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Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Podcast: Episode 24 – Stress Model and Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)

Courtesy of the Safe & Sound Protocol Podcast and iLs Australia

In this episode of the Safe and Sound Protocol Podcast, host Joanne McIntyre speaks with Michael Romeo, clinical psychologist, about Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) and his experience with the SSP.

FND is a neurological-somatic condition with an unknown cause. There is disconnection between the brain and body due to disruption in the sending and receiving of signals related to memory, concentration, emotions, cognition and motor functions. FND is often triggered by bio-psycho-social factors, including childhood trauma, interpersonal stress or illness (NINDS, 2022).

“This is such a rich discussion, as not only is Michael an expert on FND but has lived experience,” Joanne says. Listen in for a wealth of information pertinent to both the practitioner and the individual who may be experiencing unexplainable neurological symptoms.

Key Topics Discussed in This Episode

  1. What is FND?
  2. The disconnection between the brain’s hardware and the brain’s software
  3. Diagnosis: the importance of accurate diagnosis, and the acceptance process
  4. Importance of engaging with therapy to reduce negative neuroplasticity
  5. The need for a team approach to FND (e.g. occupational therapy, physical therapy, yoga, psychology)
  6. The SSP for FND: Michael’s experience with the SSP
  7. And more

Continue reading: Neuromodulation using computer-altered music to treat 10-year-old unresponsive to standard interventions for FND

Published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry and co-authored by Dr. Stephen Porges and an expert medical and research team, this case study provides insight into the mechanism and impact of the SSP, specifically on a 10-year-old with FND who saw significant improvements from the SSP.

About the Speaker

Michael Romeo has been practicing as a clinical psychologist for over 20 years, beginning his career as an adolescent psychologist. He worked in Bali treating ex-patriates experiencing PTSD following the Bali Bombing in 2002, and has worked as an educator and supervisor for most of his career.

Michael lectured at Macquarie University for over 10 years and was the International Student Counselor at the University of Newcastle Counseling Service. Most of his career has focused on treating suicidal behaviours and complex trauma with EMDR, schema therapy, DBT and other strengths-based approaches. He currently works in private practice, where his primary clinical interest is treating Functional Neurological Disorders.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (2022). Functional Neurologic Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/functional-neurologic-disorder

About the Host Joanne McIntyre

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 Ph.D. 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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