What is the Safe and Sound Protocol?

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five-day auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement. It is based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, by calming the physiological and emotional state; the door is opened for improved communication and more successful therapy. Dr. Porges created the SSP to help people learn to attain a grounded state where they feel safe, connected, calm and social.

The program is derived from nearly four decades of research on the relationship between the autonomic nervous system and social-emotional processes. It is designed to stimulate nervous system regulation by exercising and systematically challenging the auditory system with specifically processed music.

The SSP is best used together with other therapies.

The SSP facilitates functional change through the theory of neuroplasticity of the brain. Changes from the SSP are cumulative and dependent on utilizing subsequent therapy modalities and will be enhanced by the social support the client receives. Once physiological state is regulated, we can accelerate or enhance subsequent therapy.

Emotional and physiological states are critical to how we approach the task at hand. So when a client has better state control, not only can they be more socially engaged, they are more open to therapy. Better state regulation improves therapeutic outcomes. 


The SSP shows significant results in the following areas:

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

 How does it work?

This non-invasive intervention involves listening to music that trains the auditory pathways.  The music is pre-loaded on an MP3 player and includes both a child and adult playlist with familiar songs that have been processed specifically to retune the nervous system.  This allows for an optimal state of regulation to introduce a sense of safety and the ability to socially engage. This allows the client to better interpret not only human speech, but also, importantly, the emotional meaning of language. Once interpersonal interactions improve, spontaneous social behaviors and an enhanced ability to learn, self-regulate and engage are often seen.

Studies show that following successful completion of the intervention, individuals will be better able to focus in school, therapy, and everyday life and experience a calmed emotional and physiological state.  

How do we incorporate SSP into practice?

The SSP is completed for 5 consecutive days for 1 hour each day in clinic during a one on one session with a trained occupational therapist in a quiet and calm environment. It is completed in addition to regularly scheduled weekly sessions. The SSP can be completed with children over 18 months of age.

More information can be found at www.integratedlistening.com