Integrative Therapies

Reiki: Your Questions Answered

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By Henry Ford Health System Staff

Reiki is a type of complementary healing therapy that originated in Japan. More recently, it has become popular in the United States, particularly for patients who are seeking a gentle healing therapy that doesn’t require medication.

“Practitioners believe reiki can benefit almost anyone,” says Kathryn Glad, LMT, a licensed massage therapist at Henry Ford Health System. “It can be a great addition to Western medicine and works safely with prescription drugs, surgery and medical procedures.”

FAQ: Reiki Therapy

Reiki is a Japanese word that translates to “universal life energy.” It is not attached to any religion or specific belief system, but rather is a specific form of so-called energy work designed to enhance healing.

Here, Glad answers your frequently asked questions about this mystical therapy.

Q: What is reiki?

A: Reiki is a Japanese form of stress reduction and relaxation that practitioners say promotes healing. The idea is that energy flows from the practitioner’s hands into the client. It’s that energy that creates the relaxation and healing effect.  

Q: What happens during a reiki session?

A:  Your practitioner will invite you into a private room and ask you about any particular issues you would like to address. Then you will lie fully clothed on a massage table or sit in a chair. In most cases, the practitioner will ask you to take a few deep, relaxing breaths before the session starts. A typical session runs between 30 and 60 minutes during which practitioners gently place their hands on or slightly above your body as they travel from head to toes (or toes to head) with the intention of moving energy.

Q: What can I expect to feel during a reiki session?

A: During the session, you might notice a warming sensation in certain areas. In other areas, you might not notice anything at all. Even if you come in with a particular problem area, you may experience a sense of relaxation that affects your whole body. You might even fall asleep during the session! 

Q: How will I feel after a reiki session?

A: Every person who tries reiki has a different experience. Your experience from session to session can vary as well. Many people report feeling a sense of calm in their bodies. Others report reduced pain or a clearer mind. Some people say they notice old symptoms resurfacing in a sort of “healing reaction,” but those symptoms pass quickly. 

Q: Which conditions respond to reiki?

A: Many people turn to reiki to relieve stress and anxiety. Practitioners also say that the therapy helps support the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Some healthcare professionals think that reiki helps reduce the side effects of drugs and radiation and may even reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications.

Q: Is there anyone who should avoid reiki?

A: No. It’s a gentle therapy that’s safe for anyone, including babies and seniors.

Q: How do I find a qualified practitioner?

A: While there are various certifying bodies for reiki, there are no minimum standards practitioners need to achieve. Your best bet is to find someone you feel comfortable with and can trust. Before you book your first session, ask questions: Which style do they use? Where did they learn to do reiki? How long have they been practicing?

Related Topic: What is Cupping Therapy?

Healing Energy

Reiki comes from the idea that we all have our own healing energy and when it becomes weak or blocked, physical and emotional imbalance can develop. Reiki practitioners believe they can help restore that balance.

“Reiki has grown in popularity because it’s gentle,” Glad says. “It works in harmony with both conventional and complementary therapies.” 

Interested in booking a session? Come in with an open mind and heart, Glad says.  

For more information about reiki, massage therapy or other integrative medicine programs or to make an appointment, visit HenryFord.com/CIM.

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Kathryn Glad is a board-certified, licensed massage therapist with experience in both clinical and spa settings. She offers a variety of massage styles designed to fit each patient’s unique needs, and her specialties include deep tissue, prenatal, oncology, aromatherapy, Thai, Swedish and reflexology.