The Benefits of Reiki for Hospitalized Clients

St. Clair College
Directed Study 63-477
by Kelly Sabara

Kelly SabaraMy Reiki journey began in late August 2006. My best friend had discovered the Reiki-Do Natural Healing Center, a place where Reiki treatments were offered by two Reiki Practitioners and Teachers. She raved about her first experience getting Reiki and encouraged me to give it a try.

My first experience as a client was a back treatment, as I had been having pain in my lower back. At the time, I was also seeing a chiropractor and taking anti-inflammatory medication. They informed me that Reiki works with all other forms of health care and enhances their effects as well. I was a bit sceptical, but kept an open mind. After the treatment, my back pain was gone, and after a few more back treatments it stayed that way.

I began receiving regular Reiki treatments and discovered an immense interest in energy healing. I took my Level I Reiki course at the Reiki-Do Natural Healing Center. Eight months later, I took the Level II Reiki course, and the next year I became a Reiki Master Practitioners. Reiki and nursing are my two passions in life. I have been studying Reiki almost as long as I have been studying nursing and they fit extremely well together. I use Reiki every day, especially in nursing, and in any number of situations. Reiki has helped me to be more creative, more balanced, more relaxed and more aware of the world around me.

Reiki is inexpensive and is easy to learn and the whole notion of holistic healing is interesting (Bossi et al.). The purpose of this article is to explore what Reiki is and explain the benefits of using Reiki on patients in hospitals.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is subtle, vibrational energy therapy free of medical contraindications or side effects that "helps the body achieve or restore balance and harmony" (Horrigan & Miles, 2003, p 490). Rei is defined as ‘universal’ meaning ‘present everywhere’ and Ki is defined as ‘life force or vital energy’ (Bossi et al., 2008). Reiki promotes balance in the client by working on mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels (Horrigan & Miles).

The Reiki Practitioner places their hands on or slightly above the recipient to begin the Reiki treatment (Bossi et al.). The patient can be in any position, can be fully alert, sleeping or even unconscious. At this time, the [Reiki] practitioner becomes a channel for energy to travel to the recipient (Bossi et al.). A treatment can last from fifteen minutes to an hour depending on the patient’s needs (Bossi et al.). The [Reiki] practitioner places their hands over specific body points of the recipient, known as energy centers or chakras (Bossi et al.). The chakras draw in the subtle energy through the practitioner’s hands (Bossi et al.).

According to Rand (2005) there are seven major chakras in the body which include the following:

  • the root chakra is located near the tip of the coccyx,
  • the sacral chakra is found just above the pubic bone,
  • the solar plexus is located just below the sternum,
  • the heart chakra is located in the middle of the chest,
  • the throat chakra is found around the throat,
  • the third eye chakra is located between the brows, and
  • the crown chakra is found at the top of the head.

On a physical level, the chakras supply energy to the corresponding organs near them (Rand).

A hospitalized patient can benefit from Reiki to all their chakras, more specifically depending on their diagnosis and which part of the body is affected (Horrigan & Miles, 2003). It is also beneficial to give a full body Reiki treatment to balance all chakras (Horrigan & Miles). The goal of giving someone Reiki is to draw out the negative energy and promote positive energy to flow into the chakras (Rand, 2005). Therefore, the chakras are functioning at their full potential (Rand). The Reiki treatment is patient-focused so that the patient’s energy field and chakras draw the energy through the practitioner’s hands, so there is no risk of treating too much or incorrectly (Horrigan & Miles). This energy is universal and Reiki is simply helping one to direct it (Horrigan & Miles).

Benor (2006) discusses the importance of the different aspects of the physical body, including energetic and emotional in Western medicine and holistic medicine. Western medicine is prevalent and accepted around the world, yet it focuses mostly on the body’s physical problems which is called body-focused medicine (Benor). This form of medicine works well with acute problems but deals poorly with chronic illness, death and spiritual issues (Benor). In holistic medicine the body is part of a larger picture including physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the patient (Benor). When the connection between mind, body, spirit and emotions are dealt with together, numerous interventions are unlocked to solve physical problems (Benor). Reiki helps nurses to work with the energies of the body to strive for a balance and reach harmony in patient care (Bossi et al., 2008).

A hospital setting is an ideal environment for Reiki to promote comfort, harmony and balance (Horrigan & Miles, 2003). Patients may be stressed and this creates negative changes in the body (Horrigan & Miles). They may be under pressure to make important decisions about their plan of care based on serious diagnoses (Horrigan & Miles). This may be when patients are at their most vulnerable and decision making is extremely hard (Horrigan & Miles). Reiki can help patients clear their minds, feel calm and empowered (Horrigan & Miles). When nurses use Reiki on patients, it reduces their stress level and provides them with the mental boost needed to help manage their medical condition (Horrigan & Miles). Empowering the patient’s state of mind can positively influence the practice of medicine (Horrigan & Miles).

Governing bodies

The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) and The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) has important views on the use of complementary therapies including Reiki. The CNA (1999) states that, as the demographic characteristics of Canada’s population continue to change, it is important that nurses consider the cultural context of complementary therapy as an important part of client care. However, it is important that nurses who practice Reiki must be knowledgeable about the therapy being provided as well as aware of any possible outcomes and results. Information about the therapy being provided to patients must be evidence-based and accurate to help the patient make an informed decision (CNA). The CNO recognizes that complimentary therapies are becoming more popular and nurses are expressing an interest in providing holistic therapies to patients (CNO, 2008). The CNO believes it is the clients’ choice to participate in complementary therapies.

