When Words Aren’t The Point – Reiki and Counselling

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The Reiki system shares a foundation with person centred therapy: the practitioner does not ‘do something to’ or give something to the client, but makes conditions that facilitate people’s own natural growth or healing.

I’ve been counselling for over 16 years now, and over the years since my initial training in person centred counselling my practice has changed quite a bit. True to the stereotype of the person centred counsellor when freshly qualified, I was exceedingly concerned — and rightly so — with staying close to the client’s experience and keeping the balance of power with the client. Hence, I very rarely spoke up to make my own contributions in the form of sharing knowledge, my own impressions, or suggestions.

Fast forward a decade, and I am entirely happy to share all of these things, and I no longer feel that this disempowers the client. Rather, I feel that on balance, withholding suggestions, knowledge, reactions etc. on the part of the therapist leads to a strange power imbalance, in which what is not being offered may be perceived as a kind of power held over the client. Maybe at the start of my working life as a counsellor I also simply had less experience to offer and hence was not withholding much. But today there is plenty to be freely offered, and the assumption that the client can take or leave what is being offered is, I think, an empowering one.

Having said that, when counselling, I often feel that there’s something missing. This has led me to extend my offerings to include creative regeneration workshops — a process including meditation, focusing, free-writing and intuitive painting. The workshops are a mix of explicit instruction and absolute freedom, all in contrast to the two-person relationship of therapy in which words are the main intentional currency.

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I still had the sense that something was missing, though. So I’ve recently started a Reiki practice. Reiki is a healing system invented by Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist, in 1920. It is based on the concept of universal life energy, which is known as chi or qi in Chinese medicine and the ancient body of Taoist wisdom. The Reiki system is one in which this energy, which is constantly circulating in the systems of every living being, is intentionally accessed in a concentrated way, and enabled to flow through the practitioner in an intensified way, to the person receiving healing. The energy is neutral and benign, flowing to where it is needed and doing what needs to be done. It might energise, unblock, or calm, provide pain relief or actually facilitate changes in the system which work towards healing for any person in any condition of health.

I received my first two degrees of Reiki over twenty years ago. I never thought of this as something I wanted to develop in a professional way; in fact, soon after training I pretty much forgot about it and got involved in other things. However, an energy flow once accessed, does not go away. And in its own good time, it just seemed to happen that people appeared around me with intractable, long term health problems, and I had the urge to put my hands on them, and they often experienced a great deal of relief — not to mention some spontaneous and surprising spinal adjustments — after which they recommended that I take this further. It was then that I remembered my previous studies! I went back to refresh my conceptual/operational knowledge of the system I had incorporated so seamlessly, and am now in the process of attaining the third level of Reiki.

So I find myself in a position where my professional identity is expanding in an organic way, and I now have the option of offering people access to a kind of healing which is maybe not beyond, but different from words. The Reiki system shares a foundation with person centred therapy: the practitioner does not ‘do something to’ or give something to the client, but makes conditions that facilitate people’s own natural growth or healing. I believe that it’s ultimately the same energy that makes life flow better on all levels, whether we’re recovering from traumas, mental states or physical injuries or illnesses. Sometimes words are necessary, and sometimes silent touch, sometimes we need to make sense and sometimes we need to let go. The energy released when we hit on the right method for the right moment and condition, can be immense.

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