Reiki – An Alternative therapy to help with Depression and Mental Illness

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How This Helps

Reiki is an alternative and complimentary therapy that uses the practitioner’s hands to channel universal life-force energy. Reiki can be healing, calming, and relaxing as well as energizing if needed (JM Tkalec, ClearSpirit.org). A skilled Reiki practitioner is able to energetically both assess a client’s needs as well as provide treatment for energy blockages found in the body.


According to Pamela Miles, a Reiki Master with over twenty years of experience, the list of benefits of Reiki is unique to each client because people experience different imbalances and have differing values for change. Take the case of Tina (name has been changed to protect privacy).

Tina is a 47 year old teacher with many years of experience working with children with developmental disabilities. She came seeking Reiki services because, as she states, “I just don’t feel well, I can’t say why because I don’t know, just something isn’t right.” She denied any significant medical issues, stating she is overall very healthy. She had never received Reiki before, but had found it online while doing a search for alternative therapies for wellness. She was quite skeptical of the practice but was willing to try one session.

The session began with a description of what Reiki is and what she could expect including my being able to receive information about her energy and potential physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties. With her consent, I began using my hands to examine her energy centers, or Chakras. She seemed to have significant blockages around her Heart Chakra. Knowing that the heart center is a strong point for hope and trust, I was able to work with it to increase her energy flow at that point with the goal of increasing her ability to feel hope and a subsequent decrease in anxiety (John Michael Thornton, johnmichaelthornton.com).

Tina also had blockages around her Throat Chakra. A blocked Throat Chakra can equate with literal difficulty for her in speaking her truth. Positive energy flow would enhance Tina’s ability to communicate positively. My goal was that an improved ability to communicate would also lead to feelings of wellness.

The final, and most “noisy” energy center during Tina’s session was her Seventh Chakra, or Crown Chakra. This is located at the top of the head and an imbalance is strongly correlated with depression and exhaustion. It took a significant amount of work but by the end of the session energy was flowing much better through all of Tina’s Chakras.

Following the energy work I had a discussion with Tina about the blockages I found in her session. Because I hadn’t received much information from her prior to the session, I decided to ask her specific questions after the session. I told her about the difficulties around her Throat Chakra and suggested that perhaps she was having difficulty with work in stating her needs. I asked her if she had ever been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. She began crying and said she had seen her doctor three weeks prior and he had suggested she be started on an antidepressant to help with her anxiety and depression, but she refused medications. She said this is why she started looking for other methods of wellness. Being a Registered Nurse, I discussed with her the benefits of antidepressant medications and of following her doctor’s suggestions, but also that several more Reiki session could be helpful to energetically settle some of the symptoms she was experiencing.

She continued to be tearful and said she was frustrated with work and that a new manager had recently started. Tina said she was having difficulties with this manager because she was failing to support Tina in the way she needed given the population of children with which she was working. She said she felt more empowered to speak with her manager since I was able to validate her feelings about the situation. She also said that following the Reiki session she felt calmer overall and more relaxed than she had in several weeks.

Tina agreed to more Reiki sessions. The next two sessions were used to continue to work on the Chakra blockages assessed in the first session. She continued to feel more calm and hopeful that she was still doing what she needed to do for herself in life. She reported to me that she had seen her doctor in follow-up and he told her she no longer had significant enough anxiety or depressive symptoms to warrant antidepressant medication. She did decide to begin work with a therapist so she could discuss her past and current life issues. I currently see Tina once per month to promote healthy energy flow and continued mental wellness.

While I would never suggest that Reiki be used in place of medication or proper medical care, I am a strong proponent of using Reiki to compliment traditional medicine. In the case of Tina, Reiki was able to open her energy channels to the extent that she no longer had strong enough symptoms of anxiety and depression to be prescribed antidepressant medication. She was open and willing to continue to use Reiki to help her function in the healthiest way possible and to date states she is functioning as well as she ever has in work and life.