“Francine Shapiro’s discovery of EMDR is one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of psychotherapy. Having used it as part of my practice for the past 15 years, I, and many of my patients, still marvel at the depth and speed with which it can help heal and change the minds and brains, and even bodily symptoms of people who have been locked in, and suffering from trauma, often for decades,” writes author, Dr. Norman Doidge.
“I did what’s probably the largest NIH-funded study on EMDR. And we found that, of people with adult-onset traumas, a one-time trauma as an adult, that it had the best outcome of any treatment that has been published … even in the most biased studies, the EMDR keeps coming up as this very effective treatment,” says Bessel Van der Kolk in a public radio interview in 2013.
Following a hurricane in Mexico, Lucy Arrigas and Ignacio Janero developed the Butterfly Hug in Mexico in order to work with groups of children. Francine Shapiro writes: The Butterfly Hug “has since been used all over the world to help increase the positive feelings of a safe place.”
The Butterfly Hug is one of many techniques used to activate both the left and right sides of the brain. The activation of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain is called, Bilateral Brain Stimulation. In her book, “Getting Past Your Past,” Dr. Shapiro recommends crossing “your arms in front of you with your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right. Then, you tap your hands alternately on each shoulder slowly four to six times.”
Dr. John Omaha, creator of “Affect Centered Therapy,” says that he demonstrates the Butterfly Hug to clients without emphasizing any particular speed and pressure of the tapping. He said he figures that each client will find the best rate and strength of touch that works for them.
Francine Shapiro suggests another technique to activate both sides of the brain: “alternate tapping your thighs (with the tips of your right index finger, then left index finger) at the same slow speed for the same for length of time (as she suggests above for the Butterfly Hug).”
There are several other techniques to activate both sides of the brain that are part of “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,” often referred to by the initials – EMDR. One way to active the brain is to follow fingers, objects, or images with your eyes. Another way to activate both sides of the brain is to use sound that alternatively moves from the left earphone to the right earphone. It is possible to have a recording on your iPhone to do Bilateral Brain Stimulation.
Francine Shapiro is a psychologist from Pacific Grove, which is near Monterey, California, USA. Back in 1987, Francine was walking on a long wide path on the west side of the Stanford University Campus. There are a lot of rattle snakes under the large eucalyptus trees in that part of the Stanford Campus. She scans the eucalyptus trees from right to left, thinking about a traumatic incident that occurred earlier in Francine’s life. She notices when she thinks about the traumatic incident, she feels calm. Dr. Francine Shapiro is obviously a keen observer of human behavior – both others as well as herself. She realizes that something very important had just happened to her. Later, Francine notices some thoughts that make her feel afraid. She tries an experiment as she deliberately moves her eyes to the right and to the left. It works again! The anxious feeling goes away as a result of moving her eyes from side to side. EMDR was created!
EMDR is also used all over the world to resolve symptoms like poor sleep, anger, anxiety, and flashbacks of painful events. It is also used as a treatment technique by the Veteran’s Administration to treat soldiers returning home who show trauma symptoms. EMDR is used to treat psychological problems from robberies, earthquakes, and car accidents as well.
Dr. Daniel Amen writes that “EMDR is one of the most effective treatments I have ever personally seen as a psychiatrist.” There is a great deal of research supporting the effectiveness of EMDR to improve symptoms from events that people experience as traumatic. The changes made by EMDR to the physical brain can be seen in a brain scan called, Single-photon Emission Computer Tomography or a SPECT scan.
This SPECT scan uses a special camera to create a 3-D pictures of the brain that show how an organ such as the brain works, unlike other imaging techniques like X-ray that show the structures of our body. Dr. Amen goes on to write: “We have studied EMDR with SPECT imaging before, during, and after treatment. EMDR is brain treatment. EMDR changes brain function.”
EMDR is a therapy used by trained professionals. Yet, there are EMDR self-help techniques available to help you feel better and think more clearly. These ways to activate both sides of the brain are available to everyone. The book by Francine Shapiro called “Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy,” has clear instructions for everyone who wishes to use these EMDR techniques.
A Whole Brain State is when both the right and left cerebral hemispheres of the brain begin to work together. This is called hemispheric synchronization. Bruce Lipton writes that “in our normal waking consciousness, we tend to operate predominantly from our left hemisphere, the side of the brain preoccupied with logic. In contrast, the right hemisphere is associated with processing emotions. When the left hemisphere is dominant, we tend to overrule our emotional drives with logic and reason.” Neuroscientist, Dr. Jeffery Fannin, asserts that whole-brain function is a “gateway to higher consciousness.”
Please watch my brief video and learn how to do the Butterfly Hug.
Here is a description of the Butterfly Hug by Lucina Artigas and Ignacio Jarero:
The Butterfly Hug method was originated and developed by Lucina Artigas during her work with the survivors of Hurricane Pauline in Acapulco, Mexico, 1998 (Artigas, Jarero, Mauer, López Cano, & Alcalá, 2000; Boel, 1999; Jarero, Artigas, & Montero, 2008). The Butterfly Hug had become standard practice for clinicians in the field while working with survivors of man-made and natural catastrophes.
The “Butterfly Hug” (BH) is a self-administer Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) method (like the eye movement or tapping) to process traumatic material for an individual or for group work. Desensitization (self-soothing) is a reprocessing byproduct using the BH as BLS.
Instruction for the Butterfly Hug Method
Say, ‘Please watch me and do what I am doing. 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 hands cover the area that is located under the connection between the collarbone and the 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.
If you wish, you can interlock your thumbs to form the butterfly’s body and the extension of your other fingers outward will form the Butterfly’s wings.
Your eyes can be closed, or partially closed, looking toward the tip of your nose. Next, you alternate the movement of your hands, like the flapping wings of a butterfly. 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 is like clouds passing by.'”