A Community of Heart Profile: Ignacio Jarero



What provides the impetus for us to choose the paths that we take?

For Ignacio “Nacho” Jarero, his drive to care for othersʼ came from the influences in his early childhood. Nachoʼs father, Jose Jarero, began his career as a surgeon in emergency medicine in Mexico City. He was so dedicated hat when his patients needed a hospital, he learned the requisite skills required and built one. He married Eloisa Mena Jarero, after meeting her in her fatherʼs bakery. Eloisa was the homemaker and disciplinarian, and raised her 4 children. Jose formed a construction company while he worked as a surgeon. Since Nacho was 8 years old, his father took him to remote construction sites for the roads and dams he built throughout Mexico. These adventures prepared Nacho for his later work when he lived in difficult conditions with no water and “room” meant living in a tent.

For 19 years, Nacho lived with his family on the grounds of his fatherʼs hospital. During that time, he learned how to alleviate human suffering by observing the daily workings of the hospital and by the Catholic education he received from the La Salle religious community.

Nacho followed the engineering path of his father. In 1975, he earned his first degree in Civil Engineering from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. As a civil engineer, he worked throughout Mexico in the most difficult conditions. By 1980, his business was growing and he completed post graduate work in Business Administration at the Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresas. He organized his own construction company and became an entrepreneur, like his father.

Although Nacho was successful in his work, he wanted a more meaningful existence. At 35 years, he had a crisis, divorced his wife of 12 years, and went in search of a higher purpose. It happened when he was 40 and attended a one-year seminar on Psycho Corporal Therapy at the Universidad Intercontinental that highlighted different bodywork approaches such as Bioenergetics, Gestalt, Primal Therapy, etc., and included personal work.

During this seminar, he met a woman who changed his life. Her name was Lucina Artigas and she was an Architect. For Nacho, it was love at first sight and he proposed three times before the more cautious Lucy said, “Yes!” They decided to pursue their dream to alleviate human suffering while continuing their original careers. They enrolled in Instituto Mexicano de la Pareja and were granted their MAs in Psychotherapy in 1995. They treated clients under supervision. They knew they had made the right choice.

In 1997 -at a conference in Mexico City- Judy Jones told Nacho and Lucy about EMDR. They took her unauthorized EMDR training (they were unaware of this). During this year, Hurricane Pauline ravaged the west coast of Mexico. When Nacho and Lucy saw the news, they wanted to help. Since Nachoʼs father had a hotel and political connections in Alcapulco, they went immediately with Teresa Lopez Cano (Mexico City). Judy Jones contacted Judy Albert of the Red Cross, and Judith Boel from Canada. The Mexican government sent them to work at the House of Culture in Acapulco. The first day they expected a few people, instead, more than 200 survivors arrived; the Mexican government had sent cars with amplifiers announcing help on certain days!

The team members were in shock! What to do with that many people? Furthermore, “the Judys” did not speak Spanish! So, they improvised!

Judy Jones recorded names and ages of survivors while Judy Albert helped to prevent compassion fatigue for the team. Judith Boel, Teresa, Lucy and Nacho helped the survivors create safe places.

All of a sudden, Lucy stopped. She looked at all the women and children and knew they had no money and they would be unable to repeat the herculean effort they had made to come. She thought, “We have only one shot! Oh my god, help me! I need to give these people something.” It was at that moment that she said those world-changing words: “Put your hand on your chest and put the other hand on the other side of your chest and just tap back and forth.” The Butterfly Hug was born! For this significant contribution, Lucy received the EMDRIA Creative Innovation Award (2000).

Nachoʼs team persevered, despite the heart-wrenching suffering around them, and stayed in Acapulco for 15 days. A week later, A week later, four of the team members travelled 2 hours to find a school they had heard about. They found the school flooded and the children and teachers sitting under a mango tree. Because there were no pencils, crayons or paper, Lucy had the children think about the worst part of the hurricane and draw it in the sand with their fingers. They then did the Butterfly Hug. Afterwards, they erased the picture with their fingers and drew the next picture that came to mind; they did this 3-4 times until the fear and bad memories disappeared. Through the creativity of Lucy and the help of the team, the EMDR Integrative Group Therapy Protocol (IGTP) was created. Later, when they got supplies, the children used paper and crayons for their pictures.

The results were astounding! They watched the process of EMDR unfold in front of their eyes as the children first showed their distress and terror and then as the later pictures developed, the pain and suffering decreased until the children said that the pictures were done and they wanted to go out to play! Teresa then said to the children, “Letʼs march! (more bilateral stimulation)!”

