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Reiki Expanding in Healthcare Settings

In recent years, reiki has become more prominent in healthcare settings and has steadily been gaining acceptance in mainstream medicine. For example, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, has developed one of the largest reiki programs in the country, utilizing the services of more than 60 volunteer reiki practitioners to provide sessions for patients.

Yale New Haven Health, Lehigh Valley Hospital and Penn Medicine are just a few of the many hospitals that offer reiki sessions to patients undergoing cancer treatments. Reiki is the perfect complement to traditional medical care as there are no contraindications to its use and it integrates easily into a patient’s plan of care. 

Sharon Yeskel, a reiki master for Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center, in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, New Jersey,notes, “A reiki treatment can be very effective in not only lessening pain, but also in the perception of pain. For example, a patient reporting a pain level of 10 before a reiki treatment may report a level five after the treatment. Another patient’s pain level may not change at all, but because the patient feels so relaxed, there is a change in the perception of the pain, and the pain is more tolerable.”

  Recently, the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies healthcare organizations in the United States, initiated new requirements to address the escalating opioid crisis. One of those standards requires that hospitals provide “nonpharmacologic pain treatment modalities.” This new ruling has the potential to bring evidence-based holistic practices like reiki to even more accredited healthcare organizations.

Reiki research is an ongoing area of study and an important component in bringing the system into traditional health care. The Center for Reiki Research has determined that the reiki studies done thus far are trending towards effectiveness with chronic pain management, decreasing stress, depression and practitioner well-being.

Presenting reiki in a professional and realistic way is imperative to its introduction into health care. The National Institute of Health defines reiki as a “complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating the person’s own healing response.”

Reiki is based on the belief that there is an energy within and around the body. When this energy is balanced, it encourages a state of harmony resulting in physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The Japanese word “reiki” is interpreted as “spiritual energy” or the life force within and around us. This spiritual energy can also simply be described as the energy of pure love. With presence, mindfulness and compassion, the reiki practitioner sets an intention to allow this energy to flow where it is needed most for the client.

Reiki can either be done with gentle touch or with the practitioner’s hands slightly off the body in a series of hand positions around the head, upper chest, abdomen, knees and feet. Non-invasive and experiential, with no manipulation by the practitioner, patients often describe an enhanced state of relaxation and a feeling of inner peace and calm. It is in this state of relaxation that the body can bring itself back into balance and allow healing to take place.  

Patients become active participants in their healing process when they choose to have a reiki session. This simple act gives them a sense of empowerment in a setting where they frequently have very few choices. Reiki in health care provides an empathetic connection, conscious compassion and allows for a nurturing, caring and healing environment.


Helene Williams, BSN, RN, is a graduate teacher of The International House of Reiki.  She has more than 10 years of experience providing reiki sessions in a hospital setting and also has a well-established private practice where she provides sessions and teaches classes. She is the founder and president of the Lancaster Community Reiki Clinic. For more information, call 717-269-6084, email or visit

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