Reiki Can Do No Harm or Can It?
Just as in any profession, there are many wonderful reiki professionals who do amazing work and many individuals receive the many benefits of reiki. However, there are also challenges. So, before I answer that question, I want to tell you a story.
The Back Story
I was teaching an anatomy and physiology class at a college in Boston. There was a section in one of the chapters talking about links to stress related illnesses and the benefits of meditation as a treatment option. I went on my normal tangents talking about how reiki, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies have benefits as well. I elaborated on each on what benefits, for what purpose and cited types of studies and research done.
I also discussed my professional experiences teaching and practicing meditation and reiki in a medical environment as well as how I teach them and why I teach them a certain way. I also discussed my volunteer work with trauma victims especially, but not limited to, domestic abuse survivors.
During break I had a few students inquire and ask questions about alternative therapies and about reiki in particular. At the time, I assumed their questions were out of curiosity.
A couple days later I received an email from one of my students through one of the websites I have written articles for. She wanted to know if reiki could help her because she was a survivor of child sex abuse and for the last 20 years everything she has tried has not helped her. She had tried reiki once before about 5 years ago, but she said it felt like “someone put voodoo” on her. She talked about the class and how what I said made sense to her. She wondered if “this reiki thing” could really help her to finally heal and move on with her life.
Why am I telling you this story?
This story is one of many stories of survivors of abuse having a negative experience with reiki. It did not matter if it was an alternative healing night, a referral from a psychiatrist or physician, or a student. The stories began to stack up as to why these individuals never sought reiki again until they met me. It always puzzled me, but also knew there was a reason even it I did not know it at the time.
|Laura’s students administering Reiki.
(c)2010-2014 All Rights Reserved.
So now back to the question. Reiki can do no harm or can it?
Reiki itself can do no harm. It is a Japanese energetic touch therapy with roots that go back to Ancient Tibetan Buddhist healing as do many other alternative therapies. Reiki works with the electrical conduction system of the human body, BUT with the wrong practitioner it may give the appearance it can do harm. The problem is not with reiki, but with the unqualified reiki person working with someone who has experienced trauma.
In the case of my student, the reiki worked. It was the lack of training or communication by the practitioner that caused the problem that exacerbated the healing crisis she felt making her feel as if “someone put voodoo” on her.
Sadly, over the years, I have seen too many well intentioned reiki practitioners take a 6-8hr workshop and want to profess their expertise in reiki. That is not reiki, but ego talking. If you are teaching this or have been taught that, there is a misconception, and it needs to change.
Working with trauma victims, requires more than just reiki training. You must know the clinical signs and symptoms of trauma and in my opinion, have some sort of clinical or medical training in one or many areas such as trauma, abuse, first aid and cpr, psychology, grief, post traumatic stress, etc.
There is a lot of scientific data research citing the many benefits of reiki as a treatment option especially for diagnoses such as anxiety and depression which tends to plague many victims, and speaking as a survivor of abuse myself, reiki DOES work.
Reiki is also used in medical offices and hospitals all over the country as part of an integrative therapy approach. Boston area hospitals that offer reiki as part of their programs include: Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana Farber and Brigham and Women’s. Nurses are also able to get CEUs. So you see reiki itself, has become a viable treatment options for many within the medical community.
A study done in 2007 by the National Health Interview Survey indicates that 1.2 million adults and 161,000children received one or more sessions of energy healing therapy such as Reiki in the previous year. According to the American Hospital Association, in 2007, 15% or over 800 American hospitals offered Reiki as part of hospital services.
Here is the challenge: I see so many well intentioned reiki teachers and practitioners exacerbating serious medical problems and shedding a negative light on the good reiki can do as viable healing modality by preaching that anyone can do reiki on anyone as reiki can do no harm. Again, it is not the reiki doing harm, but the unqualified reiki practitioner.
With an unqualified* reiki professional, a victim who already experiences fear, mistrust, and guardedness, these symptoms can significantly worsen.
A qualified reiki professional does the proper client intake, knows when the client is ready for actual healing to take place, there is proper communication between practitioner and client, and if healing crisis takes place a qualified practitioner knows what to do and knows where to refer the client if medical intervention or treatment is required.
With statistics such as, one in three women experience abuse in their lifetime, the chances a reiki professional will encounter a client with trauma is great. Domestic abuse has hit epidemic proportions in this country and is expected to remain steady until the economy improves, laws to protect victims are enforced and resources to organizations that work with victims are improved.
This is not taking into account other traumas from events such as our military servicemen returning from war or Hurricane Sandy or 9/11.
Of the 1.7 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 (20percent) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.[i] According to the VA, about one-in-five female veterans have post-traumatic stress related to “military sexual trauma”, a catch-all category that includes everything from sexual harassment to rape.[ii]
For 9/11 survivors, “at least 10,000 firefighters, police officers and civilians exposed to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder.”[iii]
“Statistics say that only 5% of those who survived 9/11 in New York City went on to experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But in the case of Hurricane Katrina, 33% later suffered symptoms. This is a very high percentage, even for an extremely traumatizing event.”[iv]
With these numbers and statistics, it is imperative, the manner in which reiki is utilized needs to be given much consideration.
