According to good old Google (or was it Bing?) –



  1. a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being

That’s it in a nutshell, really.

Reiki (Ray – Key) is a Japanese word which, when loosely translated, means ‘Universal (Rei) Lifeforce Energy (Ki)’. Reiki dates back to 1865, and a man named Mikao Usui. The exact details regarding its discovery are sketchy, which could mean either that it’s all BS (if you’re a sceptic) or that record keeping in the late 1800’s left a bit to be desired.

Either way, Reiki has developed quite the following among both practitioners and clients (I don’t like using the word ‘patient’, but that’s just me).

Since becoming certified in Reiki, I have done a lot of research into what it is and why there is so much scepticism surrounding it, and most alternative therapies, for that matter. There seem to be three very definite groups out there –

  1. the full-on fans of woo-woo and card-carrying members of the anti-vax, death to big pharma brigade,
  2. the if it isn’t prescribed by a medical professional and comes in a jar it’s rubbish people; and
  3. the people in the middle. The ones I like to call ‘open minded sceptics’ (this is where I land, by the way).

It’s not difficult to find articles on the subject or Reiki. Some slam it as a scam, others swear by it – I even found a couple of articles on ‘What Can Go Wrong in a Reiki Session’, which I will cover another day (spoiler alert – nothing).

Honestly, I do find it a bit funny that most scientific articles debunk any kind of energy healing or treatment as hippie dippy rubbish, yet according to quantum physics (Yes, I, too watched ‘Big Bang’) ‘we are part of a vast, invisible field of energy, which contains all possible realities and responds to our thoughts and our feelings.’

Here’s a related example.

We have all said for ages that the nutbags come out when there’s a full moon, have we not? Having worked in customer service for near 30 years and briefly in hospo, I can personally attest to that. In recent years, a mate told me she was having a – let’s say ‘discussion’ – with her husband about that. He didn’t believe the moon being full could make a generally sane and calm person carry on like a pie can. She argued that since our bodies are made up of quite the percentage of water, and that if the moon affects the tides (also water), why wouldn’t it have an effect on a human?

He conceded that she did, indeed, have a point.

I think the same can be said of Ki, of life force energy. If Quantum Mechanics tells us everything in the universe is energy, why then is something that uses energy to heal or calm dismissed as flaky?

Let’s look that the ‘Many Worlds Theory’ –

I quote directly from

“According to this theory, in addition to our universe, there is an infinite number of other universes. The theory was originally offered to resolve strange quantum interpretation of particles and their wave-particle dual nature and causality principle.

In many world theory, you are not living in just one space; rather, there are infinite transcripts of you in other worlds that may happen to have completely different behavior. In multiple universe theory, each of your versions can have a completely different fate”

I’m not saying the Many Worlds Theory has anything to do with Reiki itself. I mention it because not only is it fascinating and worth further exploration, but it also shows that science itself is a purveyor of some pretty out-there s**t.

For a first-hand account of a Reiki session, check out this article (this article is definitely worth a read. For a sceptic, she gives a really fair and balanced view of things) –

The author cites her physical reactions during treatment, and mentions that perhaps the benefits experienced after a Reiki treatment may be due to the ‘placebo effect’.

I’m sure we are all more than familiar with what a placebo is, but just in case, the definition  found at states that The placebo effect is when an improvement of symptoms is observed, despite using a nonactive treatment. It’s believed to occur due to psychological factors like expectations or classical conditioning. Research has found that the placebo effect can ease things like pain, fatigue, or depression.’

So, what they’re saying is that the Reiki practitioner does nothing. If the recipient leaves a session feeling better, less anxious or with some pain being alleviated, that it’s all in their head and not due to what Reiki may or may not have done.

To that, can I just say………so?

I know through personal experience, that there is nothing weird or fake about Reiki energy and its effects, but I also understand that people are justifiably wary.

I suppose what I’m saying is that if a person comes to a Reiki practitioner to feel better, and they leave feeling better, then…..mission accomplished. The results are real, the client leaves happy and all is good in the world.

(NB: It is important to remember here, Reiki is NOT a cure, and you should beware of any practitioner who says it is. That is something I’ll be covering in the upcoming days.)

