Safe & Sound Protocol


What do we do when we have done talk therapy for food and body image issues, ARFRID, feeling like we “just can’t eat” or want to eat normally but just can’t keep it down?

Maybe our food variety is limited, we are afraid of fullness, we forget normal eating sometimes, struggle with body checking or other body image repetitive issues, feel trapped with our stuckness because of trauma or that our environments are too loud, bright, fast or overwhelming.


If you are struggling with this, it could be that you need help opening up your window of tolerance, otherwise known as your capacity to cope with emotions, sensations and life.

Introducing Safe & Sound Protocol

The SSP, formerly known as “The Listening Project Protocol” is based on more than 40 years of research investigating relationships between the autonomic nervous system and social-emotional processes. 

Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the originator of The Polyvagal Theory (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2007), SSP is an auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. 
How Does it Work? 
Based on Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, the program is derived from nearly four decades of research on the relationship between the autonomic nervous system and social- emotional processes. The first thing to understand is the importance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is best described as our “personal surveillance system”, always determining and responding to the question “Am I safe?” If our ANS is continually aroused through trauma or toxic, chronic stress, the muscles of our middle ear shifts away from listening for human voice and instead listens for low-frequency background noises in preparation for the need to respond (fight or flight). This makes us much less able to be socially engaged and much more likely to be reactive.


This non-invasive intervention involves listening to music that has been processed specifically to retune the nervous system (regulating state) to introduce a sense of safety and the ability to socially engage. The specially calibrated music in SSP trains the auditory pathways to focus on the frequency of human speech and to tune out the frequencies of background noises. Once the ear begins to work more normally, we are more available for social engagement (we must feel safe to be socially engaged) and thus can experience the safety of our relationships much more fully. This allows the client to better interpret not only human speech, but, 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.  

(description above shared with permission from Paula Scatoloni, SEP and fellow safe and sound protocol certified facilitator)


Client Love

“6 months ago I had panic attacks just walking into Grandview – our local public market, and I didn’t really have anything to attribute it to,
never mind the ability to actually eat while I was there.
Today I celebrated my birthday there with friends, eating cake, not worrying about gluten or dirt or germs, noticing all the sensory stimulation around me
but not getting overwhelmed as I usually would by all the lights and sounds and people.
Feeling like I was too much because that’s how I usually feel but also knowing that I was surrounded by people I could safely take up space with.
And thinking about how last year I was freaking out about the gluten free banana bread my friend had baked for me that I could barely bring myself to taste and how I haven’t voluntarily celebrated my birthday since pre-school because every year I would think of everything (bad) that has ever happened on my birthday and how I couldn’t let myself risk connecting with people and opening myself up to the unknown possibilities again. 
Today I did it and yes I ate cake and that’s probably what people think of when they think recovery, but it wasn’t really about the cake.
I laughed, with friends. Like couldn’t stop laughing long enough to take a pic kind of laughter. I felt all sorts of feelings today, I didn’t know I had the capacity to feel such a broad spectrum of emotions. I didn’t think I could have room to be scared and worried and anxious but also feel safety and connection and hope all in the same day. Or even the same moment.”


Bottom Line

We offer as an adjuct to nutrition counseling the Safe and Sound Protocol for more ease with normal eating and stress tolerance.

When we feel safe in relationship, we can eat and digest more normatively.
What would it be like to not have to “white-knuckle” recovery, eating, shopping, cooking and being in relationship with others, leaving behind feeling overwhelmed.
To learn more, also see:  

Let's Work Together!

Let's find out if Intuitive Eating Counseling is the missing piece to more ease and freedom for you.