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The Healing Crisis

Article by Angie Webster

Sometimes it can feel discouraging when we treat someone with Reiki and they don’t get better. It can feel worse to us when they feel their symptoms increase right after a Reiki treatment. When someone feels an increase in symptoms shortly after a Reiki treatment, it is often due to a healing crisis. A healing crisis can also occur after being attuned to Reiki. It is not a sign that something has gone wrong with the Reiki or that it is not working to heal the person. It is actually quite the opposite!

The healing crisis can happen to anyone being treated with or attuned to Reiki. It does not happen with everyone. It is most frequently seen in those who have just begun getting Reiki treatments or those who have not had a treatment in a long time. However, everyone is different. Some might have no healing crisis at all, others may have a healing crisis occur after several treatments, and others may have regular Reiki treatments for years and have a healing crisis. It is not a good idea to compare one person’s experience with another. We are much more than our bodies, and Reiki flows to stimulate self healing at a very deep level by bringing the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical into balance.

Image by Karen_O’D

When a person has a healing crisis, it can sometimes look as if the problem they wished to get relief from has worsened. When the heightening of symptoms after a Reiki treatment is temporary, this is almost always due to a healing crisis. It is an indication that the system is rebalancing and clearing away that which does not serve its purposes any longer. To illustrate why this might happen, imagine you plan to clean out a drawer and organize its contents. This process will create temporary disarray as you remove the contents. As you sort through, you will undoubtedly discover things you are no longer using or that you no longer want in your life. These things have to be purged before you continue. Once you have done that, you can place the remaining contents neatly back into the drawer. The disarray was necessary for the organization to take place.

When we give a Reiki treatment, the Reiki continues to work toward the person’s healing long after the session has ended. Remember it is intelligent energy that works with the natural energy of the person receiving the treatment. Reiki is intelligent and knows where it needs to go and for how long it is required to work in cooperation with the Higher Self of the person being treated in order to achieve the greatest and highest good.

Aside from a worsening of symptoms, some people feel very tired in the 12-48 hours after a Reiki treatment, or need to urinate or move their bowels more frequently. Some people notice they are much more emotional. Others may feel as if they are coming down with a cold or flu for several hours to a day. It is important that we advise those we treat to honor the needs of their body. If rest is what the body asks for, rest should be given. Their system is healing and this can be hard work, so it is a good idea to support the process. Extra water is highly recommended as well.

When a person feels badly, they may wonder if something is wrong. While unpleasant symptoms after receiving Reiki do not necessarily mean that there is a problem, it can happen that a new problem arises after the Reiki treatment. A person should always use their own internal guidance to make the best judgment for themselves regarding if a health care practitioner should be contacted.

Angie Webster
Angie Webster

Angie Webster is a Reiki Master, Teacher, and Author. Angie’s primary focus is animal Reiki, which she adores. She teaches online classes on energy healing, flower essences, herbalism, and personal growth. Angie often works with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Animal Reiki: How it Heals, Teaches & Reconnects Us with Nature and Reiki from A to Z. You can follow her at: angie-webster-healing.teachable.com and on Facebook (facebook.com/angiewebsterhealing).

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Anuradha Ramakrishnan August 4, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Hi. Its quite an encouraging article for those who feel sometimes reiki does not work. God gives a new hope

  • Anuradha Ramakrishnan August 4, 2013, 2:29 pm

    Dear Sunetra.

    Is it possible that few cases are not at all healable by even Reiki Masters? Why is it so? I am referring to one of my client who was mentally sick from birth. Your views would sooth my disappointment.

    Love and Light.

    • Angie Webster August 4, 2013, 7:18 pm

      Anuradha Ramakrishnan,
      Thank you for the kind words about my article. In regard to your client, remember that curing is not the same thing as healing. Curing is meant to aim at the elimination of physical signs of disorder or illness with the belief that this means the person is healed. Healing means that the person is expanding and integrating as a whole being, on all levels–mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. As healers, we can not know all the levels of growth and healing that a person needs to accomplish in this life or why their soul chooses to achieve that growth in the ways it does. This is why we need to send Reiki with the intention that the greatest and highest good be brought about, not the intention that a specific condition be eliminated.

  • Judy August 4, 2013, 4:22 pm

    Very good article. I have encountered people where the healing lasts for a brief period, and I believed it was also because they were not as open to the healing as they should be.

