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Case StudySSPAnxiety

Client’s severe anxiety declines in only a few months with the SSP

🕑 4 minutes read
Posted October 20, 2022

About the Provider

Name: Vincent Wilkin
Discipline/Credentials: 
Medical Doctor, Musician
Modalities:
Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), Somatic Practices


Client Background

Name: Sophie (pseudonym)
Age and Gender: 33-year-old woman
Program Delivered: Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)
(SSP Core and Balance, Hours 1 through 5)

Sophie, 33, contacted provider Vincent Wilkin for the first time with her husband. The three of them had a video call together, during which she spoke very little and cried most of the time as her husband described her problems. Due to her severe anxiety, she had been admitted to psychiatric institutions multiple times, was living part-time at her parents’ home, and was unable to take care of her newborn because of panic attacks, depression and suicidal thoughts that she experienced. Her husband was very supportive, as were her parents.

Sophie was under medication that included antipsychotics for months but said it didn’t help improve her condition at all. In addition to being monitored by a psychiatrist and a psychologist, she was proactive in searching for solutions by seeing a functional medicine doctor, an osteopath and practitioners in other modalities, such as energetic healing. However, none of these treatment modalities helped improve her condition, and for months she couldn’t go through a full day without breaking down. At the beginning of the intervention, her GAD test score was 17, and her PHQ score was 17.

Her husband read about Polyvagal Theory and thought all her symptoms matched with a dysregulated state. They contacted Vincent as a last resort after they believed they had “tried everything.”


Implementation of the SSP

The SSP was delivered to Sophie remotely through 21 one-hour sessions. Vincent began each session by talking to Sophie about how she felt. They used a subjective scale of anxiety from 0 to 10, and if she were not between 4 and 6, they would not start the listening session that day. Eighty percent of the listening was completed with Vincent in 15- to 30-minute sessions. Her independent listening time never exceeded 15 minutes.

Vincent and Sophie would do 10 minutes of somatic practices, such as breathing, touching the body, joints and self-massage, accompanied by a constant feedback of her internal scale. They would do more rounds of this if she were not feeling stable and calm, as some sessions would start with a lot of crying, panic and sometimes suicidal thoughts. Sophie was advised to walk outside in nature every day, which she did, and Vincent often reiterated how she could self-regulate her state only by doing these simple exercises by herself.

About a month into the SSP, Sophie “realized her power,” according to Vincent. The tipping point came when Sophie met with her psychiatrist halfway through the SSP. The psychiatrist told Sophie that she was not improving at all and that she would have to be hospitalized again. However, Vincent completed a GAD test with Sophie not too long before this appointment, where she scored a 4, and called her husband, who said Sophie’s state was improving tremendously.

When Vincent and Sophie met the next day following the appointment, she had a panic attack when describing the appointment and what the psychiatrist told her. Vincent reassured her by referring to her recent GAD test and how she objectively improved a lot. They completed a round of exercises, which helped calmed her down. She then realized that she had power over her state of anxiety and that she had made so much progress in a month and a half. After that incident, everything continued to get better and better.

Response

Following the intervention, Sophie ended up with a GAD score of 4. Vincent contacted her two months after the end of the SSP, and received this testimonial from Sophie:

“During the SSP process, it provided me with a safe place. I was constantly looking forward to the next session for the peace and quiet it brought me. After completing the protocol, I had tools to bring myself back into my safe place, and it really helped me with my anxiety issues. I thank Vincent for his professionalism throughout the process.”

Sophie also added that she could now go on holiday with her family (travelling by plane) without too much anxiety. Compared to her state when they first started, the result was “almost unexpected,” Vincent said.

Discussion

“[Sophie] was my first ‘difficult’ client and I was walking on ice all the way through,” Vincent said. “I was amazed by the progress she was making in such a short time. I didn’t expect her to evolve so rapidly.”

“I think the care I gave to creating a space in which she felt safe was a key to the success of the protocol. I also involved her husband in the process, explaining the Polyvagal Theory in length, and teaching him the somatic exercises I was doing with her so they could do it together between sessions. She was very compliant in taking care of [herself] by going for walks, doing somatic exercises throughout the day and being patient,” he added.

“The psychiatrist could have broken the trust I had built, but luckily I had objective measures of her improvements [and] witnesses of her progress, and that saved the day. The psychiatric field being reluctant to [do] anything outside of the box in the country where she lives is hard to deal with, so I asked her before we started to tell her psychiatrist about the protocol and give my contact if necessary. (We didn’t have any contact.) A plus would be to have a psychiatrist who is Polyvagal-informed, as they can easily derail the intervention with their ‘authority.’ ”


Continue your learning

An auditory intervention developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the SSP restores the nervous system, and is designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience. Learn more.

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