Safe & Sound Protocol 

Stephen Porges

Integrated Learning Systems

The Polyvagal Theory: The New Science of Safety and Trauma




Based on years of research by Dr. Stephen Porges, the Safe and Sound Protocol is a 5-day therapeutic listening program designed to help increase the social engagement system in children and adults while simultaneously calming the nervous system. We must be regulated and organized in order to understand language and engage socially with one another!

SSP is a great way to help children and adults move through major transitions (such as starting school, starting a new job, going on vacation) and prepare for participation in other therapeutic interventions. Visit the Integrated Listening System (iLs) website for more information.



How does the SSP work?


Our Autonomic Nervous System (AND) is our “personal surveillance system “ always determining if we are safe.


If our ANS is, “stuck on on”, continually aroused because of past trauma or chronic stress, the muscles of our middle ear shifts away from listening for human voice and instead listens for low frequency background noises to help us prepare for and respond to threat (flight or fight).  This leads to a more reactive than actively engaged social engagement system.


SSP is specially calibrated music that trains the auditory pathways to focus on the frequency of human speech and to tune out the frequencies of background noise.  We must feel safe to socially engage and the SSP helps us to lean in to our safety and therefore our relationships much more fully.



The SSP developed by Dr. Stephen Porges is based on the Polyvagal Theory.  A great way to understand the Polyvagal theory is to listen to (The Polyvagal Theory: the New Science of Safety and Trauma, You Tube).

The SSP is a five day, one hour per day auditory intervention that passively stimulates nervous system regulation and helps with difficulties such as social interactions, anxiety, depression, irritability, anger and auditory sensitivity.


The SSP uses prosodic vocal music that has been filtered to train the middle ear to tune out signals of danger (low frequency sounds) and tune into signals of safety (high frequency sounds i.e. human voices).  The music is listened to with specialized headphones in my office (or at home in special circumstances) while engaging in quiet listening or a calm activity.  I would love to answer any questions you have and assist you in your SSP journey.


Research on the SSP has shown changing occurring immediately and over a 3 month period where you may see changes in the clients ability to engage and relate in new ways, anxiety and anger decrease, improved behaviors, sleep improves. SSP is not a cure-all but it has been shown to create physiological changes that are otherwise difficult to attain.


Stephen Porges has describe the SSP as a potent intervention and many people may experience stronger emotions for a short time as their nervous systems become more regulated and their defense mechanisms decrease.  The SSP might not be an appropriate intervention if you are living or working in a situation that is not safe, if you are currently using substances in an abusive way or self harming.  If you have trauma that has never been addressed or a history of disassociation.  

If you have any questions about whether SSP would be helpful to you please let me know and we can gather more information to assess the efficacy of SSP for you.  







Some Photographs by ©Andrea Brookhart

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