Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)
Angela Baker, Psychologist and N.L.P. Master Practitioner
Level 2, The Grand Hotel Building, cnr Church St and The Square, Palmerston North
The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five to 8 day intervention designed to reduce autonomic nervous system arousal and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. The protocol involves listening to specially engineered prosodic vocal music for one hour a day, using an mp3 player and headphones. This music has been filtered to train the middle ear muscles to focus in on the frequency envelope of human speech. Through doing this, the portal to reducing physiological arousal is opened – this is interwoven with an improved ability to feel safe, to more accurately perceive the meaning and intent of conversations, and to feel more comfortable in the presence of other people. Reduced physiological arousal results in a greater ability to focus and think clearly, to feel calm, and to enjoy the company of others and an improved ability to regulate your emotions.
The SSP protocol involves an hour a day for 5 – 8 days of listening to this specially engineered music. However to maintain and multiply the benefits of the protocol it is important to have a basic understanding of how our nervous system works – in particular the sympathetic (or fight-flight) system, the dorsal vagal (or ‘freeze’) system and the ventral vagal (or ‘clear, calm and focussed’) system. When we have an understanding of this, it is possible to build a greater awareness of what ‘state’ we are in, and learn skills and strategies to move out of the ‘freeze’ and ‘fight-flight’ states in order to spend more time in the ‘clear, calm and focussed’ state. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that the SSP be used in conjunction with counselling, not just as a ‘stand-alone’ treatment.
To date, most of the research on the SSP has been in relation to its use with children. However many therapists have used it with adults with great success, and research into its use with adults is underway.
If you would like more detailed information about the SSP protocol and research, you can check it out here
For a simple explanation of Polyvagal Theory, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Polyvagal Theory’ by Deb Dana check out this link.
If you are interested in doing the SSP and the counselling work related to it, give me a ring.
Already working with another counsellor, but interested in doing SSP?
If you are already working with another counsellor, but would like to try this protocol, that is fine. Check with your own counsellor first that she/he is comfortable with this approach and then give me a ring and we can talk about what’s involved and how it might work. It would be very helpful if I could also talk with your counsellor about the SSP so she/he understands how it might sit alongside the work you are already doing with your counsellor, or she/he can phone me with any questions they might have.