In response to COVID-19 I am utilizing online and phone sessions. I am also co-leading an integrative group to include meditation/movement.

The Safe and Sound Protocol for Adults


The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is an evidence-based listening therapy designed to reduce sound sensitivities and improve auditory processing, behavioral state regulation, and social engagement behaviors through filtered music.

As a practical application of Polyvagal Theory, the SSP acts as a non-invasive, acoustic vagal nerve stimulator, helping to re-tune the nervous system to better support connection, collaboration and resilience.

The SSP involves listening to specially filtered music through headphones alongside a provider, in-person or remotely.

Suitable for children and adults, the SSP has demonstrated benefits for individuals with trauma, anxiety, sensory processing differences and more.

Intake Process

We will have an initial intake session where I can learn more about the particulars of what brings you in and what you are hoping to experience. I will ask questions about your history and inquire about how your nervous system responds both to stressors and to cues of safety.

I may ask about sound and sensory sensitivities, past trauma, current medical interventions and current engagement in psychotherapy. We will also discuss additional symptoms that may be associated such as chronic pain or digestive difficulty. In addition, we will consider relationships that are supportive and those that are challenging.

I will also ask you to fill out an intake form and some additional pre-listening assessments if we determine together that it would be helpful. In that case, we will also utilize post listening assessments to track our progress.

Beginning the SSP

During your first listening session I will orient you regarding how to utilize the client dashboard and help determine the appropriate volume setting for you. We will also determine what self -regulation strategies are available to you as you move through the program. I may also teach you some additional self and co- regulation strategies that can support you in the SSP process.

Once ready, we will begin with a one minute of listening and then discuss your experience with it. If that feels sufficient, we may end. However, if agreed, we will listen incrementally up to 5 or 6 minutes.

After the first experience with the music, I will ask you to communicate within 24 hours to let me know what you may be noticing. Based upon that feedback, we will create a plan for the next listening session that may include time listening and time between sessions. We will again communicate after the second listening session to determine the details around the third and so on. Once we find a pace that is manageable, we may settle on a regular ongoing schedule, understanding that we will continue to monitor signs of nervous system regulation and dysregulation that could signal the need to adjust.

Typically, sessions can increase in length and frequency as we move into the third hour but we will collaborate on a personalized approach and maintain contact throughout the duration of the protocol.

Additional Points to Consider

  • This intervention decreases some of your defense mechanisms, so you may feel more vulnerable during or after the intervention, which may cause increased anxiety. I encourage you to seek support from safe others. I am happy to serve as a source of co-regulation for you. You may also want to let those closest to you know that you are utilizing the protocol so that they may be sensitive to and responsive to requests for connection.
  • Some people have no negative reactions to the intervention and simply enjoy listening to the music.
  • I encourage exercise and physical activity between sessions as a tool for integrating the SSP and enhance self- regulation.

While some people notice improvements quite quickly, others may see results of the SSP up to 6-8 weeks after completion of the intervention.

These Video links include a summary of the SSP by Dr. Stephen Porges.

Please note that the new recommendations are to limit listening sessions to no more than 30 minutes per day.

SSP Changes to look out for

  1. Reduced anxiety, especially social- anxiety
  2. Improved assertiveness and self-protectiveness
  3. Increased displays of affection-seeking and affection expressive contact.
  4. Increased facial flexibility and expressiveness.
  5. Increased body flexibility.
  6. Reduced chronic pain.
  7. Change in throat tension/sound of voice.
  8. Improved eye contact.
  9. Reduced repetitive motions and restlessness.
  10. Increased feelings of calmness.
  11. Heating changes/reductions in sensory hypersensitivities.
  12. Finding transitions much easier.
  13. Speech and language improvements.
  14. Reduced sensitivity to food tastes and textures.
  15. Improved reciprocal communication.
  16. Thoughts and behaviors have more purposeful flow.
  17. Improved comprehension.
  18. Easier to follow directions.
  19. Improved processing speed.
  20. Improved organization.
  21. Improved dexterity.
  22. More active participation in classroom.
  23. Improved visual tracking.
  24. More able to put words to feeling.
  25. Able to remain regulated during face to face communication.
  26. Improved self- awareness- particularly of emotions.
  27. Improved communication- about self and emotions.
  28. Decreased panic, fears and phobias.
  29. Improved Cardiac function.
  30. Improvement in breathing patterns.
  31. Able to tolerate busy environments.
  32. Increased sense of humor.
  33. Improved ability to read social cues.
  34. Improved bladder control.
  35. Improved digestion.
  36. Hormonal shifts for women.