Using the Butterfly Hug to help with acute ongoing distress

A guided walkthrough of how to do the Butterfly Hug to reduce ongoing acute distress.

The Butterfly Hug has been used in over 200 deployments by Dr Ignacio Jarero and his team in worse case crisis scenarios to reduce symptoms of severe distress and for clinician self care.

How to do the Butterfly Hug. 

Please follow these instructions carefully.

Cross your arms over your chest, so that the tip of the middle finger from each hand is placed below the clavicle or the collarbone and the other fingers and palms cover the area of the sternum or breastbone. Hands and fingers must be as vertical as possible so that the fingers point towards the neck and not towards the arms. Interlock your thumbs to form the butterfly’s body and the extended fingers form the butterfly’s wings.

Your eyes can be closed, or partially closed, looking towards the tip of your nose. Next, alternate the movement of your hands, like the flapping wings of a butterfly …but alternating …left, right, left, right…       at your own steady pace. Left-right-left-right… as if you are soothing a loved one…feel the vibration of the tap….that’s good…..

Let your hands move freely. You can breathe slowly and deeply (abdominal breathing),while you observe what is going through your mind and body such as thoughts, images, sounds, odors, feelings, and physical sensation without changing, pushing your thoughts away, or judging. You can pretend as though what you are observing are like clouds passing by.

Now let’s do the Butterfly Hug to process distressing material in 4 steps.

Step 1: Before evening dinner, or right after a distressing event, do the following with eyes open or partially closed, not totally closed.

Run a mental movie of the whole distressing event.  If you are doing this on a daily basis, for example if you are a front-liner helping people with the corona virus issue in a hospital or other settings, start from right before the beginning of the disturbance until today or even looking into the future for any distressing scenario you have imagined.

Step 2. Once you have finished running the mental movie, observe and notice your body. Not just observe, but really notice your body, scan your body for any disturbance.  This can be unpleasant or annoying emotions or physical sensations. Then assess your level of disturbance from 0, which is no disturbance, to 10 which is the maximum disturbance you can feel.

Step 3: Now start the Butterfly Hug while standing or sitting in a chair.  At the same time, pretend that you are marching at your own pace in time with the Butterfly Hug.

With your eyes open or partially closed, go over the mental movie again…continuously doing the Butterfly Hug and marching at the same time. At the end of the mental movie, stop the Butterfly Hug and the walking or marching in your own seat. Now breathe deeply twice. Again, breathe deeply twice.

Step 4:  Observe and notice your body, scan your whole body. Then assess your level of disturbance for unpleasant or annoying emotions or physical sensations, from 0, which is no disturbance, to 10 which is the maximum disturbance you can feel.

If your disturbance is 4, 5, 6 up to 10, repeat steps 3 & 4 until your disturbance reaches levels between 0,1,2 or 3.

Important note, if the distressing symptoms do not decrease or increase, immediately contact a mental health professional expert in trauma treatment.

Thank you very much for your attention and Butterfly Hugs for each one of you.