28 May
  1. Are you considering trying the Safe & Sound Protocol (SSP) for yourself or your child?

    Many people seeking an SSP provider simply look for whoever has the best price or someone who is local to them.

    In many situations that is a pretty good place to start.  However, as a psychotherapist with over 29 years of experience trained in an extremely long list of modalities with SSPthe choice of which provider you work with is more important with SSP than is the case with any other approach I have come across.

    When SSP goes well it can be an absolutely joy filled miracle.

    When SSP does not go well, it can become extremely uncomfortable. Concerns that may have already felt quite difficult and overwhelming may become temporarily much worse.  For those who are very sensitive to SSP, it can be like lighting a match to gasoline if not done well.

    I have often had SSP clients referred to me to help repair the fallout after they felt harmed by their experience with an SSP provider who did not fully understand how to deliver SSP.

    I have also had SSP providers referred to me because they felt traumatized by what they had seen when SSP went wrong and they recognized that they needed help with trauma processing as well as in accessing more advanced SSP training or SSP consultation  order to feel safe before offering SSP again.

    Part of what really upsets me when SSP goes badly or when someone reads about SSP having gone poorly is that they often decide that it's too risky, to unsafe or that it simply isn't for them.

    From my perspective that is simply tragic as it leaves people feeling cut off from an approach that may be absolutely life changing for them, as long as it is delivered by a skilled provider.

    Delivering SSP is not as simple as "just" listening to 5 hours of specially filtered music.

    In addition, some of what is really important with SSP will include the context that the individual is in.

    SSP is more likely to be more effective within the context of someone feeling safe and supported.

     It is important for kids that their parents, teachers and others in their lives be able to hold space for them with gentle compassion even if they at some point have a rough time during SSP.

    During the SSP process and for a few to several weeks afterwards, it is important that those around the person doing SSP can hold in their awareness that what may look like "behaviour" is actually someone being hijacked by trauma physiology especially if SSP has gone too quickly.

    While it doesn't need to be perfect, if someone is repeatedly met during SSP with anger frustration or punishment, that can potentially sabotage someone's likelihood of having SSP improvements.

    So, what are some questions you should ask an SSP provider you are considering working with?

    1) How long will it take me to go through SSP?  

    Although this may get frustrating at times, the ideal answer you want to hear is "it depends".

    Every brain and nervous system is different. You want to hear that how the provider is going to approach SSP with you or your family member is to see what works best for their specific nervous system, rather than deciding ahead of time to use a particular formula that will allow them to complete SSP over the space of X number of days, weeks or months.

    2) How much SSP will be listened to each day?

    Again, the ideal (even if annoying!) answer to this is something like: "It depends" or "we won't know until we get there".

    You also want to hear that the provider is aware that the ideal pacing for someone is likely to keep changing throughout the process, especially as someone moves from one hour of filtered music to the next.

    The filtration on each hour is different so how it lands in the nervous system is likely to vary for someone.

    For some people how much SSP listening is likely to be ideal may even vary from one day to the next, within the same hour of filtered music.

    3) How will we know how much listening to start with?

    Ideally what you want to hear is something like I prefer to start out gradually with a smaller amount and then slowly increase from there if that is what your physiology tells us is right.

    You want to ideally hear that the provider is aware that there can be a delay before SSP dysregulation occurs, so they prefer to not jump in with doing a longer amount unless there is something that they observe during listening that tells them that that is likely to go quite well, AND that they have a plan for how to very quickly bring relief if in the end, they were wrong.

    It IS reasonable for the provider to have an idea of how much they suspect you or your child are likely to do well with initially.

    Depending upon that provider's typical client base and your or your child's concerns and histories they may have a pretty good idea how long a first listening session might be but ideally you want to hear that they are open to the possibility of being wrong.

    You want to hear listening increments stated as likely being "up to" a certain amount and "we may need to stop sooner".