Nacho exclaimed, “The childrenʼs faces of terror left so quickly! It was magic in front of our eyes!” They took photographs and kept the drawings. Nacho and Lucy knew that it was during this experience that their lives changed irrevocably.

After they witnessed “the miracle,” Lucy, Teresa, Nacho and Nicté Alcalá refined Lucyʼs ideas. Over the next 10 years, as a part of their disaster response, they gathered data, took pictures and films until the protocol evolved in to the actual EMDR-IGTP published in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Scripted Protocols: Basics and Special Situations (Luber, 2009). Currently, this work is used to treat survivors of disasters all over the world.

Also, they decided to change the nature of their practices and dedicate themselves to humanitarian, trauma and emergency response work. In 1999, through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, Nacho became Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress (Diplomate) and in Emergency Crisis Response. He also was granted his Ed.D. in Advanced Social Psychology from the Atlantic International University (1998), his Ph.D. in Psychology from Pacific International University (2000) and his Master Traumatologist degree from the University of South Florida (2003). Now, Nacho teaches worldwide and has authored articles on his work that appear in the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research and the Traumatology Journal.

Nacho and Lucy found Jeffrey Mitchellʼs and George Everlyʼs International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) and became Certified Trainers (2000). In 1998, they took the EMDR Basic Training –the authorized version- through the EMDR Institute with John Hartung but did not agree, to become Facilitators when asked after the training. At the time, they did not realize the importance of this invitation. However, they did sponsor more EMDR trainings in Mexico believing that the need for trauma work training in Mexico was enormous.

Several years later, John asked them again to become Facilitators and this time they accepted! Under the “gentle but very orthodox” tutelage of John, they went on to become Trainers. With Johnʼs skillful instruction, they learned how to teach EMDR so that practitioners could absorb it and were motivated to use it. Francine Shapiro invited them to her Trainersʼ Training at Sea Ranch. Despite their anxiety and the challenges of the training, Lucy and Nacho were approved (2004) and later became Trainers of Trainers (2008), as well as EMDRIA (2003) and EMDR Iberoamerica Approved Consultants and Approved Instructors for Advanced EMDR Trainings (2008). Nacho and Lucy are also certified Compassion Fatigue Therapists and Educators through the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology (2004).

Since then, their lives are an ongoing series of events, disasters, events, trainings, clinical work, writing articles and collecting data. In 1998, they founded the Mexican Association for Mental Health in Crisis, a non-profit private organization whose members are mental health professionals trained in the prevention and treatment of traumatic stress. As leader of the Association Trauma–Treatment team, Nacho volunteers their time and expertise to disaster survivors in Mexico, Europe, and Central and South America. They also train emergency personnel to identify and prevent compassion fatigue and continue supportive services after the team leaves. Recently, World Vision International asked him to go to Haiti after the recent earthquakes as part of a multinational staff care team as a mental health and compassion fatigue advisor.

For his dedication, expertise and perseverance in the face of adversity Nacho and Lucy received the EMDR Iberoamerica Francine Shapiro Award (2007), and the EMDR Colombia, Jaibaná Award for Humanitarian Work (2009). Also Nacho received the Argentinean Society of Psychotrauma (ISTSS Affiliate), Trajectory in the Field of Psychotrauma Award (2008) and the ICISF International Crisis Response Leadership Award (2009). When asked what he would like to say to the EMDR community, he said the following:

Based on my field experience, EMDR during Early Psychological Interventions in the worst-case scenarios is an effective and efficient intervention…and also a blessing for the clients and the therapist.

Ignacio Jarero thinks of himself as a lay missionary and a man who spent the first 40 years of his life preparing for his actual mission: to prevent and/or alleviate human suffering provoked by psychological trauma. He actualizes his mission through teaching EMDR, Critical Incident Stress Management and Compassion Fatigue Education; working in the field with survivors of disasters; and through his daily work in his private practice. It is through Nacho, Lucy and their teamʼs effort that the work of EMDR practitioners and the lives of disaster survivors treated with their EMDR group protocol have been, are, and will be transformed.

I know that Nacho is sending Butterfly Hugs to all of us and we send them back to him!


“A Community of Heart Profile: Ignacio Jarero,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 15, 2024, https://francineshapirolibrary.omeka.net/items/show/7664.

Output Formats