The reiki practitioner who looks out for their client first, will set ego aside and do the right thing by referring those clients to a professional better qualified to work with those individuals.
If you have ever experienced some form of trauma in your life whether it be abuse, rape, natural disasters, loss, war, or the like, then please understand that not all reiki professionals are the same just like not all doctors or therapists are the same. Seek out a reiki professional with training or professional experience in the related fields you seek and ask questions.
As a reiki professional and a survivor of abuse, I can attest to you the many wonderful benefits reiki has to offer especially in healing issues surrounding abuse.
This article was intended to help educate both well intentioned reiki practitioner as well as educate the general public on why choosing the right reiki professional is critical to your overall health, healing and overall wellbeing.
If you have never experienced reiki before, I suggest you give it a try. I have personally witnessed the many benefits of reiki, which is why I have become so outspoken about this challenge. Just like anything else, understand not all reiki practitioners are trained alike or practice reiki alike. If you have a reiki story you wish to share related to this topic, I would really like to hear from you.
I sincerely hope the information given served as informative, beneficial, and healing.
Laura Healing With Spirit is a Registered Certified Medical Assistant, An accredited Shihan (teacher) in Jikiden Reiki, and Reiki Master Teacher in the Usui Tradition. She has over 15 cumulative years in the holistic and allopathic health fields and has incorporated energy medicine in her line of work since 2006.
With Laura’s diverse background, Laura has a very unique way of teaching and working with her clients than what is typically seen in mainstream reiki which is why many certified reiki practitioners opt to take her courses to better fulfill their personal or professional healing needs. Laura also has extensive training and experience working with trauma victims and domestic violence over the past 6 years. She has a keen sense of awareness when working with her clients that many chronic illnesses, major life events and past life challenges often appear as potential energetic blocks during reiki treatment sessions.
NPO- Jikiden Reiki Institute Member.
ICRT Reiki Membership Association – Affiliate Member
We are an Affiliate Member of ICRT, and follow a code of ethics, and standards of practice. Its purpose is to maintain a professional image for our members while at the same time preserving the spirit of Reiki and assisting members in creating a thriving Reiki practice. By becoming a member, we’ll be associating with an organization that has the reputation of providing accurate, up-to-date information on the history, practice, and scientific study of Reiki. Affiliate members must abide by the following requirements: Use ICRTclass manuals purchased from www.reikiwebstore.com when teaching Reiki I, II,ART, Master and Karuna Reiki® classes. One manual must be provided to each student. Abide by the RMA Code of Ethics. Abide by the RMA Standards of Practice. Place the RMA logo on member’s web site home page (if member has a website).Affiliate members must be Usui Reiki masters. Reiki training must have taken place with teacher in person. (no Internet, distant, CD, or book only training accepted). Contact us in Quincy, Massachusetts, to learn more about Reiki treatment for stress reduction, spiritual healing, and relaxation.
©2010-2014 Laura Healing With Spirit. All Rights Reserved. This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your specific medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional. Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns. Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.
[i] RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, Invisible Wounds of War, 2008
[ii] J. Kitfield, National Journal, 2011
[iii] Anemonia Hartocollis, 10 Years and a Diagnosis Later, 9/11 Demons Haunts Thousands, TheNew York Times, August 8, 2011.
[iv]by SusanneBabbel, Ph.D., MFT, Bridging the mind-body gap, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder After 9/11 and Katrina, Psychology Today; September 12,2011.
* An Unqualified Reiki Practitioner Defined: A person who may have taken a class(level of training in the class is paramount as there is no set guidelines for training), but may not have the experience or other subsequent training to handle those inflicted with trauma. Anyone without the bare minimum training equivalent to Reiki Level II (not done online) with hands on training and extensive experience working with people in reiki and/or trauma.
I agree. Reiki works and I have been fortunate to speak at a few conferences and/or events on the topic of reiki healing trauma associated with abuse. I understand too the mentality of some new reiki practitioners of being "intimidated". With that said, finding the RIGHT teacher matters. Also understanding that some may not be ready to face their traumas when they begin the healing process. With that said, it is the responsibility to know that sometimes you leave your hands off. The only times I have seen challenges in reiki, is when ego is dominant. It is never the… Read more »
Thank you laura for your contributions. It can be somewhat intimidating for newly born reiki practitioners to perform reiki without the fear of doing something wrong or substandard. While its true the more time involved in its practice generally leads to more experience & effectiveness, nonetheless quite often it tends to diversify & depend upon the person being initiated. Ive experienced level 1 practitioners whose light & capacity to radiate & dispense reiki was absolutely amazing in the sense of what should be for a beginner practitioner which is always predicated on their own innate receptive capabilities which is completely… Read more »
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