I hope this has cleared up a few things.

Reiki – like most complementary therapies – is something you’re either drawn to, or you’re not. If you’re considering a treatment, then you’re probably one of those people drawn to it, and as such, my advice is to give it a go. It’s non-invasive, gentle, there are no pills, supplements or potions, and while you may have some mild physical reactions during treatment, Reiki has no ongoing side effects. Reiki can do no harm.

So, if you’re feeling it, why not?

Tracey Dawes – Reiki Practitioner – Caloundra, Sunshine Coast

Yes, I am a Reiki practitioner, however I believe that Reiki plays a part in overall wellness, and I am also training to become a qualified Wellness Coach, and I have found that ‘coaching’ is another area where people can be unsure as to what it actually entails.

Life coach, health coach, financial coach, business coach. 

Coaching appears to be the career d’jour.  

But what do they really do? Is it worth it? Surely you don’t need a coach to help you live your life. Aren’t you doing that already all ‘bout yourself?   A dear friend is a very successful life coach, and watching her help people and build her coaching practice over the years got me fascinated. Why do these people need you to help them do what’s best for them? Can’t they work it out on their own?  

Well, not always.  

A good coach can seriously help you change whatever aspect of your life you need help changing. So – what does a coach actually do? 

According to“we are not considering the ‘coach as expert, but, instead, the coach as a facilitator of learning”.  

As good a way to put it as any.  

As we know, there is a big difference between outright teaching, and helping someone to learn. That’s where a coach comes in. They help us to learn.  I once again quote ‘skills you need’ – “Good coaches believe that the individual always has the answer to their own problems but understands that they may need help to find the answer.” 

If you think about it, we have all been coached or indeed have done the coaching at least once in our lives. Ever offered relationship advice to a friend? Or explained to someone how to tell if a cake is done? That, my friends, is coaching.  

Here’s a conversation that never took place with a person that doesn’t exist – but it does help explain things –  

Jane: ‘I know I should get to the gym more often, but my family needs me. If I head to the gym as soon as my husband gets home, he complains that he hasn’t seen me all day and now I’m going out. I feel selfish’. 

Coach: ‘OK, so what I’m hearing is you feel guilty leaving your family on their own.’ 

Jane: ‘I suppose, yeah.’ 

Coach: ‘How much time do you spend in the gym now? Any?’ 

Jane: ‘I go twice a week, for an hour at a time”. 

Coach: ‘and how often would you need to go to feel like you’ve achieved something?’ 

Jane: ‘Ideally, 4 times a week for an hour.’ 

Coach: ‘Right. So, how do you feel on the days you go as against the days you don’t? Physically and emotionally?’ 

Jane: ‘The days I train my mood is pretty good. I’m happier and way more tolerant with the kids. Strangely, I also feel like I get more done. The days I don’t train I’m normally in a bit of a foul mood, feel sluggish and my temper is shorter.’ 

Coach: ‘Yeah, I get that.  Let’s think about the days you don’t train – do you think you feel cranky and sluggish because of the lack of physical activity, or because you feel a bit cheated out of your ‘me’ time and are a bit resentful about it?’  

Jane: ‘Honestly? Probably both.’ 

Coach: ‘So I’m guessing that on the days you don’t train, your family isn’t getting the best of you’ 

Jane: ‘I hadn’t looked at it that way’ 

Coach: ‘That’s why I’m here. Because you’re overall happier on the days you get training in, would you say that the time you spend with your family on those days is real quality time, even though there’s an hour less of it?’ 

Jane: ‘Without doubt.’ 

Coach: ‘Sooooo………?’ 

See what I mean? The coach didn’t tell Jane the answer, but through a series of questions guided her to find it herself.  

Pretty cool, hey?  

Once again, I quote –  

The coach is not a subject expert, but rather is focused on helping the individual to unlock their own potential.” 

If you’re still unsure, this is how I explained it to myself.  

A coach won’t tell you to go enlist a Personal Trainer. They will, though, guide you to make that decision yourself.  

They will offer you knowledge, choices, and will empower you to take control of your own life.  