    If you are hearing rigidly stated things like it's always fine to start with X amount or everyone finds the first hour really easy and gentle, or that no one is able to listen to more than Y, or that otherwise the ideal SSP process can only look one particular way, then that tells us that that provider believes that everyone is likely to fit into the mold of what they have seen so far.

    If you or your child are someone who fits that particular mold then your SSP process is likely to go well.

    If you or your child are more complex or have an atypical way of responding to SSP, there is a potential that your process may become either very uncomfortable or run the risk of being less effective.

    When a provider is observing the start of listening ideally you want to hear that they will observe how your nervous system responds - and most ideally that they will help you to recognize how your or your child's physiology is responding, so that you are able to know what to do if later listening when the provider is not present.

    4) How much will we be in touch during the SSP process?

    Ideally you want to hear that the provider wants you to stay in touch with them throughout the SSP process. Different providers may have different guidelines about how often to be in touch and when they are or are not available.

    Something I tell my clients is that we will be playing detective together, looking for signs of how their or their child's nervous system is responding so that we can be sure SSP delivery is optimized to their specific nervous system, for best possible outcomes with the gentlest possible SSP experience.

    I myself encourage people to check in often with me over email, and that while I do not respond over weekends or evenings unless something is urgent, I am quite happy to hear from people most days during their SSP process.

    It is very important that the SSP process be supervised.  I try to ensure that my clients are aware that checking in with me often - especially when dysregulation appears or when moving from one hour of filtered music to the next - providing me with data to work with, and following my advice is essential in order to maximize the effectiveness of SSP.

    You want to hear that you will NOT be left to figure SSP out on your own.

    5) Are there any risks when doing SSP?

    The correct answer to this question is YES.

    You want to hear that the provider is aware that with SSP there is very much a risk that things can become very uncomfortable if someone goes too quickly, listens at a volume that is much too loud for them, or  otherwise does SSP improperly.

    You want to see that the provider knows to screen for potential contraindications or risk factors for SSP.  Although in my experience almost anyone can do SSP successfully as long as the process is titrated to their specific nervous system, they should be asking about a list of variables that a well informed SSP provider is educated about.  Ideally the provider will use that information to help them to anticipate ahead of time how much additional care may be needed and that they are communicating that to their client as informed consent is a legal and ethical requirement.

    If something uncomfortable does happen during SSP it will almost always be quite temporary.

    The one caveat I am aware of is that if someone's tinnitus becomes worse during SSP there is the potential that it may stick around in a worse way after SSP for quite a long time, possibly indefinitely.

    Having said that, I have done SSP successfully with quite a lot of people with tinnitus and have only one time seen tinnitus become worse during SSP.

    Occasionally someone also has tinnitus first begin during SSP.  Out of the hundreds of highly complex people I have offered SSP to, I have only seen that one time.

    For those who have tinnitus start for the first time during SSP, that experience does seem to be far more likely to be quite temporary.

    If you are concerned about tinnitus and SSP be sure to ask your prospective provider how they will help to decrease your level of risk as there are a number of ways to do that.

    6) Will you be present for all of SSP listening?

    There is no one right answer here - but it's important to know what the process is likely to look like, so that you are signing up for what you think you are signing up for.

    Ideally you'd like to hear that the provider is aware that there are many different ways of delivering SSP well.

    How each provider delivers SSP will be partly decided by what is more comfortable for them or what is more practical in their practice.

    This blog post discusses some pros of having a provider present for all of SSP listening versus other possiblities.

    7) What happens if something becomes rough during the SSP process?  How will you help, and when?

    Again, there are different suitable answers to this question. Different providers have different work schedules, and different approaches to SSP delivery.

    Ideally you want to hear that the provider already knows what to do and how they will help, even before something becomes challenging.

    Alternatively you want to hear that they have someone that they have ready access to for help and consultation that they can touch base with quickly to get advice or suggestions if something comes up that they don't understand or haven't seen before.

