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PodcastSSPEMDRPolyvagal Theory

Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Podcast: Episode 21 – EMDR, Polyvagal Theory and SSP for Trauma


Courtesy of the Safe & Sound Protocol Podcast and iLs Australia

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and how can it work alongside other therapeutic modalities to provide a Polyvagal approach to healing?

In collaboration with an expert panel of EMDR therapists and certified Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) providers, Unyte recently launched the Combined Delivery Guidelines for EMDR and SSP to help clinicians safely integrate the two powerful modalities together.

To share their professional insights, three of the guideline authors (all of whom are EMDRIA Approved Consultants and SSP providers) were featured on the latest episode of the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) podcast, where they discussed their approaches and experiences with clients using EMDR therapy and the SSP.

“My goal for today is to help listeners, both practitioner and layperson, learn more about the evidence-based EMDR therapy as well as discover how an integrated EMDR/SSP approach may offer an optimal pathway to wellness,” says podcast host Joanne McIntyre, OTR/L, MS (Psychology). This discussion builds on a previous episode highlighting how safety and connection from the SSP can support EMDR therapy.

Click play above to gain a deeper knowledge of EMDR therapy in trauma, the connection with Polyvagal Theory, and implementation alongside the SSP.

Key Topics Discussed in This Episode

  1. What is EMDR therapy?
  2. Current understanding of the role of bilateral stimulation
  3. How traumatic memories are stored in the brain
  4. The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model
  5. EMDR and Polyvagal Theory: a bottom-up understanding of how the body needs to feel safe
  6. Implementing the SSP in the EMDR triphasic approach to trauma
  7. Using the SSP during Phase 8 to consolidate gains
  8. Recommendations and considerations for EMDR therapists and SSP providers

Combined Delivery Guidelines: SSP + EMDR
Download a free excerpt and learn how the SSP can empower therapists to support safety in Phase 2 of EMDR.

By integrating SSP, EMDR therapists are equipped to help cultivate a foundation of safety at the nervous system level, giving their client greater capacity to engage in re-processing and therefore, healing.


How the SSP supports EMDR therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an evidence-based modality that has been shown to be effective in supporting clients who have experienced trauma, or who present with conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) breaks down EMDR therapy into eight phases:

  1. History and Treatment Planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body Scan
  7. Closure
  8. Re-evaluation

In Phase 2: Preparation, the therapist works with the client to provide psychoeducation and prepare techniques together to help the client cope with what may arise throughout therapy. A key variable to the success of EMDR therapy hinges on access to adaptive information and experiences of safety, but for those with experiences of complex trauma, typical exercises of Phase 2 can be painfully inaccessible.

Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, author of the Polyvagal Theory, the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a non-invasive, acoustic vagus nerve stimulator designed to reset the nervous system and return it to safety, allowing for better client engagement when used alongside other therapeutic modalities such as EMDR therapy.


About the Speakers

Jillian Hosey, MSW RSW, is a Clinical Social Worker and Trauma Therapist in a collaborative private practice, treating people struggling with complex trauma and dissociative disorders. She is a founding partner of the Healing Therapy Alliance (HTA) and the Psychosomatic Trauma Initiative in Toronto, which offer collaborative, team-based approaches to healing grounded in neuroscience and trauma-specific, evidence-informed practices.

Jillian is a Certified EMDR Therapist and EMDRIA Approved Consultant, and incorporates various treatment modalities including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Havening Techniques, NeurOptimal Neurofeedback, Deep Brain Reorienting, Polyvagal Theory, Attachment Theory, Clinical Hypnosis, and various theories/treatments of dissociation, parts work and ego-state modalities. She has presented on integrating the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) into EMDR Therapy at the Child and Adolescent Complex Trauma Conference 2019 and the SSP Gathering with Dr. Stephen Porges 2019.

Laurie M. Belanger, LCSWR, has been providing services to children, adults, and families for over 20 years in western New York, with a passion for serving the needs of families coping with multi-layered, complicated concerns.

Laurie has a background in trauma, sensory development, adoption, mental health and learning differences. She is an EMDR Consultant through EMDRIA, and was trained in TBRI®️ by the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. Laurie currently provides individual and family therapy in her private practice in East Amherst, NY. Her passion for sharing trauma education has led her to also providing training to school districts, foster care and adoption agencies, and to direct-service mental health providers. 

Eliza Fernandes has been practicing psychotherapy for 20 years with a clinical focus on trauma. She has worked with diverse populations, including adults with criminal charges, children and adolescents impacted by complex trauma, and couples with extensive trauma experiences. During her Master’s degree in Social Work, Eliza worked in a low-income community in Rio de Janeiro with youth in a peer-mentor program focused on ending partner abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. 

Eliza is now in private practice and practices evidence-based modalities for PTSD, dissociative disorders, anxiety, and depression. She is a Certified EMDR Therapist, an Approved EMDRIA Consultant and EMDR education provider. Eliza is also trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, DBR, Clinical Hypnosis, Ego State Therapy, Neuroptimal, AlphaStim, and Safe and Sound Protocol. 

Joanne McIntyre is an Occupational Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience. She completed her Master’s of Science, majoring in psychology, while residing in the U.S. for 23 years, during which she founded a therapy practice including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and psychologists, in addition to being an instructor for Integrated Listening Systems.

Joanne pursued specialty training in various clinical interventions and treatment programs that identify and address the underlying neurological causes of state regulation, learning and behavior, versus focusing on symptomology. Her training included Board Certification in Neurofeedback and Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback training, Neurodevelopmental (NDT), SIPT Certification, Interactive Metronome and Advanced iLs Pro training, EMDR, and Intro IFS training.

Joanne returned to Australia in 2015 and is Clinical Director of Integrated Listening Australia, providing practitioner training and clinical support to clinicians and families in the SSP, Focus System, Pro-System and iom2. Joanne commenced PhD studies at La Trobe University within the School of Psychology and Public Health, investigating the neurobehavioral underpinnings of the Safe and Sound Protocol intervention developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, supported by the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC).

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