Category: Complementary and Alternative Therapies

What is it?

Reiki is a natural form of healing therapy. It is applied through non-invasive gentle touch. This form of therapy aims to increase energy levels and promote relaxation and wellbeing. The underlying philosophy of reiki is that if a person’s ‘life force energy’ is low, they are more likely to be unwell or stressed. If it is high, they are more capable of being happy and feeling well.

How does it work?

Reiki energy, described as 'universal life energy' or 'spiritual energy,' is thought to be transferred from the light touch of the practitioner. This transfer of energy is thought to enhances the body's natural healing ability and promote wellbeing.

Is it effective?

A recent systematic review aimed to summarize and critically evaluate the evidence for the effectiveness of reiki. This review found insufficient evidence to suggest that reiki is an effective treatment for a variety of presentations including depression, anxiety and stress disorders as well as diabetes and after stroke. To date there is minimal research in the effectiveness of reiki intervention for the treatment of PTSD.

Are there any disadvantages?

Some clients may be uncomfortable with the practitioner’s touch.

Where do you get it?

Reiki Australia In Touch and the Australian Natural Therapies web pages have a directory of trained professionals in your area. While these strategies are pursued, it is also important that the person with PTSD is under the care of a certified health professional.

What are the evidence limitations?

There is currently no explicit evidence to support reiki as an independent intervention for PTSD. Much of the evidence base is derived from lower levels of evidence such as expert opinion and clinical experiences. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.


Based on the current lack of high quality evidence, reiki cannot be recommended as a first-line,intervention for those diagnosed with PTSD. More research is required.

Key References

Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health 2007, ‘Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Practitioner Guide’ National Health and Medical research Council, viewed 11 December 2008,

Lee, MS, Pittler, MH & Ernst, E 2008, ‘Effects of reiki in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials’, Int J Clin Pract, vol. 62, no. 6, pp. 947-954.

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