Reiki and PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. Relatives or friends may tell you that it's all in your head, you can shake it off ... it's not real ... but it is very real!

PTSD is a severe condition that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal (high levels of anxiety) continue for more than a month after the traumatic event.

According to, most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers—and military combat is the most common cause in men—but any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends or family members of those who went through the actual trauma.

PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.

Traumatic events that can lead to PTSD include:

  • War
  • Natural disasters
  • Car or plane crashes
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sudden death of a loved one
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Assault
  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Childhood neglect
Common symptoms of PTSD:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Feeling alienated and alone
  • Physical aches and pains

How Reiki can help!

As part of the sympathetic nervous system, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it – “Fight or Flight” response. With PTSD, the body can get "stuck" in this response.

A normal response to trauma becomes PTSD when you become stuck.

After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.

As a result, the person's body becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds. The impact of long-term or constant stress from PTSD means it takes more energy for our bodies to recover, and you experience the many symptoms of this disorder.

The greatest benefits that have been reported from Reiki treatments is stress reduction, a sense of deep relaxation and relief from that feeling of "anxiety". The overall response to this state is your system shifts into parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) dominance. This means the body’s priority is to recover, heal and restore itself – “Rest & Digest”.

Reiki treatments may help your body to get "un-stuck". The nervous system can then shift from being in
the "fight or flight" response to "rest and digest" ... and it has a better chance to heal.

Reiki & the Military

There is an amazing group of people who are part of the Midwest Reiki Community (MRC) who bring Reiki to the Military. This group supports the healing endeavors of each individual practicing Reiki in the Midwest.

The MRC was invited for the second year in a row to participate in Stand Down, a Department of Veterans Affairs event providing community and services for homeless Veteran held on June 21 and 22, 2013 at the National Guard Armory in Chicago.

Stand Downs are organized across the country and are typically one to three day events providing  homeless Veterans services such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies who serve the homeless.

Listen to these Vets explain how Reiki impacted them, relieved their stress and pain and helped them feel more at peace.
Statistics indicate that more than 40,000 soldiers who have served in those arenas have been diagnosed with PTSD, and the government will spend over $600,000,000 in 2013 to treat soldiers with PTSD.

Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center - Texas

In July of 2007, Dr. John Fortunato, a Vietnam veteran, clinical psychologist and former Benedictine monk started the Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience center in Texas. The center, which offers meditation, yoga, massage and Reiki in addition to other holistic healing methods, was praised by both the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (in office 2006 – 2011) as well as Army Chief of Staff General George Casey (in office 2007 – 2011) who has been quoted as saying the program, which treats soldiers returning from deployment and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), should be replicated throughout the military. The current program is for soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, experienced PTSD or other trauma and want to stay in the Army. 

“Post-traumatic stress disorder can make a Soldier feel very alone and very confused, says Vicki Thomas (chief of the center). But, when they’re in a room full of other Soldiers and see an NCO they look up to and respect going through the same thing, it makes it more acceptable. More importantly, it makes it more understandable. Group is so powerful."

Thomas cited one way Reiki, a method of healing using touch, could be used by the Soldiers. “Reiki doesn’t always involve touch,” said Thomas. “It’s a way to take your physiological processes and learn to manage them yourself naturally rather than taking medication. With bio-feedback one takes his or her physiological processes and learns how to manage them through calming other physiological systems. The center has both group and one-on-one meetings.”

In addition to what the military is doing, other organizations, such as offer Reiki as well as other mind/body services to veterans and their families, usually either for free or for a discounted price. Massage therapists and other practitioners can sign up with this organization to become involved in this program.

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