Reiki: The Basics

Kimberly Fleisher, RMT, M.Ed, Director/Founder of The Reiki School + Clinic
Team Leader, Reiki Program, The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: February 2, 2011

Reiki practice came from Japan to the United States in the late 1930's. Facilitated through gentle, non-manipulative touch, it helps balance our system, engage our inner resources, and move us towards a place of wellness.

How is Reiki Performed?

During a Reiki session (also referred to as a 'treatment'), a practitioner places their hands lightly on a fully clothed client who reclines on a massage table or sits in a comfortable chair. Sessions can also be given in alternative settings, like a hospital bed.

In addition to receiving treatments from a practitioner, Reiki can be easily learned. A client can become a practitioner; able to treat themselves, friends or family. A qualified Reiki Master Teacher* can provide simple instruction and initiation into the practice.

What Does Treatment Cost?

The cost of a session can vary greatly from practitioner to practitioner.

Many people access sessions from friends who've received Reiki training but do not practice professionally.

Others seek out a Reiki professional, whose fee can vary based on their location, setting, experience, and whether or not they practice full-time (Reiki practice as their sole source of income).

Additionally, some Reiki centers, community centers, non-profits and health care organizations offer free or low-cost opportunities for people to receive Reiki sessions.

Currently Medicare and Medicaid do not reimburse for Reiki and most insurers do not cover the cost. Any payment stipulated is typically paid for out-of-pocket.

What is Reiki used to Treat?

Unlike many other complementary practices, Reiki sessions treat the whole person. A treatment balances, and as a result clients often report release or relief from unwanted symptoms. Cancer patients often report a reduction in the side effects of conventional treatment, including pain, nausea, anxiety, stress and fatigue, as well as an increase in overall feelings of peace, wellbeing, letting go, freedom, support, connection, balance and release.


There are no known contraindications for Reiki, meaning, there are no known reasons that a Reiki session should be avoided because of the potential to cause harm. It is generally regarded as a safe, non-invasive practice that does not compete with other interventions.

How is a Reiki Practitioner Certified or Licensed?

Reiki is a practice that is learned from an experienced teacher or a Master – it is not self-taught. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's Backgrounder on Reiki states:

No special background or credentials are needed to receive training, and the specific techniques taught can vary greatly.

Reiki practitioners' training and expertise vary. Increasingly, many people who seek training are licensed health care professionals. However, no licensing or professional standards exist for the practice of Reiki.

How Do I Find A Qualified Reiki Practitioner?

There are a number of questions a potential practitioner (or teacher) can answer to help you determine if they are a good fit for you:

  • Where (with who) did you complete your training? What was your training like? Reiki training is best learned in person, and not over the Internet. The number of hours of training with a Master teacher, length of time of study, and opportunities for practice can make a big difference in the quality of the practitioner.
  • What is your lineage? Reiki training is passed down from teacher to student. Therefore, a Reiki practitioner (or Reiki teacher*) will have a lineage that traces back to the founder of the practice, Mikao Usui. Although some dedicated, wonderful Reiki practitioners do not know their lineage (their teacher may not have given it to them or it may have been lost over the years); lineage can be one way to verify an authentic Reiki practice.
  • What experience do you have treating clients? Have you given Reiki sessions to anyone aside from friends or family? The answers to this question will give you some insight into the practitioner's clinical background and comfort offering treatments. A practitioner does not have to be a professional for the session to be effective, however, a Reiki professional may justify their fee based on their level of clinical experience.
  • What happens during a Reiki treatment? How do you explain Reiki? A Reiki professional will have an answer that is clear, intelligible, and not way over your head. If you can't understand, or don't resonate with what they are talking about, chances are they are not a good fit for you. Additionally, a Reiki practitioner won't offer diagnosis or medical advice. Their sessions should not compete with your primary health care plan.

*Traditionally, there are three levels of Reiki training; the third level is known as Reiki Master Training, and upon completion of this level one gains the ability to teach. They are given the title, "Reiki Master." Some schools of Reiki, however, have segmented the Reiki Master instruction further, calling the third level, "Reiki Master Practitioner," focusing primarily on practitioner development, and the fourth level, "Reiki Master Teacher," focusing on training to become a Reiki teacher. If you want learn how to practice Reiki make sure you choose a Reiki Master who is able to teach.


National Institutes of Health - NCCAM, Reiki: An Introduction [NCCAM Backgrounder]

Reiki Central Blog

The Reiki School + Clinic – Is Reiki Right For Me?


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