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Safe Sound Protocol

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SSP what is it?   The Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP) was developed by Dr. Stephen Porges using the principles of Polyvagal Theory and was designed to reduce sound sensitivities, improve auditory processing, enhance physiologic state regulation, and increase social engagement behaviors by listening to specifically modulated music.

When the nervous system is a chronic state of a defense; it is hard to access social engagement, clear thinking, openness to new ideas, and the possibility to growth.

Why SSP works:

  • The ability for the nervous system to be retuned. Neuroplasticity; ability of brain to change. The autonomic nervous system needs to be stimulated repeatedly through neural feedback loops. Myelin becomes more efficient. Nervous system gets more flexible.

  • Generating capacity in the nervous system.  Safety and connection into ventral vagal state leads to greater availability and openness.

  • Neuroanatomy of the brainstem  of the ventral vagal complex which is also known as the social engagement system. This system is made up of the facial nerve, glossopharyngeal, accessory nerve, trigeminal nerve , and vagus nerve.  The social engagement system regulates voice, facial expression, breathing, and regulation of the heart. The auditory system is a portal for the ssp.

  • The Power of co-regulation.  The safety and connection is bi-directional between client and provider. 

  • Sounds of safety in voice and music. Low frequencies  like thunder trigger a state of defense ; whereas high frequencies like an alarm can signal danger. Middle frequencies  that are melodic

How does it work?

Nervous system is balanced by 

by helping return the ventral vagal nerve engagement

SSP connect  (awareness of physiologic

SSP Core (self-regulation)
SSP Balance

SSP Core 

Filtered vs. unfiltered music. Filtered music trains the neural network especially in auditory sensitivity and emotional control>
Frequency changes and is dynamically filtered. The nervous system is being trained through neuroception and middle ear muscles are trained to better recieve middle range frequency.  This sends cues of safety through the ventral vagal complex.

Anatomy of listening: eardrum or tympanic membrane, middle ear muscles and bones, cochlea, brainstem, auditory cortex.  When the muscles(stapedius etc) of the middle ear contract they tighten the eardrum; this process is called the middle-ear transfer function.  This is a key mechanism of auditory processing.  It dampens loud sounds and low frequency sounds to be able to hear human voice.  When the stapedius muscle is inactive it does not dampen low frequency sounds. When the stapedius muscle is active it can dampen low frequency sounds.

The muscles of the middle ear have interconnections>
The stapedius muscle is innervated by facial nerve VII
The tensor tympani ; innervated by by trigeminal nerve (V)

sensations from the tympanic membrane are conveyed by Cranial nerve V, X, and 1X. 

When auditory cues are received by the tympanic membrane the vagus nerve will regulate breathing and heart rate to perform a calm physiologic state.

Poor functioning of the middle ear muscle can be attributed to repeated ear infections/chronic otitis media; low tone in hypotonicity of other muscles (low muscle tone is common in autism); trauma of chronic state of defense (ptsd) returned to focus on lower frequencies of threat, alarm.

Other ways SSP might work:

  • Molecular influences from neuropeptides such as oxytocin or vasopressin

  • Hormones (such as cortisol)

  • Effects of neurotransmitters

  • Brain wave changes

  • Gut microbiome

  • Brainstem functions

SSP Connect

  • full spectrum, unfiltered music​​

  • introduction to the SSP

  • Listen in any order

  • Psychoeducation

SSP Core

  • progressively, dynamically filtered music​

  • Strogegest, potentially therapeutic

  • muscle listen in order

hour three is when many of the shifts occur.​

SSP Balance

  • lightly filtered music​

  • repeat hours as needed

  • used as a state shift

  • can be listened in any order

SSP pathway,+ Playlist=program

guided by client preference

Contraindications and Precautions For SSP

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