Maryland Safe and Sound Therapy (SSP)

Tsiona Cohen, LCSW-C, CCM


Based on years of research by Dr. Stephen Porges and his Polyvagal Theory, the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five-hour therapeutic listening intervention designed to support the client's emotional regulation and neuroception (i.e. sense of one's safety), as well as decrease the client's auditory sensitivity. The music is designed to stimulate the vagus nerve, which is responsible for calming the nervous system. This allows for enhanced social engagement and resilience in children and adults. The purpose of SSP is to create new, positive connections in the brain that allow the client to regulate oneself by "stretching the nervous system, not stressing the nervous system." The body shifts from a more protective, over-reactive, and/or defensive state to a more calmer, parasympathetic state.

SSP uses special music and playlists that you or your child can choose to listen to. The music has been filtered in a way that helps stretch your nervous system in a safe and subtle manner. By providing SSP in a safe and supportive environment, the brain is able to shift its focus from lower frequency sounds (which are associated with danger) to higher frequency sounds (such as human speech and safety).

Listening is typically completed in the comfort of your own home with a trusted family member available as a support. The exact duration and frequency is developed with my help, but is generally spread out over 4-6 weeks.


The SSP is a research-based therapy showing significant results in the following areas:

  • Autism

  • ADHD

  • emotional dysregulation (anger, tantrums, withdrawal)

  • auditory sensitivity

  • autonomic nervous system disorders

  • misophonia

  • anxiety

  • panic attacks

  • PTSD

  • trauma

  • chronic stress

  • chronic pain

  • difficulty with sleep

  • neurodevelopmental issues

Changes are often seen immediately, but many times gradually unfold over the course of 2 months as a person’s nervous system integrates and engages with the new information that is now available. If you have tried everything and nothing has worked, it could be because your nervous system is in a fight, flight or freeze response. The SSP is designed to help your body shift out of this survival mechanism and orient towards healing. In some cases, a second round of SSP may be indicated to continue the process.