Polyvagal Informed Therapy & Safe and Sound Protocol

What is Polyvagal Informed Therapy

A routinely dysregulated nervous system carries more stress, has a greater occurrence of physical symptoms of pain or illness, and is less resilient. Gaining a basic understanding of how the nervous system empowers people to move from one state to another, rewiring the familiar reactive behaviors and stories that we have been using. In this way, clients are more able to cope with the day to day stressors that life offers.

Polyvagal theory describes the autonomic response of our nervous system through three lenses:

  • Inside our bodies: the sensations, images, feelings and thoughts that we are aware of given a specific cue.
  • Outside our bodies: in the world around us, the ways we experience places and things
  • In between: the reltional experience we have with others, the qualities, stories, and sense we have of the space between us.

The information gathered through these three lenses is noticed by our nervous system, without the cognitive awareness that we use for perception. We call this unaware noticing ‘neuroception.’ Once information is gathered, the human autonomic nervous system has a predictable pattern of reaction or response that is grounded in the evolutionary development of the human nervous system.

Our nervous systems are organized in a hierarchical arrangement, oldest evolution to newest evolution from bottom to top. We might recognize them as freeze: our most primitive response to danger; approach/avoid, also known as fight or flight which is found in the middle of the autonomic ladder; and safe, connected and engaged at the top of the ladder.

When we are in distress, our earliest lesson was to turn towards our caregiver for relief. This ability to be soothed is what is know as co-regulation. It is the earliest language that we all learn. And it is a two-way street. Parents can be filled with awe and wonder as they gaze at their adorable babes and infants can be soothed and calmed when their cries are warmly responded to with some measure of consistency.

Learn more about Polyvagal Theory and Th Safe and Sound Protocol. Click below.

The Safe and Sound Protocol

Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the SSP is a five-hour intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. By calming the physiological and emotional state, the door is opened for improved communication and more successful therapy.

The SSP is a research-based therapy showing significant results in just five hours of application. Emotional and physiological state are critical to how we approach the task at hand. When a client has better state control, not only can they be more socially engaged, they are more open to therapy. Better state regulation improves therapeutic outcomes.

Using a non-invasive listening intervention the dysregulated nervous system is reorganized or re-tuned to a regulated state to introduce a sense of safety and the ability to socially engage. This leads to the possibility of improved interpersonal interactions, a better understanding of language, and the emotional meaning of language. Clients are able to self-regulate, engage and enhance learning.

Learn more here.

If you are interested in exploring Polyvagal Informed Therapy (PVIT) or the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) contact Hayley Hoffman