The nurse must consider client well-being, scope of nursing practice and professional accountability when providing the requested therapy (CNO). RNAO’s Best Practice Guidelines (2008) provide information for non-pharmacological pain management including superficial heat and cold, massage, relaxation, imagery, pressure/vibration and music. Reiki is also listed as a complementary therapy and an intervention for pain management that should be given by Reiki Practitioner who are properly trained (RNAO).

Benefits of Reiki

Hanson and Olson (1997) conducted a pilot study to determine if Reiki could be used to manage pain. Results indicated that Reiki significantly relieved pain from individuals with cancer, arthritis and chronic back issues (Hanson & Olson). Hanson, Michaud and Olson (2003) furthered their study with Reiki by comparing pain, quality of life, and analgesic use in patients experiencing cancer pain. The results showed that the individuals receiving a Reiki treatment reported improved pain control and improved quality of life, compared to the individuals receiving analgesic and rest only (Hanson et al.). Not only did the results show that individuals who received Reiki had a significant decrease in pain, they also experienced a noticeable drop in diastolic blood pressure and a major improvement in the mental and emotional quality of life (Hanson et al.). DeCristofaro and Ott (2008) recount how a young boy with nagging cancer pain described a Reiki treatment as erasing the pain from his body. Bossi et al., (2008) reported how a seven year old girl asked her nurse to provide her with more Reiki treatments after brain surgery because it stopped the pain in her head.

Although there have been studies exploring Reiki and pain management, more rigorous qualitative and quantitative research needs to be conducted (Bossi et al., 2008). Currently, there are trials being conducted regarding Reiki and its effects on stress, prostate cancer, AIDS, fibromyalgia, and painful neuropathy. The final results will strengthen the literature and empower nurses to provide quality care for their patients (Bossi et al.).

Nurses and patients are first in line to explore and use new therapies and interventions (Bossi, DeCristofaro, & Ott, 2008). Reiki enhances coping and healing, and therefore is increasingly sought out by patients and nurses in the hospital setting (Bossi et al.).

My personal experiences with Reiki in the hospital have been very fulfilling. I have received positive feedback from patients receiving Reiki as well. I have used Reiki on patients who have undergone surgery to decrease pain at the surgical site. A patient I was caring for had been involved in a motor vehicle accident which resulted in a fractured right ankle. She was in pain upon returning from surgery so I explained how Reiki can help; I gave her Reiki at the surgical site. After the Reiki treatment was complete, the patient felt more relaxed with less pain around her ankle. She rated her pain lower on the pain scale. A patient with severe burns to both lower legs, accepted a treatment after I explained how Reiki can help to decrease pain. She, too, reported a decrease in pain during and after the Reiki treatment.

My vision for the future is to educate and encourage nurses and healthcare professionals to incorporate Reiki into their lives and professional practice. It may be challenging to completely grasp something as immaterial and intuitive as Reiki, but the true, underlying value is for all to use Reiki to embark on a path towards a better, happier and healthier life (Rand, 2005).


Benor, D.J. (2006)
The Body: Physical, bodymind, energetic, and potential doorway to spiritual awareness

Bossi, L.M., DeCristofaro, S., & Ott, M.J. (2008)
Reiki as a clinical intervention in oncology nursing practice
Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 12(3), 489-494

Canadian Nurses Association. (1999)
Complimentary therapies-finding the right balance

College of Nurses of Ontario. (2008)
Complimentary Therapies

Hanson, J., & Olson, K. (1997)
Using reiki to manage pain: A preliminary report
Cancer Prevention and Control, 1(2), 109–113.

Hanson, J., Michaud, M., & Olson, K. (2003)
A phase II trial of reiki for the management of pain in advanced cancer patients
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 26 (5), 990-997

Horrigan, B., & Miles, P. (2003)
Pamela Miles reiki vibrational healing
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(4), 74.

Rand, W. L. (2005)
The reiki touch: Develop your skills to heal yourself and others
Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True Incorporated

Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. (2007)
Assessment and management of pain

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2 Responses to “The Benefits of Reiki for Hospitalized Clients”

  • Dori Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 15:33

    It is reassuring to see more and more people working in the medical field interested in alternative therapies, and especially in energy healing. Among the first willing to explore non-conventional healing modalities are nurses, maybe because they are the ones who spend most of the time with patients and give that human touch to the health care system.

    I like the professional tone of the study, but what I really enjoyed most was the blend of personal experience and theoretical research that Kelly shared in this article. This shows both a thorough understanding of Reiki and an extensive hands-on Reiki practice.

    We need more studies like this in order to increase both the visibility of the Reiki healing system and its credibility among the medical staff.

  • Martha Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 17:55

    Thank you, Kelly, for bringing peace and healing in people’s lives in more ways than one!

    You are among those who will change the world, and for that we are all grateful. Your article is an inspiration and a blessing for all those still hoping for a better healthcare system.

    Congratulations for both your graduation, and your study. We are very proud of you.

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