The Safe and Sound Protocol with Children
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.
I typically rely on parents to deliver the SSP to their children at home with my support/facilitation. Alternatives can be discussed and adjusted through mutual agreement.
In order to facilitate the SSP for children, I will set up an initial appointment with parents/caretakers. In this session I hope to learn what your child is experiencing and how we are hoping the SSP may help. I will inquire about your child's nervous system tendencies and how those tendencies may interact with your nervous system and others in their environment.
If there are other adults who are working with your child, I may ask for permission to speak with them in order to coordinate care.
We may then make a plan for their first listening session. We will talk about setting the appropriate volume, establishing an appropriate length of the first session and I will guide you in supporting them as a partner in co-regulation through the process.
After the first experience with the music, I will ask parents to communicate within 24 hours to let me know what they 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. 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.
Additional Points to Consider
The SSP is a portal to the Social Engagement System, and it can have powerful impacts on how one interacts with the world. Resulting new behaviors reflect an increased sense of safety, yet they are fragile and can be disrupted if not recognized and responded to with attunement.
Essentially, the SSP is opening the system for greater social engagement. What comes after the SSP can cement and extend the gains.
It is the repeated and consistent co-regulating responses from the people around your child that will enhance their new sense of safety and reinforce new behavioral and emotional gains.
He/she may make more eye contact with others due to feeling safer and more receptive to social behavior. Reciprocal eye contact and smiles will likely be easier to receive and may reinforce the natural drive for social connection.
The benefits of the SSP may appear early. However, they may not be observable for up to 6 weeks after completing the Core.
SSP Changes to look out for.
- Reduced anxiety, especially social- anxiety
- Improved assertiveness and self-protectiveness
- Increased displays of affection-seeking and affection expressive contact.
- Increased facial flexibility and expressiveness.
- Increased body flexibility.
- Reduced chronic pain.
- Change in throat tension/sound of voice.
- Improved eye contact.
- Reduced repetitive motions and restlessness.
- Increased feelings of calmness.
- Heating changes/reductions in sensory hypersensitivities.
- Finding transitions much easier.
- Speech and language improvements.
- Reduced sensitivity to food tastes and textures.
- Improved reciprocal communication.
- Thoughts and behaviors have more purposeful flow.
- Improved comprehension.
- Easier to follow directions.
- Improved processing speed.
- Improved organization.
- Improved dexterity.
- More active participation in classroom.
- Improved visual tracking.
- More able to put words to feeling.
- Able to remain regulated during face to face communication.
- Improved self- awareness- particularly of emotions.
- Improved communication- about self and emotions.
- Decreased panic, fears and phobias.
- Improved Cardiac function.
- Improvement in breathing patterns.
- Able to tolerate busy environments.
- Increased sense of humor.
- Improved ability to read social cues.
- Improved bladder control.
- Improved digestion.