Setting up a Reiki clinic within a NHS Mental Health Service

Jennifer Gordon – Winner of CHP Therapist of the Year 2021

I was both humbled and delighted to win the CHP Therapist of the Year Award 2021, and I was subsequently asked to submit a brief article describing my journey as a therapist and the reason for my selection and success. My hope is that it may help other complementary therapists who are thinking of working within the NHS.

My name is Jenny, and I have been a qualified mental health nurse for 15 years. I work within an older persons day hospital setting, which was closed when the COVID epidemic began in 2020, but is now reopen once again. I qualified as a Reiki practitioner after experiencing the healing benefits myself during my recovery from a critical illness a few years ago. I love the ethos of Reiki; it is a way of life that supports self-development and not just a healing modality.

About the day hospital: Patients at the day hospital are referred by their GP or via community mental health teams. Typically, people are experiencing significant mental health issues, and the day hospital prevents people from deteriorating further and from being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

After gaining my original Reiki qualification, I went on to successfully complete a Reiki bridging course via CHP. This learning ensured that my Reiki skills and knowledge are in line with National Occupational Standards and the Reiki Council's requirements and on completion of this, I was able to register with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Complementary Health professionals as my professional association, uphold the highest standards and all members can be proud of their constant work to ensure that our profession is respected within a wider healthcare setting.

I have a special interest in the integration of complementary therapies alongside conventional healthcare and treatment and I was very keen to explore how my Reiki qualification could offer benefits to our NHS day hospital patients.

Beginning phase – why do I want to do it, and how am I going to do it?

I knew there was evidence to suggest Reiki may be useful to help manage mental health conditions, particularly anxiety, stress and depression. Based on this research, I proposed that the day hospital pilot a reiki clinic. Approval for the Reiki pilot was agreed at management and consultant level, which was essential in order to take the proposal forward.

In order to measure the effects of Reiki and patient satisfaction it was agreed that the following information would be gathered as part of the Reiki pilot: qualitative feedback from patients; a rating scale of mood and anxiety (to be taken before and after a course of Reiki sessions) and a patient satisfaction rating scale.

As part of the risk assessment for the Reiki clinic I consulted with the CHP Reiki officer, Dan Stephens FCHP regarding known Reiki cautions and contraindications. This information was used to develop protocols for the Reiki service. Patients are monitored very closely on the day hospital and it is staffed by a team of qualified medical and nursing professionals. Furthermore, arrangements for additional support and follow up can made if required, i.e. in the event that a patient experiences an emotional release or other healing response that may require attention. Specific protocols and bespoke documentation for the Reiki clinic were subsequently devised, such as Reiki consent forms, risk assessments, infection control protocol, all in line with existing NHS policies.

The Second phase – rolling the clinic out and the challenge of demystifying Reiki

Once protocols had been agreed, the next step in the process of introducing Reiki to the service was to offer staff Reiki taster sessions and offer presentations of the proposed clinic. My strong intention was to de mystify and destigmatise Reiki to others. The taster sessions provided staff with an opportunity to understand Reiki and its benefits through experience. This way staff members gained improved understanding in preparation for discussing Reiki with patients. The taster sessions were initially met with some scepticism, but I kept chipping away at people, and eventually they proved extremely popular. I also delivered presentations to wider services to explain what was happening so staff were informed. Topics covered were a broad introduction of the history and practice of Reiki and how Reiki could fit into the day hospital’s treatment pathways.

What’s on the horizon for the Reiki clinic?

Feedback from patient experience is incredibly positive with Reiki becoming a valued part of the day hospital service. Reiki is now available to our patients alongside conventional interventions such as medication, psychology work and other input.

As part of service improvement, consideration is already being given ways to the Reiki Service could develop and grow. I’m extremely grateful for the support I received; it’s essential for anyone setting up a Reiki clinic to have the full support of their manager. A program of Reiki-based practices is to be developed and offered to patients alongside Reiki sessions. Invitations to link in with other services have been received and I’m very excited and honoured to be recognised for this work. It has been a lot of work, but it is something I am extremely proud of and determined to see through. I always put the principles of Reiki at the heart of what I plan for the future as it is personally very important for me to be aligned to the philosophy within Reiki.

If you would like to contact Jenny and ask her any specific questions, please do email the CHP office and we will pass on your query. Complementary Health Professionals is a member of the Reiki Council and a verifying organisation for the CNHC for its Reiki Register in the UK.

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