SSP – Pathways
What are the SSP Pathways?
SSP Connect includes three new 5-hour playlists of full spectrum, unfiltered music. It is offered as a suggested, but optional, pathway to give context for the client, and to provide a less demanding introduction and foundation for listening to the SSP. This pathway provides the opportunity for the SSP provider to connect with the client, and for the client to connect with the experience of listening to music as a part of therapy.
If used as an entry point for SSP Core, SSP Connect is an invitation or warm up to the SSP for those who would benefit from a slower and gentler introduction. It can help develop familiarity with the music and listening process, thereby providing a sense of comfort and safety for the client to experience the music, and set up a sense of expectancy for what is to come. This familiarity helps to provide the ‘safe’ before the ‘sound’, creating a setting to guide the way for the client as they enter SSP Core. For the therapist, SSP Connect provides the opportunity to build a relationship with the client and to be better informed when deciding if remote facilitation of SSP Core is a possibility or if face-to-face facilitation is necessary.
The music in SSP Connect Adult and Child playlists are full spectrum and unfiltered. Connect Classical is lightly filtered.
SSP Connect playlists may be used:
- as a soothing and settling experience for those who feel anxious or tense;
- as a time to gain insight into appropriate pacing/titration for the client;
- as a way of creating a sense of safety and expectancy;
- as a preparatory program before SSP Core or SSP Balance; or
- on an ad hoc basis if the client is experiencing difficulty or distress.
SSP Connect Classical
The SSP Connect Classical playlist consists of five hours of full spectrum, classical music with light filtering that is typically calming. This is suggested as a first step for clients who need to adjust to the experience of listening to music via headphones, especially vocal music. The classical music here has been curated to be calming and grounding, with a soothing tempo and without abrupt changes.
This SSP Connect Classical playlist is also used in the Focus System as an introductory/organization phase. Focus System programs are used, together with movement exercises, to improve body organization, sensory integration, emotional regulation, and higher cognitive functions. I often use the Focus Program to support the shifts and gains of the SSP.
Titration of the timing and duration of listening to each of the playlists in all three SSP Pathways is important and based on the client’s response. Gentle movement activities such as yoga, stretching, and walking are also helpful in integrating the listening when the vestibular system is sensitive.
SSP Connect (Adult and Child)
Listening to the unfiltered version of the same underlying 5-hour playlist as SSP Core is a way of creating familiarity and expectancy for SSP Core. In addition, it helps the client adjust and acclimate to the experience of listening to music via over-the-ear headphones. The unfiltered versions of both the Adult and Child playlists are provided.
This is the existing, original SSP that has been used by thousands of providers and tens of thousands of clients since its release in March, 2017. It is Dr. Porges’ patented intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience.
Clinically, SSP Core remains exactly the same, with the same algorithms to modulate the frequencies and acoustic energy of the music.
SSP Balance is a pathway that can be used to extend and integrate the gains of the SSP and potentially act as a state stabilizer. It can also be used for further stabilization and integration before beginning an SSP Core Booster when accompanied by the guidance of an experienced SSP facilitator like myself. If a client has not received SSP Core, we will go slowly with SSP Balance as I want to be sure each nervous system is not overwhelmed by the experience of the music.
SSP Balance was developed as a follow up to the SSP Core to offer an opportunity to return to music as a calming and grounding experience with a less strenuous neural workout. The music in SSP Balance uses the same playlists as SSP Core, but is treated to present the frequency envelope of human voice with a narrower and less dynamic modulation around this range. It should feel like less of an exercise program than SSP Core and more of a re-experiencing of the cues of safety the client will remember from SSP Core.
There is no particular order necessary for listening to the music in SSP Balance as the filtration algorithm for each hour is the same. This means you can feel free to keep returning to the same hour or half-hour segment that appeals to you or your client or move freely in any order. You can listen ambiently via speakers or your computer or any type of headphone.
We will consider using SSP Balance as:
- a way to integrate and embed the experience of SSP Core after completing SSP Core;
- an opportunity to continue being alongside the client in their journey;
- a warm up before a SSP Core booster;
- a state shifter on a regular basis at home once I’ve assessed that the client can listen to SSP Balance without any adverse reactions;
- an ongoing daily support of the nervous system for both children and adults especially if there is a tendency to sympathetic arousal*.
*Note: Initial feedback suggests there may be more potential benefits if the individual is experiencing, or has a tendency toward, sympathetic arousal. And there may be a slightly greater risk of mild side effects if they are experiencing, or have a tendency toward, a dorsal vagal state.
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