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by Colleen Benelli
First Published – Reiki News Magazine, Spring 2014.
REIKI IS ACHIEVING MAINSTREAM RECOGNITION for the powerful benefits it provides as a complimentary therapy to conventional medicine. A study done in 2007 by the National Health Interview Survey indicates that 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children 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 their hospital services. 1 The use of Reiki in conventional medicine has become even more popular as health care providers see the positive results Reiki pro-vides for improved patient care in their facility. This article offers a survey of the language most commonly used to define Reiki in hospitals and medical-related sites as well as longer descriptions of Reiki taken from a variety of reputable sources that interface with Reiki in medical settings. This information will be helpful to you if as a Reiki practitioner, you have chosen to offer Reiki within some area of conventional medical practice and would like to feel assured that you are communicating the essence of Reiki in language that will be understood as fully as possible. It may also prove useful if you have friends and family who would be more comfort-able with a neutral or more scientific description of Reiki. I have included the resources from my research for this article in case you want to do additional research.
It is important for Reiki practitioners and teachers to have clear explanations for Reiki when working in conventional healthcare systems. We need to be able to communicate the information about Reiki in a way that “will satisfy the critical thinking of doctors, hospital administrators, insurance executives and health care regulators.” 2 Because integrative medicine is fairly new to conventional medicine, there is little scientific documentation on the efficacy of many types of complimentary therapies and energy medicines such as Reiki, in large part due to a lack of clinical trials or laboratory studies. So it is even more important that we present Reiki professionally and with descriptions pertinent to the environment in which we are explaining it.
“In the hospital setting Reiki is presented as a technique which reduces stress and promotes relaxation, thereby enhancing the body’s natural ability to heal itself,” according to Patricia Alandydy, RN, Reiki Master and Assistant Director of Surgical Services at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 3 This explanation of Reiki, or a version of it, seems to be fairly common and effective.
Hospitals and medical facilities have different departments of care. In my research, I found that Reiki typically fits into the Integrative Medicine Department, the Mind Body Department, or the Spiritual Care Department. Reiki is mostly described as a complimentary therapy in these departments, as it is used as an adjunct to conventional medical treatments.
Here is some of the terminology that is useful to understand clearly when discussing Reiki in health care venues.
It is also useful to be able to describe the results medical institutions have found with the use of Reiki. The following websites give examples of the language the organizations use to describe the results of Reiki as a part of integrative medicine and complimentary therapies.
To find more results, simply type Reiki into the search bar of health care websites. This can provide you with valuable information about how the medical community for that particular illness or medical issue views Reiki.
Perhaps the leading resource for information about Reiki in health care systems is The Center for Reiki Research. In 2009, The Center for Reiki Research completed The Touchstone Project, which summarizes Reiki studies published in peer-reviewed journals. The 25 studies examined were further evaluated to determine the effectiveness of Reiki. The conclusion states: “Overall, based on the summaries of those studies that were rated according to scientific rigor as “Very Good” or “Excellent” by at least one reviewer and were not rated as weak by any reviewer, 83 percent show moderate to strong evidence in support of Reiki as a therapeutic modality.”17
The Center also provides a list of hospitals, medical centers and hospice programs where Reiki is offered for patients and staff. Each hospital listing offers detailed descriptions of the program including organization, number of practitioners and contact per-son(s) if provided. The basic facts of each program have been verified and approved by the hospital before they are listed on the website.18
The Center for Reiki Research has also developed the “Reiki in Hospitals PowerPoint Presentation”19 and has made it available to people who want to present a Reiki program to a health care administrator. It includes a description of Reiki, how a hospital Reiki program works, its benefits to patients and hospital staff, a list of prominent hospitals that have pro-grams and the research studies that support the therapeutic value of Reiki.
The following are excerpts from peer-reviewed articles written by nurses advocating Reiki as a complimentary therapy in oncology, hospice and urban health. These also offer effective descriptions of Reiki in health care.
“Oncology nurses are often on the cutting edge of new therapies and support coping, health, and healing. Reiki is a practice that is requested with increasing frequency, is easy to learn, does not require expensive equipment, and in preliminary research, elicits a relaxation response and helps patients to feel more peaceful and experience less pain.”20
“Reiki is a complementary, energy-based healing modality…. Reiki training offers a precise technique for tapping into healing energy, or Ki, and transmitting it through touch. Reiki treatments are gently balancing and provide energy that supports the well being of the recipient in a holistic and individualistic way…. Reiki is easily adaptable to nursing practice in a variety of set-tings, and can provide support for the practitioners of Reiki themselves, as well as benefiting those they treat with Reiki.”21
“Reiki is a vibrational, or subtle energy, therapy most commonly facilitated by light touch, which is believed to balance the bio-field and strengthen the body’s ability to heal itself. Although systematic study of efficacy is scant thus far, Reiki is increasingly used as an adjunct to conventional medical care, both in and out of hospital settings.”22
Additional peer-reviewed articles about Reiki and nurses are available at the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI). There are also excellent peer-reviewed articles for Reiki listed on the Center for Reiki Research website.23
I am a member of The Northwest Reiki Association, here in Portland, Oregon. This group is dedicated to bridging the local Reiki community with the medical community. We have established volunteer Reiki programs in three Compass Oncology Clinics, Providence Medical Center’s Inpatient Rehab Unit and OHSU/Tuality Oncology. There are currently over 250 members and volunteers. The president of the NWRA, Kathryn Misetich, trains the Reiki volunteers to use standardized Reiki practices in the professional and medical settings. The volunteers also must agree to follow the NWRA codes of ethics and conduct, dress codes and use the documentation forms provided by the clinic. The Reiki volunteers must have a minimum of Reiki Level II training in order to give Reiki to patients and must carry liability insurance.
