from the SSP?

SSP assists in calming the physiological and emotional states of Fight, Flight and Freeze so that you can feel calmer, safer, less triggered. This can lead to improved relationships, a better understanding of self, less emotional or physical pain. It is a great way to enhance and accelerate your psychotherapy process too. 

The specially calibrated music is listened to through headphones in a quiet and supportive environment with a trusted person at your side. Sometimes you will sit and listen quietly, other times it will be best for you to engage in a mindful activity such as art or an interactive activity. Other times you might also benefit from gentle movement or a walk in nature. You will often notice some shifts and changes immediately. However, clients often report that most changes occur over 3 months or more. Support from ongoing therapies (e.g. psychotherapy, OT, PT) will increase gains tremendously. Clients will often wish to repeat SSP several months later to deepen and further support the healing process. 

Who Shouldn’t Use SSP?

The Safe & Sound Protocol is a powerful intervention. Many people experience stronger emotions for a short time as their defenses are lowered. Children may experience more regressive or acting out behaviors. 

SSP is not appropriate if any of the following are occurring (this list not all inclusive):

  • A home or work situation that is chaotic or not safe
  • Current life upheaval
  • Trauma that has never been addressed in therapy
  • An unmanaged dissociative disorder
  • Active psychosis
  • Active substance abuse 
  • Current self harm

How does SSP work?

Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is our “personal surveillance system” that always runs underneath our conscious awareness, in part, to determine and respond to the question, “Am I safe?” It learns quickly and well from our past experiences of stress and trauma which can result in our ANS being continually aroused and on high alert. The muscles of our middle ear are one part of our body that is affected by this chronic need to be “on guard.” It becomes less focused on the human voice and instead is tuned for low-frequency background noises in preparation for the need to respond quickly (fight, flee or freeze). For many, this will make us more reactive (e.g. startle easily, irritability, tense/painful muscles) and less able to connect and be socially engaged.

The modified music in SSP trains the auditory pathways to focus on the frequency of human speech and to tune out the frequencies of background noises. Once our auditory system begins to become more regulated, we are more available for less reactive social engagement and thus can experience the safety of our relationships much more fully.

Curated Delivery for Your Unique Needs

HeartMind Resiliency’s trauma therapists specialize in observing, tracking and supporting regulation of shifts in the autonomic nervous system. We, therefore, offer a unique trauma informed lens in which to provide the safest, most effective delivery of SSP. This is especially important for people who have a history of trauma, chronic pain or accumulated stress.

We are uniquely qualified to integrate a variety of modalities with SSP to further support and augment your healing. We commonly weave in SEGAN Mosaic of Healing and Somatic Experiencing with SSP. 

We offer several different tiers of delivery depending on your unique circumstances. In order to provide ethical and effective treatment with this powerful modality, we carefully screen our clients to determine the best level of care needed. For many first time adult SSP users,  we will likely recommend in person or telehealth sessions with a provider for much, if not all, of the intervention time. A tentative treatment plan will be determined before you meet with your clinician for the first time, and based on how your first listening session goes, this plan may need to be modified. Other modifications may be made along the way, as you engage with the SSP throughout the course of your treatment. 

Sensory InterPlay & SSP

Sensory InterPlay is our comprehensive healing experience that integrates Safe & Sound Protocol, Somatic Experiencing and other expressive and experiential modalities that support connection to a person’s entire sensory system. This integrative approach helps establish a foundation for nervous system regulation and deep personal transformation. 

Over the course of approximately seven extended sessions, we will combine Ana Dovolle’s healing arc of the SEGAN Model of SSP delivery, that encourages self expression, embodiment and empowerment with somatic modalities for coregulation and a just-right challenge for each individual. Using all the senses, we will utilize personal narrative, art, writing, movement, and other forms of playful, creative expression. As a person journeys through the process, life themes will often emerge and can be met with a fresh appreciation for one’s self and one’s life. 

The details: Prior to beginning your formal journey, you will begin listening to the first pathway of SSP, the Connect Pathway, which will begin to prepare you for the full protocol. 

Your 2 hour intake meeting with your therapist will go over your completed assessments and information about Sensory InterPlay & SSP. You will begin with setting an intention for your journey, completing a Healing Mosaic, as well as an introductory listening period of SSP to further assess your unique requirements. 

The next 5 sessions, each 2 hours, will include SSP’s Core Pathway, Somatic Experiencing and other sensory and experiential modalities, with time for debriefing and integration. 

The final session will be 1 ½ hours to process and discuss themes, new learnings and reflections. 

Clients are also encouraged to call for a final check in 6-8 weeks after completion to update their therapist about other changes and observations after completion of the SSP.

Pricing: $2,600 Includes work with a Master Clinician, prescriptive analysis of assessments, 7 extended length face-to-face sessions (13 ½ clinical hours), 30 day access to iLS-Unyte’s SSP portal, and limited between session support, and if indicated, access to the pre- and post- pathways, SSP Connect and SSP Balance, for follow up care up to 2 weeks after completion of  SSP Core. 

Coregulatory SSP Experience

This delivery method is a less comprehensive, more affordable approach that is appropriate for many children and some adults who do not have a trauma history. It is also a great way to repeat the protocol after completing Sensory InterPlay at least 3 months prior. 

The Details: Here the client will listen to SSP Core with a certified SSP provider who will support the process through co-regulatory activities. Depending on the client’s response to the listening, some of the protocol may be done at home with a family member or friend. 

Pricing: starting at $850 (psychotherapist level) or $1050 (Master Clinician level) Includes 1 ½ hour intake, prescriptive analysis of assessments, 2 one-hour long sessions (1 during the protocol and 1 follow up) and 30 day access to iLS-Unyte’s SSP portal to listen to SSP Connect and/or Balance before the process and, as indicated, afterwards. Brief email check-in between face-to-face sessions when listening at home to monitor and modify listening frequency and duration, as needed. Additional sessions may be needed and will be billed at the hourly rate of your clinician.

Therapy Plus SSP

For therapy clients at HeartMind Resiliency who wish for or need a slowly titrated SSP experience ( typically 5 to 20 minutes of listening at a time), SSP delivery can be woven into your already existing sessions. We recommend 1 ½ hour sessions when going through SSP to give plenty of time for regulation and settling before leaving the office.  

Fee: In addition to your session cost, you will be charged $150 for 30 day access to the SSP portal which will allow you to listen to Connect in between sessions.

Maintenance Level with SSP Connect & Balance

Minimal Support: Monthly access to iLS-Unyte’s SSP portal and app for Connect and/or Balance with one 15 minute phone check in for recommendations and guidance. $100

Support with Session: Monthly access to iLS-Unyte’s SSP portal and app, $75 + hourly rate for your therapist for a single session for integration.

Sensory InterPlay Group Experience

This is a way to experience the Sensory InterPlay process (see full description above) within the safety and just-right challenge of a group experience. There is opportunity for either general groups or affinity groups (e.g. chronic pain, helping professionals, childhood trauma, grief). Engaging with SSP within a group can be uniquely transformative because of the opportunities to support each others’ process through co-regulation, connection and play. 

Pricing: $800 includes six 2 hour sessions, art supplies and 30 day access to iLS-Unyte’s SSP portal and app.

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