    • Angie Webster August 4, 2013, 7:21 pm

      I agree that the more a person is blocking their reception of healing, the less healing can occur. Even when a healing seems to be taking place, it is possible for the person to not allow it, at a subconscious level.

  • Vanessa Forner August 5, 2013, 9:59 am

    Thank you Angie for excellent article.
    I agree the person wanting healing must be open, although I believe Reiki healing is not an event but a process.. So already Dr Usui noticed how important is for the patient to take responsibility for their own healing and make their own commitments in their every day life for long lasting results.

  • muzna June 23, 2014, 10:32 am

    Recently there was a case when i got stuck , as Reiki would not flow. After a few days there was a situation When the ladygot sick, but during healing the lady’s daughter’s face surfaced when i was on it, and would not go, so i gave her healing and then finally could give to mother.It was as if their issues together were blocking the flow. Have told them to sort out, both to write a diary and giving healing to both.
    Most important …. had asked Archangel Michael for guidance on that day.Minor point meditation music helped a lot.

  • Justin June 23, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Fascinating article…. great discussion of healing verses curing … I never want a client to get the wrong idea.

    If a patient has a particular illness, how should we tell them that reiki can help??

    • Angie Webster June 23, 2014, 4:31 pm

      For most people, I just tell them that Reiki induces the relaxation response which triggers the body’s own natural healing and helps bring the mind, body and immune system into balance. If the person has a better understanding of energy movement, meridians, etc., I may explain a bit more about how the energy flows through the body. I don’t offer any promises about how it will effect a particular illness, as each person is different and on their own unique path.

  • Ester Avila July 21, 2014, 12:41 am

    Great article, I Did distant work on a frien and she felt terrible after it, she had diarrhea, nausea and light headed, I felt bad, however after her body got done getting rid of all that it neede she felt great and asked that I do more work on her.

  • kevin September 3, 2014, 2:48 pm

    If someone is suffering from anxiety & depression & has done reiki healing .can it expecta healing crisis to start after2 days & have the same symptoms of depression

    • Angie Webster September 3, 2014, 9:24 pm

      Depression and anxiety are fairly ingrained and long term issues that have manifested over a long period. It usually takes more than one healing session to really initiate a long lasting change with these issues. It is possible this person is having a healing crisis, for sure. And a healing crisis with anxiety and depression can feel very intense and emotional, like being on a roller coaster. But someone with these issues should truly have a series of Reiki treatments to get the fullest benefit, preferably very close together at first, in part to support the client through the stormy healing crisis. In addition, it is often a very good idea to recommend a supportive counselor to help the client lean to establish new patterns now that they have made the choice to begin their healing journey.

  • kevin September 4, 2014, 3:51 am

    What are the chakra mostly to work on for curing depression foreover

  • kevin September 4, 2014, 3:52 am

    How long the healing crisis is supposed to last

    • Angie Webster September 4, 2014, 1:59 pm

      I advise you to speak with your practitioner directly about these things, as they are different for each individual and no specific answer can be given. Also, please understand that healing is not the same as “cure”. Healing is a cyclical process, meaning many healing crises can occur during the process as old layers are removed and healed. As you start the healing journey, you find it is not a process that is done to you, but one you participate in. You do it more yourself, with the support of your healer.

  • Anna October 29, 2014, 9:02 am

    I was attuned about 3 years ago to Reiki 1 and Reiki 2 in one weekend, which I have found out since is not to be recommended! I suffered a healing crisis for some months afterwards, having a bout of asthma, something that I used to suffer from as a child. I have only really used Reiki on myself and occasionally for distance healing, but it really didn’t figure in my life much. I haven’t really felt convinced that I have been attuned properly. Recently however, I have been drawn to Reiki again. My yoga teacher has suggested that she reattunes me to Reiki 2. Is this the best thing for me to do? I would be so grateful for any advice.

