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Safe and Sound Protocol

SSP (Safe and Sound Protocol) is an auditory intervention based on Polyvagal Theory. It can be delivered remotely through an app for iOS and Android mobile devices. I have completed training and certification to offer this intervention to my clients. 

How & What Does SSP Do?

SSP addresses the changes that often occur due to exposure to trauma and/or chronic stress. Trauma and chronically elevated stress levels (from whatever cause) can change the way our body interprets and responds to cues. When our systems are always on high alert and fight, flight, and freeze responses are easily triggered it can be very challenging to change. These patterns and difficulty altering them often leave individuals feeling frustrated and even hopeless.

Alone or paired with EMDR (my preference!) SSP can retrain the nervous system to achieve a more regulated response pattern. The purpose of SSP is to recalibrate our response patterns to stop overreacting to cues. It achieves this through a passive, auditory intervention. 

What Do I Need?

In addition to an internet connection and an iOS or Android mobile device you need to use over the ear headphones. If they have any noise cancelling or bass boosting shut those features off. Other types of headphones and earbuds don’t conduct sounds in the same way, and earbuds can also add an additional sensory aspect that we are trying to avoid.

What Kind of Music Is It?

There are multiple playlists including classical, modern classics, and even Disney and children's songs. There are 3 SSP pathways for each playlist, beginning with Connect (the second being Core, and third is Balance).

How Will This Work?

At first I'll set you up to have access to the non-filtered playlist to get accustomed to the music and establish a daily listening routine. I’ll add the Core playlist (the altered music tracks) later once we've completed screening to get a baseline of your physiological feelings, sensations, and/or symptoms.

The intake and other screening tool(s) will be asking you about your experience with music, sounds, and body feelings and sensations. If we have not specifically discussed it yet here’s a brief explanation of a few of the following terms you will see:

Ventral Vagal state- this is our feeling safe state.

Sympathetic state- mobilized/physically activated state. Ready to fight or run. This is one of the 2 survival states.

Dorsal Vagal state- immobilized/shut down state. Think animals who ‘play dead’ as a last ditch effort to survive. This is the other survival state.

 

Once I've set you up and the Unyte app is downloaded you'll see access to your playlist(s), beginning with Connect. Connect is JUST the music, full spectrum, with no filtering or other alteration. I like to start with Connect to help you get accustomed to the tracks and establish a routine for listening. You'll want to be in a place that you feel you can relax in (ideally a place to feel safe in, but relaxed/calm is good enough), you can color, knit or do other things with your hands while listening but not anything that requires any real brainpower or cognitive reasoning. You can do breathing exercises as well if you like, or stretching. 

 

Considerations and Filtered Playlists

Please take a moment each time you begin listening to evaluate the volume. It will be lower than your usual listening volume, as it is meant to be the lowest volume you can tolerate without straining to hear the notes. Tolerable varies from person to person, so if you are ending up straining to hear and frustrated that’s a sign to turn it up a little more.

 

While SSP cannot really be completely too slowly, it should be consistent and can definitely be done too quickly! By listening for a small amount of time each day you allow your body time to adjust and fully benefit without becoming overwhelmed. 

 

The Core playlists feature progressively filtered tracks. If you were listening to Connect for an hour daily, be aware that Core will probably proceed more slowly. More specific directions will be given by me based on your individual needs, concerns, and your experience listening to the filtered tracks. We will adjust the intensity as needed based on your experience. Since Core’s filtering gets progressively more intense it should only be listened to in order!

 

The Balance playlists feature lightly filtered music tracks and may be utilized after completion of Core to maintain improvements in felt sense of safety. 

 

As noted in the consent, access to SSP playlists is based on my clinical judgement and may be paused or removed based on: your engagement in treatment; health status; response to SSP; and overall functioning. Generally your access to appropriate playlist(s) will remain active for a maximum of one year from the time of activation. 

More information available on the following website, which Unyte maintains for clients and the public: https://www.whatisthessp.com
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