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08 · 08 · 20
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Reiki Explained: How the Energy Practice Can Help You Heal Trauma

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After my recent Reiki session and training, I wondered how the practice can help us heal trauma.

Reiki is a Japanese energy healing practice that is widely used in hospitals.  Studies show that it can help improve physical and psychological health after only one session.  As a psychotherapist, I couldn’t help but notice the overlap between releasing emotions in Reiki and in therapy.  Could the emotional release help heal trauma?

I asked Reiki Master Jalpa Dhaduk to explain how it works.

Can Reiki Help Heal Trauma?

According to Dhaduk, our esoteric body (think chakras, aura) can hold on to energy when we experience trauma.  “If it’s not processed, it can lead to mental, emotional, and sometimes physical blockages and discomfort.  During Reiki, the ‘Ki’ helps move this stagnant energy out of our energetic system, replacing it with pure Source energy, ” she states.

In Reiki, Ki refers to energy.  Ki can be healthy or unhealthy.  If it is flowing and unblocked, it is considered healthy.  Ki is the primary energy of our emotions.  It flows within our physical body through pathways called chakras.  When healthy Ki is flowing freely in our bodies and our chakras are balanced, we experience well-being.

Dhaduk explains that by clearing stuck energy, people with trauma release blockages and feel lighter.

How Does a Reiki Practitioner Know Where the Energy Blocks Are?

Dhaduk states that everyone has vital force energy and chakras in their hands.  After a Reiki training and attunement, practioners are educated on how to activate and channel this vital force energy.

Practitioners use a scanning technique to move their hands over the body without touching the person.  According to Dhaduk this technique helps to detect “density, blockages, and imbalances in the energetic body.”

Why Do Some People Have Emotional or Physical Reactions During Reiki?

“During a Reiki treatment, as deep seeded ‘Ki’ energy is released, it may cause reactions like crying, involuntary twitching, changes in body temperature, and tingling.  I perceive these as resistance unleashing.”  Dhaduk explains that this release is stagnant energy moving out.

In trauma-informed psychotherapy, these reactions are signs of emotional release after the nervous system has been activated.  Examples of reactions include: twitching, trembling, tingling, chills, heat, sweating, yawning, crying, laughing, sighing, burping, coughing, and stomach gurgling.

These reactions are a beneficial part of the releasing process.  There is no need to try to control or stop the release, especially if you’re in a safe and supportive environment.  Even though it might feel strange or unfamiliar, discharging emotions in this way is a natural part of the recovery process in trauma treatment.

How Does a Reiki Practitioner Ensure that Someone Isn’t Emotionally Overwhelmed or Re-Traumatized by Traumatic Memories During a Session?

Dhaduk states that, “If emotions surface to clear, it may feel uncomfortable.  The practitioner is there to ground and hold space for the client as he or she clears the blockages.  During a treatment, the client is in a meditative state and typically feels calm as soothing energy washes over them.”

During my own Reiki session, I felt calm and peaceful.  Perhaps this is a testament to the positive energy flow as well as the Reiki practitioner’s ability to hold space.

Are There Any Special Guidelines for Reiki Practitioners Working with Trauma Clients?

Dhaduk believes that transparency and consent are important when working with trauma clients.  “Because the severity of trauma varies for each person, the best practice is to explain thoroughly what the treatment process entails.  It’s important to assure the client that they are in control and the treatment can be paused at anytime.”  Dhaduk continues, “The unknown can be initially overwhelming for someone experiencing PTSD.”

This trauma-sensitive approach to Reiki is consistent with trauma-informed psychotherapy.  Taking such measures can help clients feel more comfortable with the treatment process.  In addition to transparency and consent, practitioners can follow additional guidelines when working with trauma.  For example, they can make sure that they aren’t pressing clients to re-tell their story (which can be re-traumatizing) and they can also recommend psychotherapy in addition to Reiki.

How Many Reiki Sessions Might Someone Need in Order to Heal Trauma?

Dhaduk states that while every person’s journey is unique, four consistent Reiki treatments are recommended to help shift the underlying energy from trauma.  Older trauma, however, can take longer to clear.

Is It Better to Self-Administer Reiki or To Have a Practitioner If You Struggle with Trauma?

Since Reiki can be self-administered once you’re trained, it can be used as at-home self-care.  When it comes to trauma, however, it might be better to start with a professional.  Dhaduk believes that having a Reiki practitioner hold space for your healing can be more powerful initially.  She recommends finding a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable and connected.  If you’re trained in Reiki, you can self-administer it between sessions to support the treatment.

Is Reiki for You?

Reiki can be a profoundly healing complementary practice to trauma therapy.  To learn more and to see if it’s for you, check out by “Burning Bright: Rituals, Reiki, and Self-Care to Heal Burnout, Anxiety, and Stress” by Kelsey J. Patel and find a reputable practitioner near you.

I’d love to hear from you: Are you a skeptic, a pro, or curious about trying Reiki?

Ask Dr. Kress
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It’s interesting to know how taking reiki sessions help you to heal traumas, by letting your chakras free the bad energy in your body. My sister told me that she wants to take a course to be able to provide these benefits to people, and I want to help her to find the right school to do it, but I wanted to understand it better. I appreciate that you wrote this article and explained how reiki works, I’ll help her to find the right place to study.

Hi Megan. It’s great that your sister is interested in helping people heal with Reiki! Glad the article was useful!

I tried reiki a few years ago and it made me cry and have chills and hot flashes. I felt so much better and lighter afterward. I just didn’t understand why. I’m thinking about doing it again so thanks for the reminder.

So glad that you had a positive experience with Reiki. You’re welcome for the reminder!

That’s cool that reiki could help you to deal with trauma. I have a friend who recently went through some pretty traumatic experiences, so that may be something that could help them out. I should recommend that they take a look into reiki to see if it would help them feel more normal.

Hi Tyler. Yes, Reiki can be a complementary practice to trauma psychotherapy for some people. It’s great to have different options and supports for healing!