    • Angie Webster October 29, 2014, 6:36 pm

      Anna, if you are feeling newly drawn to Reiki and you question your attunement, then it won’t harm you to have a second one. I would suggest that you make it a practice to do daily self Reiki treatments, at least for 10 minutes or so every day. Do this especially in the 60 days leading up to the attunement. The reason is that the daily treatments keep your energy system more clear and keep you more in tune with the energy flowing through you. It also keeps toxins flushed from your system, making any healing crisis possibly less intense than it would otherwise be. If you keep this as a practice after you are re-attuned, you may feel more in touch with the Reiki energy than you did the first time. Daily self practice is a key part of becoming attuned and can’t be left off. It is much like anything you train in. If you stop practicing it, you will become rusty and it will no longer feel familiar to you. In the case of someone newly learning, if you don’t make it a habit in the beginning, it may never feel like a true skill.

  • Denise December 10, 2014, 7:03 am

    Wonderful article Angie! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, it is very insightful.

    Love & Blessings.

  • Premila Sairamchander April 10, 2015, 9:07 am

    Hi Angie….I had healing crisis for a week. Had high fever, body ache , cold etc . Though I had my menopause five years before attunement , I had heavy bleeding for five days.. I called up my practioner/ Reiki teacher to know what it’s all about. After getting convinced by her, I really felt very pure, light in body& mind . This was in 1997. Since then I’m practicing Reiki for myself & also heal others who approach me Thanks a lot for sharing such a nice article.

  • Soniele June 20, 2015, 5:34 pm

    I love this article! I have read it so many times, but I just love reading it time and again 🙂

  • Paris August 29, 2015, 10:40 am

    Hi Angie
    I’m currently giving reiki to my friend. He is stressed out with too much work load. He told me that he felt good the first 2-3 days but now he feels tired. I’m giving him distance reiki, as he lives abroad. It’s been more than 12 days now since I’m giving him reiki and he is saying that he is not feeling different. But he feels tired and miserable. Work is overloaded. He felt better and good only the first too days

    • Angie Webster August 31, 2015, 3:29 pm

      If your friend is continuing to worsen, then it is important that he have a medical check-up. Twelve days is not a healing crisis as these are typically no longer than 72 hours. It is a good idea that your friend seek a medical check up to ensure that there is no underlying condition which could be treated along with Reiki. If your friend feels that it is the ongoing stress which is creating the fatigue and drain, then counseling may be a good partner with Reiki to help him find a way to shift his lifestyle or to better cope with the one he has.

  • Finally Florida February 24, 2016, 3:29 am

    Angie, I gave Reiki to a hospice patient who was calm before and during the treatment. After 20 minutes her pain grew intense. So she got worse with y treatment. The family was extremely hopeful with the Reiki as she had a morning appointment that proved to be successful. My turn at it was anything but. This actually happened to me one other time where they wanted Reiki because their previous dose was so successful and mine proved to have no effect whatsoever. Both hospice patients. Any advice? I feel awful of course.

    • Serenity Energy Healing February 24, 2016, 5:31 pm

      It sounds as if you did a second Reiki treatment after the patient had had one earlier that day, but I am not sure I am clear on that. It is hard to say for sure what created the increase in the client’s pain, but a couple of things come to mind as possibilities. The first treatment would have brought to the surface anything that needed to clear & balance and that would have been still working itself out later that day, and even as much as a few days later. This is part of the healing crisis that many people feel, though some have no symptoms that are obvious. Energy is always working to re-balance after a Reiki session. Having a second session so soon may have intensified the healing crisis for her. It is also possible that the movement of energy was felt very intensely by this client as it worked to re-balance her, yet I feel that if she was doing well during the treatment, and was calm, then that is unlikely. A session can sometimes be offered soon after a session to assist with a healing crisis, but it can be best to do a shorter session or a distant session and to do it with the intention of assisting the healing crisis. Don’t fear that Reiki did any harm to her, as it won’t harm anyone. However, it may have felt very intense as it did it’s work in this case. The lasting results are beneficial, not harmful.

      • Finally Florida February 25, 2016, 12:16 am

        This has been very helpful. Perhaps I’ll make sure not to double dose in the future. I had another unhappy client tonight as well. Someone I’ve been visiting regularly and has always responded favorably was relaxed when I was there and the Reiki made him agitated. Not a good week.
        Maybe I should take some time off.

  • Keven Jagoo-Chulu May 3, 2017, 9:46 am

    After an attunement, how long does the healing crisis last for? I got level one this past weekend, the next morning i woke up sick as a dog. That lasted for about a day or two then magically vanished, im continuing to practice meditation and reiki healing on myself but just wondering if im in for some unpleasent feelings later down the road??