So, if there is an area of your life you need help with, or you feel is out of control, grabbing yourself a coach is a great place to start. They are really easy to find. So much so that I was going to list a few links here to different types of coaches, but honestly – type ‘business coaching Australia’ into your search bar and it spits out a gazillion choices.  

And as an added bonus – by nature, they are normally really nice people. Surly buggers don’t go into this field.  

Think about it. This is a person who has made a conscious decision to turn empowering and building people up into a career.  

And THAT is pretty cool 😊  

While Reiki is growing in popularity, there is still a degree of mystery surrounding what it is and what goes down during a treatment.  

(If you want to know what Reiki actually is, check out my article ‘What is Reiki (and why you are right to be skeptical)’).  

So, what can you expect from a typical Reiki treatment? 

Typically, a Reiki treatment lasts from 45 minutes to an hour, although many practitioners offer 30 minute30-minute treatments as well (I, personally offer 60 minute and 30 minute30-minute treatments).  When you arrivearrive, we’ll have a bit of a chat just to check you’re OK, whether or not you’re a bit nervous or whether you have some specific issue you need help with.  

By the way – if you’re not comfortable telling me about a specific problem, you don’t have to. I don’t need to know. The Reiki energy will find its own way to where it needs to be with very little help from me. It’s really smart, like that 😊 

Once you’re happy, I’ll get you to jump up on the treatment table, which is just like a massage table. I have blankets and doonas if you’d prefer to be covered or if you’re chilly, and an eye pillow. I find the eye pillow helps with relaxation, but if you’d prefer not to use it, that’s fine, too. 

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Reiki treatments are done clothes on. This isn’t massage – we don’t need that kind of access to your muscles.  

When you’re comfortable, I’ll begin the treatment.  

I normally have soft music playing and some nice oils burning. I find having the lighting in the room dimmed (not dark) is more relaxing, but if you’re not comfortable with that, say so.  

I’ll then begin by placing my hands onhands-on different points over your body – the top of your head, your ears, shoulders, hands, knees and the soles of your feet. When I direct energy to your heart space and solar plexus (belly) I hold my hands a couple of inches above your body.  

Once I place my hands on you, they stay static for a length of time. As I said before, this isn’t massage. I don’t manipulate any muscles,muscles; I just hold my hands still and channel the energy.  

All you need to do is lie there and chill. You may feel some tingles, you may nod off, you may feel nothing. That’s all cool. I normally don’t speak during a treatment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. If you are feeling uncomfortable or nervous at any stage, or if you want the treatment to stop for any reason, speak up.  

By the way, if you’re not comfortable being touched anywhere (some people don’t like their ears being touched) or at all, just say so. I can either treat you while you’re under a blanket or doona, or hold my hands a couple of inches above you. The treatment is just as effective and remember, this is all about your relaxation and comfort. 

Once the treatment is over, I’ll ask how you’re feeling and make sure you’re all OK. You may feel a bit groggy but that is more likely to be from being very relaxed – possibly even asleep or dozing – for an hour rather than from the Reiki itself.  

So, there you have it. That’s what a treatment with me looks like. Obviously, I can’t speak for other practitioners, but you’ll probably find things won’t differ too much from one practitioner to another.  

As always you don’t need to be after a treatment to get in touch – there are heaps of resources out there about Reiki, but feel free to drop me an email with any questions.  

Yours in Wellness, my friends.  

This, in my opinion, is a fair question. 

 If a Doctor was prescribing a course of treatment, you’d want to know of any negative side effects, wouldn’t you? When you’re going for surgery, they will always tell you what can go wrong. 

Well, same with Reiki. Or any complementary therapy, for that matter.   

Now, based on my training and personal experience, I know that nothing can go wrong during a Reiki session. But then, isn’t that exactly what you’d expect a Reiki Practitioner to say? 😊. No practitioner is going to tell you that the Reiki session will send all negative energy in your body to your left foot, where it will leave your aura by way of making said foot fall off. But don’t worry – I have band aids. 

I did want to know, though, what people worried (justifiably) about when thinking about booking a Reiki session. So, I did what most of us would do – I headed to Google.  I did find a couple of articles, not as many as I expected, on what could go wrong in a session. For the most part, they are either written by science enthusiasts determined to debunk anything even resembling alternative as witchcraft, or dedicated gurus of voodoo who are going for sensationalism and want to make out that being a Reiki practitioner is a bit edgy and dare I venture, dangerous.  