    You also want to hear that they have seen SSP become rough at times - anyone who has done much SSP at all will have had moments where something unexpected has occurred.

    You want to hear that they already have strategies and solutions in place that they have an established track record with in knowing that they either always work or almost always work for people, quite quickly. And that they have backup plans B, C, and D should that specific intervention not be effective for you.

    Most important of all you want to hear that you will never be left on your own to figure it out.

    Although I personally receive more demand for help with SSP than I can possibly keep up with myself, when working with any SSP Yoda Associate Provider all of whom delivery SSP to clients internationally regardless of location,  you can be sure that in addition to already being highly skilled with SSP, they also have ready access to my own expertise quickly and at no cost to them and that they are familiar with all of the tips and tricks that I have discovered help SSP dysrsegulation to not only settle quickly but to most often transform those experiences into sudden bursts of improvement.  :)

    8) What is the total cost of doing SSP with you?

    The answer to this question is going to vary a great deal - be sure that you are also checking what currency the fee for providers who are not local to you, as that can make a significant difference.

    It should ideally be followed with what is included in your SSP rate? so that you can be sure you are comparing apples to apples. 

    There are providers who charge as little as nothing for SSP though rates starting at around $350 US are more typical.

    I have heard rates as high as $10,000 US for one round of SSP.

    If in doubt, please be clear:  no SSP provider is worth $10,000 US! 

    While it is certainly important to not go well past what you can afford, with SSP your investment may be wasted if you work with a provider who does not adequately understand how to offer SSP.  There is no point in choosing to work with the cheapest provider who may then make things worse rather than better.  

    Worst of all, sometimes those providers then abandon their clients who then are likely to have additional expense in paying someone else to help clean up the mess and ideally help them to then get the results they were hoping to see in the first place.

     One of my associates and I are fully or partially covered by many extended health plans in Ontario, Canada.  One of my associates SSP services are partially covered by US based insurance in most US states.

    9) Is there a time limit within which I need to finish SSP?  What happens if I go beyond that?

    Although there is no right and wrong here - SSP is quite difficult to figure out charging for and every SSP provider needs to figure out what works best for them in their life and practice.

    However, in an ideal world I prefer when SSP is accessed through a flat rate when possible which most often requires that delivery be remote for this to be workable for providers.

    I prefer that people do not feel that they have to rush through SSP in order to save money.  Or that they be reluctant to reach out to their provider if doing so costs something each time - as not checking in as often is likely to limit effectiveness of SSP and increase the risk of significant discomfort arising.

    With SSP Yoda and Associates, although my team members are happy to come up with alternate plans with additional provider to client sessions added one when someone prefers that, our flat rate approach to SSP typically includes access to the SSP app for up to 6 months.

    After that timeframe, there may be an additional $50 CDN per month (approx $37 US) fee, when someone needs more time to complete SSP.

    10) Are there any limits to who you offer SSP to?

    Some SSP providers only work with certain age groups.

    Some providers only work with people they expect to be more straightforward. A difficulty is that with SSP while we can start out with a theory, we are not always able to identify in advance which person may be more complex in how they respond to SSP.

    Some SSP providers only work with those located with a specific geographical area.

    Some SSP providers only offer SSP to those who are already their own clients receiving a different service. Or only to those who are regularly seeing a therapist.

    All SSP Yoda Associate providers offer SSP to people internationally though some of us have other parameters that we differ on such as age group(s).

    Should you be hoping to work with someone who is local to your area, I also may be able to help connect you with a provider who has done my advanced SSP provider training.

    Although there is currently a relatively small list of providers who have trained with me thus far, since the first training just occurred March 2024 this number is steadily growing as providers access the Zoom recording of my training, as well as those who will attend future live trainings that I offer.

    At the present moment, I already have SSP Yoda Informed providers I am happy to recommend in countries as diverse as Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, France, and Scotland.
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