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Case StudySSPAnxietyCo-RegulationTrauma & PTSD

Processing violent trauma with the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

🕑 3 minutes read
Posted September 28, 2023

About the Provider

Name: Taylor Hayden
Disciplines/credentials: Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)
Modalities: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Regulation Theory, Polyvagal Theory, mindfulness

Client Background

Name: Marvin (pseudonym)
Age and Gender: 32-year-old man
Program Delivered: Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Core (Hours 1-5); Balance (Hours 1 and 2)

Marvin presents with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and is withdrawn and highly anxious in new situations. He was taking two anti-anxiety medications, one of which was to be taken when he felt he was beginning to have a panic attack. He was taking this medication more than three times a week. He struggled to enter large stores without having a panic attack and noise from his children often made him anxious. Marvin’s wife accompanied him to therapy, as he did not feel comfortable going by himself. 

Marvin lives with his wife and two children, both under the age of five, in a stable home. He has a history of trauma, including having had a gun shoved at his face when he was a teenager.

Marvin struggled to feel like he could live a “normal life” due to his panic attacks. The treatment goal was to help him get to a place where he could go to larger stores without having a panic attack.

Implementation of the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

Marvin did his first session of the SSP with both his wife and his provider Taylor present. After the first session, he completed the SSP with his wife at home. Each listening session was 30 minutes. 

To support his listening, they used meditation, prayer and body scans. Marvin also continued checking in with his wife.


After completing the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), Marvin asked his wife to come with him to a large store. He was able to walk through the store for nearly an hour without going into a panic, although it left him feeling a little tired. 

After completing hour three of the SSP, he has only taken three pills of anti-anxiety medication, and now is only taking this medication once every other week. He shared that he felt more aware and grounded in life, not fearing panic attacks. He said, “I’m not going to say it was a cure, but I have my life back.”


“When the client said he wanted to experiment with going to some of the giant stores, especially on a Saturday around lunch when they are most packed, I was shocked,” Taylor said. They had been working toward this goal for about two months and Taylor was glad to see Marvin accomplish this after the SSP voluntarily. 

“Marvin’s ability to consider other aspects of his life beyond his fear was also a big sign of growth for me,” Taylor added. 

Taylor shared that he believed Marvin had been stuck in a dorsal vagal state due to not processing past trauma and not knowing how to feel safe. 

“I have learned that sometimes the ability to regulate may not be entirely under the client’s control,” Taylor said.

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