Reaching for science to make an impressive case for Reiki treatment may seem like a good idea, but it can seriously backfire if you are not a scientist. Here are a few suggestions to keep you off the hotseat, and help you avoid discrediting both yourself and Reiki practice.
1. Avoid overstating the research.
The scientific study of Reiki practice is just beginning. Very little research has been published. Many of the studies published are not very strong. All of the published studies are small.
Scientists are really just learning how to study traditional healing practices such as Reiki, acupuncture and yoga, which impact the body in very different ways than pharmaceuticals do.
At this point, there is not enough scientific evidence to support including Reiki treatment in standard medical care. Given that Reiki treatment is already being offered to patients at top-tier hospitals such as NY-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, Dana Farber Harvard Cancer Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the lack of scientific evidence doesn’t seem to be a problem.
2. Avoid studies not published in peer-reviewed journals.
Avoid them like the plague. Just because a study was done doesn’t mean it is good science, and if it’s not good science, it’s not going to impress a scientist or physician.
How can Reiki practitioners know if a study is worth citing? Studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals (think Journal of the American Medical Association, not Scientific American), have to pass peer-review. This is an involved process designed to separate solid studies from the rest, and it only makes sense to follow the experts on this. After all, the goal of researching Reiki is to meet the established standards of medical research, not to invent our own.
Nothing is gained (and much could be lost) by citing a study that hasn’t passed peer-review. Scientists know the difference between solid science and goop even if Reiki practitioners don’t. Read the fine print, because there are Reiki websites that promote unpublished studies.
3. Avoid science you don’t understand.
Pop science draws interest only from non-scientists, and it doesn’t build credibility. Don’t pretend. Most physicians don’t understand quantum physics, and they know you don’t either.
Scientists are specialists; they accept that they don’t know everything. Scientists expect experts to recognize the limits of their own expertise, and to communicate with clarity, brevity, and respect.
Scientists do not expect Reiki practitioners to be scientists, but if we don’t respect that they are, why would they listen to what a Reiki practitioner has to say?
It basically comes down to being respectful and demonstrating critical thinking. Scientists, physicians, and the public are watching to see whether Reiki practitioners are offering credible information, or making claims. Since there are no standardized credentials for Reiki practice, people decide whether we have credible information that could benefit them primarily on the basis of our demeanor and our words.
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Reiki, Science, and the Media
Recording of a Reiki Presentation Pamela gave at a medical conference
Introduction to Medical Reiki Webinar
Practicing Reiki in Health Care: What You Need to Succeed