First Bite #137 – February 23, 2021

Polyvagal Theory and Practical Implications for Therapy

(.1 ASHA and AOTA CEUs) For more info, click here.

Course Description

In this episode, Michelle is joined by the world-traveling Dillen Hartley OTR/L, a graduate of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and owner of Advanced Therapy Solutions, Inc., Greenville, SC.  In this hour, Dillen sheds light on the polyvagal theory and how this theory, which most of us haven’t heard of, impacts the patients that we evaluate and treat Monday through Friday!  If you have a patient that has a past medical history of PTSD, ADD, ADHD, ASD, (and the list goes on), and they are struggling to attend and regulate, did you know that it could be a direct result of an impairment or delay in their fear response, emotional regulation, and social connection, as driven by the function of the vagus nerve? Microphone drop! Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this, Dillen is here to enlighten and inspire while he gives you the evidence behind the polyvagal theory.


By the end of this PodCourse, participants will be able to identify and describe:

  • What the polyvagal theory is and how it correlates to speech therapy.
  • Three ways that the polyvagal theory impacts patient behavior.
  • Three strategies to incorporate the polyvagal theory into therapy and home-exercise programs.


Dillen Hartley, OTR/L

Dillen Hartley, OT graduated from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, school of Occupational Therapy in 1995 and moved to the USA in 1996. He is co-owner of Advanced Therapy Solutions, Inc, an outpatient Physical and Occupational Therapy practice serving adult and pediatric clients in six locations and multiple schools. Mr. Hartley has 23 years of clinical experience and is trained in multiple treatment approaches with both adults and pediatrics. Hr. Hartley’s interests are in the areas of trauma, autism, development disorders, SPD, ADHD and learning difficulties in infants, children and adults.

Mr. Hartley is a trainer for Interactive Metronome and has served in their Clinical Advisory Board for 10 years. He and is also a certified trainer in the Integrated Listening Systems and is frequently asked to present his views and treatment approaches in Occupational Therapy treatment of children both nationally and internationally. In addition, Mr. Hartley has served on several Non-Profit Boards including, The South Carolina OT Association, Greenville Tech OTA Program (5 years) and is the Founder and Chairman of the Institute for Development and Learning, a non-profit organization dedicated providing Speech Therapy, Feeding Treatment, GROW Academy and parent support programs.