One such article (I won’t name and shame – just google ‘what can go wrong in a Reiki session’ and you’ll find it easily enough), mentions things like ‘spirit attachments’, ‘negative energies’ and uses the term ‘Reiki Initial Worsening’. The author talks about deceased people and dark spirits being present and unconsciously allowing them into your energy field. 

All of this is utter rubbish, and my personal opinion is that this kind of scare mongering is irresponsible.  Not to mention being a bit of a counter productive thing for a Reiki practitioner to say (insert puzzled expresion here)….but I digress. 

NB: If you believe – as I do – that we have energy fields and auras that can be infiltrated, let me put your mind at ease. If you don’t believe that, then none of this will be worrying you anyway and you’re fine 😊  

Nothing and no one can live rent-free in your aura without your say so. Can’t happen. (Well, to be 100% honest it can happen, but definitely NOT as a result of a Reiki session and that’s what I’m covering here.) Yes, your practitioner will do an energy clearing between sessions, and other energies may turn up, in fact chances are they will, but nothing can creep in the back door of your energy field and start making a pest of itself, even if you do happen to nod off. Your aura cannot be opened unintentionally during a session. That’s not the way Reiki works.  

 The scientific articles are really no surprise. The authors talk more about the industry being neither regulated nor covered by health insurance, and that there is no scientific backing rather than dealing specifically with any physical or emotional side effects.  

One article ( does mention the following –  

“During reiki, you lie down on a massage table in a dark or dim room. You have to hold still as your practitioner stands over you. They might play soft music in the background, but they won’t talk during the session. 

For some people, this can feel uncomfortable or awkward. It could lead to anxiety, panic attacks, or the inability to relax.” 

This is pretty much true – the room may be darkened, soft music probably will be playing, and your practitioner may or may not talk. I do think referring to this as ‘discomfort during a session’ and listing it as a ‘side effect’ and a ‘risk’ is a bit of a stretch, though. Your practitioner may not speak once the session begins, but that doesn’t mean you can’t, and if you start to feel anxious or panicky during a session, speak up. In fact, if you are worried you may become anxious for any reason during a session, I would strongly advise discussing this with your practitioner when you book so you are both prepared for that eventuality. 

The soft lighting, music and silence is all there so you feel relaxed and has no real effect on how the reiki is delivered. So, if you prefer a well-lit room, or if you find Death Metal more relaxing a music choice than zen flute sounds, say so.  

The author also states that “Reiki is not an alternative for medical treatment. It doesn’t treat any diseases or disorders. Instead, it aims to promote overall wellness. 

If you have a disease or disorder, it’s still important to get appropriate medical treatment while getting reiki.” 

Totally agree. 100%. Cannot stress this enough.  

Did I mention that I agree with this?

As practitioners we are taught that Reiki is not a cure. A treatment may help ease symptoms of a condition, but it won’t cure it.  

As a side note, I don’t like the term ‘alternative’ therapy. I much prefer, and always use, the term ‘complimentary’ therapy. I don’t believe Reiki or any other similar treatments should be considered a replacement or ‘alternative’ for western medicine, and believe the two can work hand in hand to everyone’s advantage. 

There you have it. If you have been thinking about booking a session and were a bit worried about any negative side effects, I hope this has put your mind at ease a bit. Don’t just take my word for it, though – do your own research by all means. In fact, please do.  And as always, any questions, please ask. 

Western (or conventional) medicine makes us feel very comfortable. Well, it does me, anyway.  Probably because it’s tried and true, or possibly because we’re just used to it. Some would even say programmed or brainwashed. Not me, but some.  

 According to ‘Western Medicine’ is defined as:  

“A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, conventional medicine, mainstream medicine, and orthodox medicine.” 

Then you have Traditional Medicine.  

Traditional medicine encompasses health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being. ( 

Traditional medicines include complementary and alternative medicines – or CAMs.  

