What is the Safe and Sound Protocol?


           Our brain and body’s primary job is to maintain our survival. As we go about our daily lives, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) continuously scans our environment for evidence of danger. Modern-day threat often looks different from that experienced by early humans, but our systems are essentially the same. For example, an email from our boss during a recession feels just as dangerous to us now as being chased by the proverbial bear once did. Other stressors perceived as potential threats range from worries or emotional neglect to abuse and trauma and can send our nervous system into a chronic state of defense.


           Dr. Stephen Porges states that the nervous system is an intervening variable in any physical or health condition; thus, negative mental or physical symptoms will likely occur when we are chronically defensive. This may initially look like anxiety, which is synonymous with our fight-or-flight response. If our nervous system remains in the sympathetic state of hyperarousal for too long, the body may move into freeze, depression, or shut down.


Illustration adapted by Ruby Jo Walker, LCSW from Cheryl Sanders, Dr. Peter Levine, Anthony “Twig” Wheeler, and Dr. Stephen Porges



           What, then, can be done to help our nervous system shift back to a window of tolerance (pictured above as a state of social engagement)? The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), created by Dr. Stephen Porges, is acoustic vagal nerve stimulation that helps to restore balance to the autonomic nervous system and opens the system back up to the possibility of healing. The music found within the Safe and Sound Protocol uses a patented algorithm to mimic the human voice and send cues of safety to retune the nervous system and promote calm, coregulation, and felt safety.


The SSP is recommended for use in clients seeking support for:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Misophonia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental differencessuch as autism, hyperactivity, and attention
  • Learning difficulties
  • Sensory processing differences
  • Trauma history
  • And more


Dr. Porges’ research has shown that a regulated nervous system is central to physical and psychological health and well-being. Clients receiving the SSP as part of their therapy process may see:

  • Greater focus and attention
  • Improved learning
  • Enhanced expressive and receptive language skills
  • Reduced auditory sensitivity
  • Lower anxiety
  • Better physiological state regulation
  • Enhanced sleep
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduction in pain levels
  • Increased effectiveness of other modalities (like EMDR)
  • Enhanced vocal tone


           The Safe and Sound Protocol is utilized within a series of therapy sessions, whether in-person or remote, by a certified provider to enhance attunement and stretch the nervous system much like a workout would the body. As our brain and body become better at recognizing the sounds of safety, we can better function in the world with more calm and confidence. To learn more or start your journey toward resilience, let our intake coordinator know that you’re looking for a therapist who specializes in SSP.