24 Jan

The Safe & Sound Protocol, a 5 hour auditory intervention created by Stephen Porges, the founder of polyvagal theory, has been an absolutely amazing addition to my therapy practice.

SSP tends to be highly effective for concerns such as: anxiety, depression, trauma, difficulties focusing, auditory sensitivities, inattention, and stressors that impact social engagement. Many people also report improvement with chronic pain and digestion, and many women report improvement in hormonal symptoms.

It can take 2-7 weeks for all of the improvements to show up and it is not always but frequently the case that there can be a period of increased sensitivity or tumultuousness that can appear any time from when SSP listening begins, or up to 2-3 weeks after the protocol has completed.

Those most at risk are adults with a trauma history. I myself am in this highest "risk" group, having a history of severe and complex developmental trauma.

On my first round of SSP, I had an incredible improvement with social anxiety, assertiveness, and self protectiveness. I also went into both flight and fight at different points during the listening process and for a couple of weeks afterwards: when some difficult news stories arose, I found myself crying and convinced I was in mortal peril, even though my logic brain understood that those events were occurring in a different part of the world; and I told my friends I was feeling a little "kill-y", just more irritable than usual.

This, I later learned is a very clear sign of having gone too fast. I always try anything new on myself first, so that I learn the hard things in relation to my own experience rather than with my clients.

My second round of SSP I made the rather poor decision of doing it shortly before moving, even though I would never have agreed to do SSP on a client in that circumstance. In the end, doing SSP in that context just ended up making my move a whole lot more stressful than it needed to be. I ended up being incredibly irritable, which created conflict in my relationship - something that had never occurred before in this relationship - which was upsetting and therefore undermined the SSP process.

With SSP having support, connection and affection tends to not only help tumultuousness to settle, but also makes the process far more likely to be effective.

My third round of SSP has been just as incredible - or even more so - than the first.

I have been living with chronic pain almost my entire life. I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia over 28 years ago. I believe I have had constant or near constant pain since at least the age of 15 and recall having pain even as a young child.

Within a couple of weeks of completing my third round of SSP I noticed my pain levels starting to decline. Now, 5 weeks post SSP I can say that some of the areas of my body that usually my pain levels would be at a 7 out of 10, those areas now tend to be at either a 0 or a 1 out of 10. Occasionally I can feel there is "something" there, but it doesn't really hurt. Just kind of a shadow from the past.

This improvement has been amazing.  Previously with bodywork, the picture was so incredibly overwhelming and I was so prone to new and different injuries in response to even the slightest mis-movement of my body, that we were constantly just putting out fires.

Now, when I see my osteopath, because I no longer have diffuse all over body pain or new injuries popping up over and over again, we are able to zero in on old specific injuries where there is still some pain left, and I now have hope for the first time in my life, that one day I may either be pain free. Even if my current levels of discomfort did not improve, I know that it will not interfere in my happiness.

The pain free thing has really been put to the test - I have been exercising almost daily for a month now. Usually this would be almost completely unmanageable for me as I would repeatedly go into fibromyalgia flare ups and/or develop sudden injuries in response to even the slightest mis-movement or increase of exercise. So far, I have not had one single fibromyalgia flare up, nor have I incurred any new injuries since my third round of SSP, five week ago, in spite of my increased activity.

Words can not express how life changing this is for me and how many doors it is likely to open as the ripple effect of dramatically reduce pain and ability to exercise creates a ripple effect through other areas of my life. :)

Other gains I have noticed after my third round of SSP is that somehow I am feeling much less stressed overall. I have had a waiting list continuously for over a year and, as a result, invariably end up working more hours than I would prefer, trying to fit in as many people as I can.

Prior to my last round of SSP, I was growing increasing stressed, feeling great while seeing clients but then being hit really hard with fatigue and the beginnings of anxiety.

I have realized that, although I have become even busier the past few weeks, I am no longer feeling stressed at all.

It also has become much easier somehow to put things into place for myself that make my life easier: I subscribed to a clean eating meal kit to cut down on trips to the grocery store and to save time planning meals, while still eating healthy. I suddenly am not finding it difficult to stick to a daily exercise routine, and to get better sleep.

Wondering what gains SSP may produce for you?  Only one way to find out!  ;-)

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