 Massage, acupuncture, reflexology and Chiropractic Medicine are all CAMs according to Health NSW ( By the way, this PDF has some really valuable information and is really well laid out and easy to navigate. Well worth having a look at if you need some clarity on what’s what. 

So, we have traditional and conventional medicine.  

I think we’re all pretty familiar with the conventional stuff (GP’s surgeons, nurses, pharmaceuticals, etc), but the traditional stuff maybe less so. In particular, the difference between alternative and complementary when it comes to medicine or therapies. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary (  

 Alternative (adj.):  something that is different from something elseespecially from what is usual, and offering the possibility of choice. 

Complementary (adj.): different but useful or attractive when used together. 

I think I have mentioned in a previous article that I don’t use the term ‘alternative’ when referring to Reiki. Or to any other therapy, for that matter. This is just my personal opinion, but I don’t believe there is a useful alternative medicine or therapy when it comes to treating some conditions, particularly physical ones.  

The word ‘alternative’ kind of implies that a person is shunning all conventional therapies and medicines to treat an ailment. Which can be OK if we’re talking about mild anxiety, insomnia or perhaps the occasional headache. However, there are people (if we can call them that) who will con others into believing that aromatherapy can cure cancer and other such fairy tales.  

For example – not long ago I watched a documentary series about the wellness industry on Netflix called ‘(Un)Well’. (By the way, HIGHLY recommend checking it out if you can). The episodes cover Tantra, Aromatherapy, ayahuasca (ah-yu-wah-skuh), extreme fasting (yeah, right, #girlcaneat) among a couple of other things. As a complementary therapist, I thought the series gave a really well-balanced view of it all, and it kind of helps illustrate what I’m trying to say here.  

I’ll refer to the episodes on Tantra and Aromatherapy –  

Say your sex life has stalled. You and yours don’t have any other real issues, it’s just getting a bit boring in the boudoir. Look into tantra. Go for it. No harm can be done provided you sort out your safe word (I don’t know if you need a safe word. I don’t think that’s how tantra works). Find a therapist and go hard, so to speak. The worst that can happen is you’re a few dollars lighter and still getting frustrated and scrolling Porn Hub. No serious physical or mental harm done. 

The episode on Aromatherapy tells a different story, and put me off one particular MLM essential oil brand for life (starts with the letter D….yeah, you get it). Having said that, this particular episode illustrates perfectly the difference between alternative and complementary when it comes to therapies and treatments.  

In the right corner, we have an Aromatherapist. In the left corner, a middle-class, 30-something, white woman who’s sitting at super-mega-diamond level in her MLM scheme. Er, I mean, her ‘wellness business’. 

The aromatherapist does work in a hospital, using aromatherapy to calm patients before and after surgery. The case they followed in the episode was that of a guy who had had some form of surgery (can’t remember what) and the Doctors needed him to start walking around, but he was frightened to do so because of the pain. This woman used aromatherapy to calm him enough to willingly do what the doctors needed him to in order to hasten his recovery.  

BRILLIANT use of complementary therapy, and hats off to the medical professionals who are open to it.  

Now to our wellness advocate, selling essential oils (which I love, by the way) and spruik-ing that drinking essential oil cured her cancer. Ex-squeeze me? (insert angry face here). Another woman said that she lied to her daughter’s school (if memory serves) about treating her cancer with essential oil rather than chemo or radio therapy because if she told them the truth she’d be ‘reported for child abuse’. Frankly, I should hope so. 

This kind of carry on is irresponsible at best and criminal at worst, and it’s what gives CAM therapists a bad name. It’s using a therapy as an alternative in the worst possible way. If they had used aromatherapy in a complementary fashion to help ease the side-effects of the conventional treatment, then fantastic. But to sell them as a total alternative? Just, no. 

I, personally, believe no one should ever disregard conventional medicine. Ever. In my opinion, complementary therapies are just that – complementary. They are there to work hand in hand with the conventional stuff.  

From what I have read online, many medical professionals appear to enjoy ‘debunking’ CAMs, and are very closed minded, refusing to believe they are of any benefit at all. I even found one site where the auther referred to them as SCAMs – ‘So-Called Complementary and Alternative therapies’.  Bit rude.  

