Safe and Sound Protocol

The Safe and Sound Protocol

For sudden and persistent pains from:

  • Chronic pain – daily pain that lasts for more than three months
  • Fibromyalgia – widespread pain, tenderness, and stiffness of muscles and connective tissue
  • Hypertension – also known as high blood pressure
  • Brain fog – challenges with concentration, memory, and learning
  • Depression/anxiety – most people that have chronic pain also have these challenges.
  • Autoimmune disease – an illness that occurs when the immune system attacks the body tissues. Examples include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
  • Insomnia – sleep disorders and chronic pain issues go hand in hand.

Traumatic stress, which includes a feeling of overwhelmed, hopeless, or terror, can trigger changes in the brain’s patterns. The SSP is addressing these changes in the brain. It was designed to help correct specific brain pathways, allowing the affected person to access feelings of safety more efficiently and more often. Therefore, as a person feels safer and more relaxed, the effects of stress-related conditions begin to fade.

    Safe and Sound Protocol In-Office – 

    Firstly, you will fill out two forms, one for your medical history and one for your sensitivity to environmental stimulus. Secondly, a free 15-minute session to go over the results and determine if SSP is right for your condition. If you are a good fit for this therapy, five consecutive 70 – minute sessions are scheduled.

    You will wear comfortable clothes for your sessions and sit or lay down for the duration of the treatment. The therapy consists of listening intently to specialized therapeutic music with headphones while in a safe and calm state. Your therapist will observe your stress level using a combination of visual observation and data from a biofeedback monitor. If you show signs of elevated stress, short brakes are used to help you calm down, before therapy is resumed.

    The Safe and Sound Protocol Home Program (SSP)

    ZOOM Home Programs – Firstly, you will fill out two forms, one for your medical history and one for your sensitivity to environmental stimulus. Secondly, a free 15-minute session to go over the results and determine if SSP is right for your condition. If you are a good fit for this therapy, you will be scheduled for five consecutive 70 – minute ZOOM sessions or ten consecutive 40 – minute sessions depending on which is most appropriate.

    Option – 1: Five Consecutive 70-minute sessions. You will wear comfortable clothes for your sessions and sit or lay down for the duration of the treatment. The therapy consists of listening intently to specialized therapeutic music with headphones while in a safe and calm state. Your therapist will observe your stress level using a combination of visual observation through ZOOM and data from a biofeedback monitor. If you show signs of elevated stress, short brakes are used to help you calm down, before therapy is resumed.

    Option – 2: You will wear comfortable clothes for your sessions and sit or lay down for the duration of the treatment. The therapy consists of listening intently to specialized therapeutic music with headphones while in a safe and calm state. You will need a trusted friend or relative to observe you for signs of stress. There will be two ZOOM sessions with your therapist, one to train you and your trusted person on how to apply the therapy effectively, and a follow-up session after the treatment to assess the results.

    The SSP is best used together with other therapies

    While you may notice some very positive changes while using the SSP, it is not meant to be used in isolation. Improvements from the SSP can be cumulative and enhanced by social support, and other treatments or practices like psychotherapy, meditation, and yoga that aim to expand your stress tolerance.

    Would you like to know if the Safe and Sound home program can help you? Email me at [email protected] to schedule a free 15-minute ZOOM consult.

    Fee structure:

    The Safe and Sound Protocol In-Office Program – $1500 Includes five consecutive daily 70-minute in-office sessions. 

    The Safe and Sound Protocol Home Program – Option 1: $1500 Includes five consecutive daily 70-minute ZOOM sessions and equipment rental for one week.

    The Safe and Sound Protocol Home Program – Option 2: $750 Includes two 50 – minute ZOOM sessions (for training on how to use the equipment and for follow up to assess the results) and equipment rental for two weeks. This home program includes ten consecutive daily 30-minute sessions with the help of a trusted friend or family member. This treatment option may not be appropriate for everyone.