The training for Reiki volunteers includes the appropriate description of Reiki, which they are asked to use consistently. The NWRA description of Reiki is: “Reiki is a safe, gentle, non-invasive healing technique. It complements any medical treatment by stimulating the body’s own natural healing process. Reiki carries no side effects, reduces stress and pro-motes deep relaxation.”
If asked, the volunteers inform the client that Reiki is “not a substitute for medical care; it is instead a valuable part of a wholesome wellness program.” They never diagnose, suggest changes in treatment or guarantee healing or complete recovery. Volunteers begin the Reiki sessions by activating Reiki privately. They do not draw symbols on their hands or in the room in front of clients. They don’t “process” the patients by dis-cussing their session or share any psychic impressions. They talk about Reiki in a neutral way, without talking about spirituality or energy medicine.
The NWRA volunteers document their Reiki sessions, and in 2012, “Patients experienced an 80% decrease in pain and a 91% decrease in stress, of those patients reporting pain and stress before and after Reiki treatment.” Some patients did not report any pain and/or stress before receiving Reiki so those were not included in these statistics. These statistics are described to the patients who are first learning about Reiki. 24
Reiki Masters Jacquie Hashizume and Gayle Hammitt started and currently run Reiki programs in the Mid Columbia Medical Center and the Celilo Cancer Center in The Dalles, Oregon. Their Reiki program was established through the Spiritual Care department of the hospital rather than the Mind Body department, so it is completely appropriate for them to talk about the spirituality of Reiki. They offer opening prayers before their sessions, and Gayle said she describes Reiki as “unconditional love and a gift from God.” This medical facility has a high regard for spirituality they offer beautiful meditation rooms and a labyrinth on their helicopter pad! However, Gayle and Jacquie agree that if Reiki were offered through the Mind Body department of the hospital, they might modify their description of Reiki to match that department.
Mary Thies created a Reiki program for The Providence Child’s Center for Medically Fragile Children in Portland, Ore-gon.25 She found that the mission statement for the child’s center and her mission for the Reiki program were the same. “Reiki as healing work reflects Providence’s central mission of revealing love for the most vulnerable through compassionate service. As a program of the Comfort Care Committee at the Providence Child Center, Reiki brings comfort, compassion and an improved quality of life to children residing at the center. [It is [t]he first of its kind within the context of a long-term pediatric residential facility.”26 The Reiki program has been so successful for the children that the Providence Center promotes the success of their Reiki program to other Child Centers through presentations at national Child Center conventions. Mary is paid by the center for her Reiki services.
Susannah Spanton has been a Reiki therapist for Heartland Hospice in the Philadelphia area for years. She is a contract employee and Reiki is part of the complimentary services offered by Heartland. I asked her how she described Reiki to the hospice patients and their families. She said, “My description with each family is unique depending on the family. I am more likely to explain it in detail to the family than to the client. When speaking with the older patients, I keep my description of Reiki very simple. I tell them that I have very warm hands that can bring them comfort, help them sleep and ease some of their pain.”
The information presented in this article will help you describe Reiki in the most accepted medical terminology so that you can present Reiki professionally. I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to research Reiki in medicine, realizing that Reiki is gaining more and more mainstream recognition in medical fields for the positive healing results it provides. There is clear evidence that Reiki is a complimentary therapy that benefits integrated medicine programs.
—Colleen can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 503.912.0664 or on her website, www.reikilifestyle.wpengine.com. You can also ask Colleen Reiki questions on her monthly ReikiChat™ calls, www.reikichat.com.
1. Center for Reiki Research, www.centerforreikiresearch.com.
2 .Pamela Miles, comment on LinkedIn, Reiki Professionals group,
4. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NCI), www.cancer.gov/dictionary?cdrid=449752.
5 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam.
9 Canadian Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.ca/en/region-selector-page/?url=%2fen%2f.
10 American Holistic Medical Association(AHMA), www.holisticmedicine.org/content.asp?pl=2&sl=43&contentid=43.
11 The Scientific and Medical Network. https://www.scimednet.org/.
13 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, www.nhpco.org/about-nhpco.
16 www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/living-with-advanced-ms/download.aspx?id=789 Guide for Families.
17 The Center for Reiki Research, Touchstone Project, Conclusion, www.centerforreikiresearch.org/RRConclusion.aspx.
20 L. M. Bossi, M. J. Ott and S. DeCristofaro, “Reiki as a clinical intervention in oncology nursing practice,” abstract, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18515247. Complete study: Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2008 Jun, 12(3):489–94. doi: 10.1188/08.CJON.489–494.
21 R. Gallob, “Reiki: a supportive therapy in nursing practice and self-care for nurses,” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14639776. Complete study: J N Y State Nurses Assoc. 2003 Spring-Summer, 34(1): 9–13.
22 P. Miles and G. True, “Reiki: review of a biofield therapy history, theory, practice, and research,” Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Mar–Apr, 9(2):62 –72. Source: Albert Einstein Center for Urban Health Policy and Research, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Colleen Benelli can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 503.912.0664, on her website at www.reikilifestyle.wpengine.com, or on her Facebook page, Reiki Lifestyle-Colleen Benelli. Join Colleen’s monthly ReikiChat™ conversation, www.reikichat.com.