 While I am not a fan of avoiding conventional medicine, and will be the first one to denounce a therapist for stating that acupuncture can cure diabetes, I don’t think these opinions are 100% fair either. And to be honest, probably not very well researched, as the authors will be going in with preconceived ideas on the subject.   

I really do hope that one day more medical professionals were a bit more open minded to using complementary therapists. Just look at the example of the aromatherapist working with anxious patient.  How good is that? If some lavender oil on a hanky is going to calm someone enough so that they can begin their recovery, that can only be good, can’t it?  I would dearly love one day, to perform Reiki work in a hospital, helping patients before and after surgery with anxiety or even pain management. Any midwives out there……wanna chat?  

Complementary therapies working right alongside conventional medicine, to provide the absolute best and total care and treatment possible – how good would THAT be? 

‘Placebo Effect’

[placebo effect]


placebo effect (noun) · placebo effects (plural noun)

  1. a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.

So, what we’re really asking is – are the effects of Reiki (positive or negative) all in our heads?

Not at all – but then, I’m a Reiki practitioner. Of COURSE I’m going to say that 😊

As we know, it is easy peasy to find articles to suit any argument. Obviously, and article on is going to tell you that Reiki is a proven method of treatment and in no way a placebo. I happen to agree with that opinion, but I don’t expect you to.

So perhaps we are better off looking at this from another angle – let’s assume Reiki IS nothing more than a placebo. That any benefits are all in our heads. Then maybe the question we need to ask is ‘is the placebo effect therapeutic?’

I had a bit of trouble finding Australian studies or articles on placebos, but I did manage to find some pretty cool info at

The article states that in reality, we still don’t know how placebos work. However, here are a few theories I have quoted directly from the above website:

  • a change in behaviour – the placebo may increase a person’s motivation to take better care of themselves. Improved diet, regular exercise or rest may be responsible for the easing of their symptoms
  • altered perception – the person’s interpretation of their symptoms may change with the expectation of feeling better. For example, they may interpret a sharp pain as an uncomfortable tingling instead
  • reduced anxiety – taking the placebo and expecting to feel better may be soothing and reduce the levels of stress chemicals the body produces, such as adrenaline
  • brain chemicals – placebos may trigger the release of the body’s own natural pain relievers, the brain chemicals known as endorphins
  • altered brain state – research indicates that the brain responds to an imagined scene in much the same way as it responds to an actual visualised scene. A placebo may help the brain to remember a time before the onset of symptoms, and then bring about change to the body. This theory is called ‘remembered wellness’. 
  •  the characteristics of the placebo – if the pill looks real, the person taking it is more likely to believe that it contains medicine. Research shows that larger sized pills suggest a stronger dose than smaller pills, and taking two pills appears to be more potent than swallowing just one. Generally, injections have a more powerful placebo effect than pills
  • the person’s attitude – if the person expects the treatment to work, the chances of a placebo effect are higher, but placebos can still work even if the person is sceptical of success. The power of suggestion is at work here
  • doctor–patient relationship – if the person trusts their health care practitioner, (or in my case, Reiki practitioner – I’ll just stick that bit in there) they are more likely to believe that the placebo will work.

Obviously, and I’ve covered a bit of this in a previous article ‘Alternate vs. Complementary Therapies’, don’t go using a placebo to treat anything serious. I don’t care what anyone says, the power of positive thinking will NOT make your diabetes disappear. It may help with symptoms, though.

An article on the website quotes Dr Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, (whose research focuses on the placebo effect):

“Placebos won’t lower your cholesterol or shrink a tumor. Instead, placebos work on symptoms modulated by the brain, like the perception of pain. “Placebos may make you feel better, but they will not cure you,” says Kaptchuk. “They have been shown to be most effective for conditions like pain management, stress-related insomnia, and cancer treatment side effects like fatigue and nausea.”

Thank you, Dr Ted.

So – is Reiki a placebo? I know that it isn’t.

But even if it was, if you walk out of a treatment feeling more relaxed, less anxious, with diminished pain and feeling a whole lot better about life and the world in general……how much does it really matter? 

As always, don’t take my word for it. Do your own research, make up your own mind and go with what’s best for you 🙂