Qualitative Assessment of the Impact of Implementing Reiki Training in a Supported Residence for People Older Than 50 Years with HIV/AIDS

Perm J. 2011 Summer;15(3):43-50. doi: 10.7812/TPP/10-152.


Introduction: Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing that has become popular in the US. Reiki training involves three stages-levels I, II, and III-to a master practitioner level and requires both giving and receiving Reiki. We set out to implement a program to train clients of a supported residence in Brooklyn, NY. They were all older than age 50 years and had HIV/AIDS and substance-abuse and/or mental-health disorders.

Methods: A qualitative, narrative-inquiry study was conducted. The Reiki master kept a journal of her 3 years of providing 90 minutes of Reiki treatment and/or training once weekly at the residence. Forty-five of 50 potential participants attended these sessions with various frequencies. Stories were collected from 35 participants regarding their experience of Reiki training. We posited success as continued involvement in the program.

Results: All 35 participants reported receiving benefit from participation in Reiki. Participants first took part in training because of the offered subway tokens; however, 40 continued their involvement despite a lack of compensation. When asked why they continued, participants reported life-changing experiences, including a greater ability to cope with addictions, a greater ability to manage counseling, healing of wounds, improvement of T-cell counts, and improved skills of daily living.

Conclusion: Reiki training can be successfully implemented in a supported housing facility with people with HIV/AIDS and comorbid disorders. Some people in our study population reported areas of improvement and life-changing experiences. Our study did not establish the efficacy of Reiki, but our findings support the effect of the entire gestalt of implementing a program related to spirituality and healing and supports the goal of implementing a larger randomized, controlled trial in this setting to establish the efficacy of Reiki.