Interpersonal Neurobiology: The 4 S’s

Tuesday, Apr 18  •  


Lesle Dickey
Assistant Director of Programming

At Avalon Hills we provide nursing staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our nurses work as a cohesive team, which enables us to be fully present for the needs of our patients.

Over the past several years, our team has been fortunate to work closely with Dan Siegel, internationally-renowned expert in Interpersonal Neurobiology, to better understand the inner workings of our patient’s minds. Throughout our time with Dr. Siegel we have discussed in depth how we can foster a secure attachment with your loved ones. It is something that our nurses strive to achieve with each patient with all their interactions. When we concentrate on providing the environment for secure interpersonal connections, we use what Dr. Siegel calls the 4 “S’s.” We want our patients to feel Seen, Safe, Soothed, and Secure by all staff at Avalon Hills. Staff members can facilitate this in different ways based on their role on the treatment team. Each patient will connect with treatment team members on a different level. Our staff is diverse and able to make those connections with a variety of personalities, especially holding space for those who are struggling.


Let’s talk a little more specifically about the guiding principle of the 4 S’s

Seen: To truly be seen, we strive to go beyond seeing a person with just the eyes. We want to be in tune with understanding the feelings that the patient may be experiencing. We take care in getting to know who the patient is, where she wants to go in her future and what her true values are.

Safe: We as a nursing department try to eliminate any situation that may frighten or slow the progress of any patient. This includes a lot of talking and teaching with medical situations that someone has not experienced previously. Many patients may need to have additional cardiac testing, a dexa scan, or a variety of other medical studies after their admission and that can be scary and\or overwhelming for them if they are not familiar with what will happen with that particular test. The nurse’s role is to ensure that patients are able to understand what is happening in their care.

Soothed: At times, the nurse is the choice of the patient to be a listening ear and support. The nursing staff do their best in those situations to help the patient deal with difficult emotions that come up and provide comfort.

Secure: Well-being is defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy and/or happy. At Avalon Hills our staff strives to help patients acquire the skills that will help them to develop an internalized sense of well-being and seek out the things in their lives that will help them to maintain that state. A sense of security is one of the things that is important for each of us in our lives.

When the Avalon Hills program uses the 4 “S”s (Seen, Safe, Soothed, and Secure), to help the patient facilitate growth in relationships, it helps give the boost they need to move through the barriers to long-term recovery. Through our relationship with Dr. Siegel our team is being challenged and nurtured as we gain knowledge and skills to help each patient, meeting her exactly where she is at that moment.Relationships are curative and we hope to facilitate each patient reaching her potential, making what has seemed impossible a reality.

Tags: Safe | Seen | Soothed