In the therapy room: The Butterfly Hug Grounding Technique

What do we see when a butterfly flies passed on a summers day? do we see the journey they have taken to become, the changes that have taken place to create such beautiful creatures?

The Butterfly Hug

Over the years, when working with clients who have experienced trauma, or anxiety, I have found the butterfly hug grounding technique to be really useful. The concept comes from bilateral stimulation, and has its roots in EMDR processes for trauma. The original concept came from Lucina Artigas and Ignacio Jarero (2013) while working with people who had experienced trauma, in particular, survivors of manmade or natural disasters.

It isn’t for everyone, so I suggest you try it and see how it feels, and practice the technique, so that if you need to ground yourself, the tool is available to you without having to try and remember what to do.

Instructions for the Butterfly Hug Technique for Grounding

Cross your arms over your chest, so that the tip of your middle finger from each hand is placed below the clavicle or the collarbone and the other
fingers and hands cover the area that is located under the connection between the collarbone and your shoulder and the collarbone and sternum or breastbone. Hands and fingers must be as vertical as possible so that the fingers point toward the neck and not toward the arms.
Interlock your thumbs to form the butterfly’s body and the extension of your other fingers outward will form the Butterfly’s wings.
It is up to you if you prefer to keep your eyes closed, or partially closed, looking toward the tip of your nose.

Now alternate the movement of your hands, like the flapping wings of a butterfly, letting your hands move freely. Breathe slowly and deeply (abdominal breathing), while you observe what is going
through your mind and body such as thoughts, images, sounds, smells, feelings, and physical sensation without changing, pushing your thoughts away, or judging.

You can pretend as though what you are observing is like clouds passing by. The average amount of taps is between 6 and 8, but please feel free to find your most comfortable amount, or just complete the tapping without paying attention to the amount.

The Butterfly Hug Technique for installing a Safe/Calm space.

In other posts I have talked about creating your safe space as a visualisation you can use to help calm or ground yourself. You can also implement the butterfly hug technique to install a safe/calm space into your memory to make it easier to access when you feel the need.

Close your eyes and use your imagination to take you to the place where you feel calm and safe. Bring into your awareness what colours, sounds and senses you see in your safe space.

Repeat the Butterfly Hug 6-8 times while you concentrate on your
safe or calm place.

As an extra part of the process, you can, if you wish, draw the Safe/Calm place that you imagined. When you have finished, look at your drawing while repeating the butterfly hug technique 6 to 8 times. Looking at the drawing can be used in the future alongside the hug technique to help you to feel grounded.

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