    Participants who have completed the SSP program have shown significant improvement in the following areas: [1] (1) Sarah Schoen, Lucy Miller, Jillian Sullivan. A Pilot Study of Integrated Listening Systems for Children with Sensory Processing Problems. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention [website]. 2015, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19411243.2015.1055418 (accessed February 5, 2020)


    • Chronic pain intensity and frequency = living a fuller life [2] (2) Steven Porges. Examining the Effects of Processed Music on Chronic Pain. U.S. National Library of Medicine [website]. March 20, 2017, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03083977 (accessed February 5, 2020)
    • Emotional control/ managing stress
    • Impulse control and organizing daily life
    • Behavioral organization = more success at school and work
    • Social connection
    • Hearing sensitivity
    • Quality of sleep

        What is the SSP?

        Traumatic stress can trigger changes in the brain. These changes come from feeling overwhelmed, a sense of hopelessness, and terror. Therefore, situations that can cause these changes to our brain include a traumatic childhood, a severe car accident, surgeries, serious illness, or domestic abuse. Traumatic stress can also come from events that seem minor to most people but are overwhelming to the individual. Additionally, if there are multiple repetitive stressors, traumatic reactions are more common

        Traumatic stress leads to chronic stress.

        Feelings of overwhelm, helplessness and shame cause parts of the brain to become strained. Similar to a pulled muscle, the nervous system becomes very hypersensitive to stimulation. To a person with this problem, it feels like a fire alarm going off 24/7. Everyday sounds, lights or smells are exaggerated, triggering feelings of fear. Even the harmless sound of a passing bus or a person’s tone of voice can sound like a stalking predator.

        When this occurs, the brain usually responds by preparing the body to fight, run, or play dead. All of this happens on an unconscious-automatic level. If this continues over a long period, many health and behavioral problems can arise.

        Chronic stress causes many health problems.

        Living like this, a person becomes stuck in a chronic stress pattern. This condition can cause learning problems, anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestive issues, autoimmune disease, and even chronic physical pain.

        The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a program that helps change the way the brain processes chronic stress.

        SSP was designed to help rewire the brain allowing the affected person to access feelings of safety more easily and more often. As a person feels safer and therefore, more relaxed, the effects of chronic stress begin to fade. [3] (3) David Alvarez, Pamela Rockwell. Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management. American Family Physician [website]. February 15, 2002. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0215/p653.html (accessed January 29, 2020)

        How Does SSP Work?

        The Safe & Sound Protocol, backed by over 20 years of clinical research, was designed and developed by Stephen Porges, PhD. [4] (4) Stephen Porges, Olga Bazhenova, Elgiz Bal, Nancy Carlson, Yevgeniya Sorokin, Keri Heilman, Edin Cook, and Gregory Lewis. Reducing Auditory Hypersensitivities in Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Findings Evaluating the Listening Project Protocol. National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health [website]. August 1, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4117928/ (accessed January 29, 2020)

        SSP includes the use of music that has been specially selected to help reduce the effects of chronic stress. The music is modified by a computer to stimulate key muscles in the middle ear. [5] (5) The Stapedius is located in the middle ear. Its function is to adjust the tension on the eardrum in response to sounds in the environment. It protects the ear bones from sudden loud sounds. It also adjusts to hearing sounds of different frequencies. Trauma conditions are associated with this muscle being stuck in a slack mode. A slack eardrum picks up low-frequency sounds that are associated with danger. A tight eardrum picks up high-frequency sounds that are associated with human speech and situations of safety. Gierek T, Salska-Kaspera A. The stapedius muscle—The present opinions about anatomy and physiology. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health [website]. 2007, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17605415 (accessed February 5, 2020)

        Specialized headphones are used to apply the treatment. The music is played one hour a day for five days in a row. The sound therapy must be administered in a safe unstimulating environment under the supervision of a trained professional.

        Specially filtered music helps the nervous system reach states of safety more easily.

        This specially filtered music stimulates and tones the muscles that control the eardrum. These middle ear muscles go slack during traumatic events. When this happens, many sounds that are generally perceived as safe become interpreted as danger signals by your nervous system. When these ear muscles reactivate, normal environmental sounds no longer feel like danger signals. The affected person can now more easily relax and feel safe in their surroundings. Activities that used to be a struggle now become more manageable.

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