The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) by Unyte-iLs is an evidence-based intensive listening programme aimed at those with anxiety, social communication difficulties and trauma that has been developed as a result of over four decades of peer-reviewed research, based on Dr Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.

Music is played through over-ear headphones, which has been specially filtered in order to gradually expose the auditory system to different sound frequencies. It works by stimulating the facial and vagus nerves and helping the autonomic nervous system to regulate, improving concentration and social engagement.

Prospective clients often ask us why the Safe and Sound Protocol is so different from other auditory integration programmes.

We hope this page answers this question.

In a nutshell, the Safe and Sound Protocol is the only auditory intervention that directly retunes and regulates autonomic state, moving a person out of fight/flight/freeze and into a rest and digest/parasympathetic state.

Who is the SSP for?

Now more than ever, the world is a busy place filled with uncertainty. People of all ages, demographics and geographies are struggling.  When faced with what the body perceives as threats or danger, it responds by re-tuning the nervous system into states of defense – either “fight or flight” (sympathetic) or “freeze” (dorsal vagal). The brain and body’s first priority is to keep us alive.

When the nervous system remains in a chronic state of defense, it affects both the mind and body – impacting how we feel, think, and connect with others. 

This can adversely affect our health and day-to-day experience in the world. A proven solution is to look from the bottom up.

In addition to acute, repetitive, complex and developmental trauma, the Safe and Sound Protocol has been proven to help the following difficulties and challenges:

  • Social and emotional difficulties
  • Attachment disorder
  • Auditory sensitivities
  • Auditory processing difficulties
  • Anxiety and trauma related challenges
  • Inattention
  • Stressors that impact social engagement

This blog post on the Safe and Sound Protocol also explains how it works, as do the following videos:

Introducing the new SSP Digital elements

The Safe and Sound Protocol 3 Pathways – How we use them

Dr Stephen Porges talks about the SSP

How do I access the Safe and Sound Protocol?

The Safe and Sound Protocol should always be facilitated by a suitably qualified practitioner. Your practitioner needs to be trauma-informed and certified, and ideally have a thorough knowledge of working with nervous systems.

The Safe and Sound Protocol is available as an app for Android or Apple devices and comprises 3 elements:

SSP Connect

A programme that can be completed unsupervised in preparation for the SSP Core. While you are working on this programme, we will expect daily updates from you.

The programme comprises 20 hours of lightly filtered classical music, which is designed to promote calm. You will also have access to the unfiltered music that makes up the SSP Core.

SSP Core

This is the original five-hour Safe and Sound Protocol that you will have read about. Prior to starting the SSP Core, you will need to undergo screening to ascertain your suitability for this programme. If we do not think you are ready to work on this programme yet, you can continue to work with SSP Connect, and continue to check in regularly and work together towards the SSP Core programme.

Our first SSP Core session, whether remote or in-person, will focus on building rapport, co-regulation, anchoring autonomic state and listening to the Safe and Sound Protocol together.

Adults with trauma should expect to complete around three hours of co-regulation and listening sessions with us via Zoom during the SSP Core. I also welcome co-regulation Zoom sessions during the SSP Connect programme.

SSP Balance

This programme contains calming music designed to further ground and integrate following completion of the Safe and Sound Protocol.

It comprises five hours of lightly filtered music. This music may require additional support, depending on your nervous system.

What can I expect following the Safe and Sound Protocol?

The Safe and Sound Protocol has been described as a “portal to the Social Engagement System”, and can have powerful impacts on how you/your child interact with the world around them.

Essentially, the SSP is opening the system for greater engagement. What comes after the SSP can cement and extend the gains.

It is the repeated and consistent responses from the people around your child that will enhance their new sense of safety and reinforce the new behaviour.

It is also important to recognise that if you are a parent with extreme anxiety, you will benefit greatly from the Safe and Sound Protocol yourself, and it is recommended that you complete the programme before your child for the most optimal results.

Emma Ashfield was among the first practitioners to train in the Safe and Sound Protocol in the United Kingdom. She works closely together with a small battery of trusted, experienced trauma-informed colleagues in the UK, and also with the community of the most experienced SSP practitioners across the globe. Emma is also a contributor to iLs SSP training and offers mentoring for those intending to use the SSP in practice.

Move2Connect also offers primitive reflex integration based on neuro-sensorimotor programmes, as a prequel or follow-up to the SSP.

Move2Connect and offers the Safe and Sound Protocol and the iLs Focus Home programme across the UK and globally via Zoom.

Safe and Sound Protocol SSP UK Provider – Safe and Sound Protocol Provider UK

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