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Case StudySSPADHDPolyvagal Theory

Moving away from anger and relational issues toward harmony with the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

🕑 4 minutes read
Posted June 26, 2023

About the Provider

Name: Ed Bostick
Psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, coach
Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, CliftonStrengths Gallup-certified coaching, Internal Family Systems (IFS), Gestalt Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), hypnotherapy, trauma-informed therapy, medical support hypnotherapy, pain management, neuro-linguistic programming, coming to wholeness protocol, Somatic Experiencing®, Eye Movement Integration (EMI), Jungian dream analysis

Client Background

Name: PJ (pseudonym)
Age and Gender: 37-year-old man
Program Delivered:
Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Core (Hours 1-5)

PJ presents with ongoing anger issues and has an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. He was homeschooled from seventh grade through high school. He has relationship issues with family members and broke up with his girlfriend of three years two months before beginning treatment. He has feelings of remorse and regret about the recent breakup. 

At the time of treatment, PJ was 35 years old and living and working as a freelance property broker in the greater Boston area. His previous treatment history included school counselors and child-adolescent therapists.  

PJ was referred to Ed by his mother, who is a psychiatric nurse. Treatment goals included affect regulation, anger management, pain management, anxiety relief and behavioral therapy.

Implementation of the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

The SSP was delivered remotely in one-hour listening sessions for five consecutive days. Psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, somatic processing and a trauma-informed approach were also taken. Polyvagal Theory was taught and discussed throughout the course of treatment beginning in 2021.


PJ participated in the following pre- and post-program Unyte Assessments

  • Unyte SSP intake form for adult clients
  • Brain Body Center Sensory Scales (BBCSS)
  • Body Perception Questionnaire (BPQ)
  • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)
  • PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) 

Pre-program assessments were administered one day before beginning the SSP and post-program assessments were administered one day after finishing the SSP. 

Before his first session, PJ was feeling alone. He was apprehensive about an upcoming visit with a sibling and had memories of generally “rude people,” childhood bullying and back pain. He had a desire to achieve harmony at work with his boss, mentors and friends, and hoped for individuation from his family’s influence. 

Throughout his listening sessions, PJ felt he had a “mainline to his subconscious.” At the end of each session, he was exhausted as he felt “the rewiring of new circuits being formed.” The SSP made him think about PTSD in a different light, gaining insight into his feelings and understanding “how he works.” The SSP helped him put the question of “how I perceive myself’ into the context of his past experiences of being bullied as a young kid, moving away from an omniscient point of view. He reported feeling more centered and grounded; his subconscious and his conscious self were “in sync.” 

After completing the SSP, PJ felt he could “handle more” in anticipation of visiting with his sibling and talking with his mom and dad. He did have a fantasy about what his family “should be,” but felt more in control when anticipating an upcoming visit with family members. After three days, PJ reported being clearer in his intentions to mend fences with family members. PJ reported that he still felt lonely and that he needed people to “steer him by providing guidance sometimes.” He shared, “The SSP has blown the lid off; everything is in one big room, bouncing around.”

The next time PJ met with Ed, he reported that his fear was gone. His anger was now constructive and energizing, motivating him to want to figure things out with family and colleagues at work. 

PJ shared, “I have a sense I need to refocus my energy. The walls have been knocked down. I got out of my own way. I need to digest ‘it’ (the SSP experience) and come out with a proper response. I want to be someone who people can rely on, by being consistent, honest and faithful. I need to listen to myself.


Ed continues to see PJ weekly. He presents as a thoughtful, grounded adult. In self-reporting, he is not without challenges, but is better able to respond appropriately to others in the moment. He articulates personal and career goals much more coherently and realistically, and desires to make amends with family, friends and work colleagues. 

His impression of significant people in his life is that they are cautiously optimistic that he is better at self-regulating and self-monitoring his behavior in the context of others’ reactions. His recriminatory self-talk has diminished and is less harsh than before starting treatment. PJ seems better able to put events in the context of the moment rather than blowing them out of proportion and “beating himself up” for unintentional slights aimed at others.   

Ed also adds, “The SSP was a necessary and integral part of the client’s overall treatment plan. Client’s self-reported ability to tolerate real and imagined injustices, social situations and work situations, and family encounters increased.” 

Using the Likert scale format in Unyte Assessments, PJ’s scores generally moved one step in the desired direction when analyzing pre-program compared to post-program assessments. 

“This information was very helpful to guide client sessions and to corroborate statements made by my client,” Ed said.

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