Reiki means universal life force; it’s an ancient art that uses therapeutic touch to promote healing and balance. Reiki is a simple and effective tool that easily can be incorporated into any practice.
Susan Boudreau, NP, and Sharon Foldy, Level III RN, both nurses working in Boston Children’s Hospital Pre-operative Clinic, are Reiki certified. Expert nurses in their own right, both became Reiki practitioners because they wanted to offer additional healing modalities for their patients. They incorporate Reiki treatments into their everyday practice. Scrubbed In got the dish on what it means to practice Reiki in the real world of nursing.
Sharon: I had given a Reiki session to a 9-month-old at a pre-op appointment for tethered cord decompression. Post-operatively, the mother was very concerned about her child’s inability to feed. After a single 10-min session the baby was able to latch on and breastfeed while in the prone position. I believe the mother benefited as much as the child did, just from observing the treatment.
Susan: I had a young boy with an aggressive cancer who had chemotherapy and was now presenting for tumor resection. He arrived with his grandmother who presented as angry and somewhat uncooperative. I understood her anger was a projection of her fear and frustration relating to his illness but I still needed to get past it to have any therapeutic effect. When his mother arrived she demonstrated excellent coping and the clinical agenda moved forward. As the visit neared completion, I asked if there was anything else I could do. His mother responded, “Yes, find me someone who can do Reiki.” I was ever grateful to be able to offer Reiki myself. In a snap the grandmother made direct eye contact and said, “Well, I want some of that.” So we made a plan to give the grandmother Reiki at that time and to meet them on the day of surgery to provide Reiki for the patient. Her entire attitude changed after a few short minutes of Reiki and I believe it was because she felt cared for in a way that acknowledged, without words, her personal struggle with her grandson’s illness. I was very grateful to have been able to provide that vehicle for renewal.
Sharon: Sometimes I have patients who request Reiki when they see the brochure posted in our waiting room. Other times I will offer a “light-touch session that may help you to relax and take positive energy with you.”
Susan: First, I assess a potential need as well as their potential openness to the idea of Reiki. If those are present, I start by asking if they have ever heard of Reiki. Some have but for those who haven’t, I elaborate by explaining that Reiki is using energy through the hands to help with anxiety, pain and healing. After explaining it, I tell them that I’m a Reiki practitioner and ask if they are interested in a few minutes of Reiki to help with whatever need they seem to be experiencing at the moment. Sometimes I give a handout that reinforces that explanation of Reiki.
Sharon: Reiki gives me one more tool to offer to patients when I am trying to help them through a difficult time.
Susan: Reiki has definitely enhanced my practice. It is one more option to offer to patients in providing care. I believe it conveys caring and helps both the practitioner and the patient to calm, re-focus and re-energize. I feel like my relationships with patients and parents, though our encounters are brief, are more therapeutic and satisfying when Reiki is incorporated into the visit. It takes us beyond the perioperative agenda into the realm of caring in just a few moments of energy exchange.
Sharon: I would encourage any nurse who is interested to add Reiki to her skill set to aid in physical as well as spiritual healing. A Reiki session can take very little time, yet make a great deal of difference to patients and families. I think it has an important place in perioperative care.
Susan: I would say go for it! Reiki offers a road to a more mindful practice and daily living. Patients are inundated with sources of painful touching and fearful circumstances. It is powerful to be able to offer a source of touch that has the potential to counteract those negative stimuli. I wish I had practiced Reiki from the outset of my career. Reiki is very do-able. It only takes a few focused minutes to offer benefit so is easily incorporated into daily practice.