    • Angie Webster Healing May 3, 2017, 5:59 pm

      Hi Keven, It sounds like you have already experienced your healing crisis in connection with your first attunement. It is possible to have a new healing crisis with each new attunement, so if you take future levels of Reiki, you may have another, though it may be entirely different–or completely absent. It is also possible for us to have small healing crises when we are going through a new growth phase in our life or when we seek a new form of energy treatment, or occasionally when seeking Reiki from a new practitioner. These are typically minor when doing daily self-Reiki.

  • Plume January 16, 2018, 10:31 am

    Hello Angie,
    Thank you for writing this article and explaining a bit more on healing crisis.
    I am aware as to what a healing crisis is for I have had it after intense healing sessions.
    Yet, I don’t know if I am going through one right now.
    I gave a reiki session to a family member of mine 2 days ago.
    I was feeling pretty sad and down already before I did, but I had told him that night that I was wanted to offer him reiki so I did.
    In the moment it helped calm me down and I felt better and very joyful when I worked with his heart chakra (he felt intense energy at that point too).
    Then, after our session I always enjoy sharing with the person I worked with, what our experience was.
    And I felt myself tear up and feel emotional and sad when I spoke that my dad feels the need for comfort, touch and love and I told him to give himself so much love.
    It made me wonder wether it was me or him who felt this way but turns out he really does feel this way as well as he shared a couple stories and burden of his with me.
    The next day, especially in the late afternoon, my sadness amplified and I would feel heavy-hearted and scared to the point of feeling a panic attack come up almost.
    But the strange thing is, I don’t know why I feel this way.
    Today still I feel sad and have cried but I don’t know why.
    I keep feeling in need of comfort and love.
    I just want to be held and soothed.
    In particular I feel something.
    I have always struggled with loving myself and hating myself is all too easy.
    Yet I know this sadness is calling for me to give myself love.
    I struggle a lot with my boyfriend in that I have found out I use his love as a way to supplement my own lack of self love rather then complement the love for myself.
    This has led to many insecurities, fears and pains and I understand what I must do in order to let go of this insecurity.
    I bring this up because no matter how loving he is with me, in the moments I feel this way, it always feel as if it’s not enough, or genuine or I long for more (doesn’t help he is long distance too).
    So I’ve been feeling this way and in need of comfort and love from other family members too (mainly my mom whom I do not live with at the moment).
    Yet I think maybe I’m only looking for outside comfort as a way to escape myself in a way.
    That maybe this moment is teaching me to give myself love rather then seek it from outside sources.
    I don’t know if this could be it.
    All I know is that I feel down for no reason I can understand.
    Do you think this may be a healing crisis?
    Thank you for reading and answering my message.

    • Angie Webster Healing January 17, 2018, 10:48 pm

      Hi Plume.
      You could be having a healing crisis. However, I think it is much more likely that you have taken energy from your client on yourself. It is very important to ground before, during and after a session, which will help to prevent that. Also, notice that you didn’t feel that way until you began to work with your client during your session together. That is a sure sign that you were sensing your client’s energy. When we do that and mistake it for our own, or become entangled in the emotional energy we sense or feel with the energy, we begin to carry the energy around with us as though it IS ours. Instead, it is much more helpful to take notice of what arises during a session, use it as a guide for how long to stay in a position or where to move next, and leave it at that. It is simply information; nothing more. It sounds as though this client was a relative. That can make it much more difficult to separate their emotions and energetic states from our own, simply because we are so energetically entangled with those we love and are related to. Until you can master the skill of noticing what is your energy and what belongs to another, it be most helpful to allow another practitioner treat your loved ones. In the mean time, practice working on this skill, as it is very necessary for those who are sensitive to energy and for those who wish to work in any healing field. You may find that using Bach Rescue Remedy or Mustard flower essence can help to clear the energy that you have picked up from that session so that you come back into balance.

      • Plume January 27, 2018, 5:44 am

        Thank you for your reply to my message Angie <:)
        I understand what you told me and I think that's what happened as well.
        I do have a bit of a hard time grounding myself or my client for sure.
        But I know the importance of what you have explained, and I do have much more to practice with that's true.
        I also know that (despite trying my best not to) I tend to give my energy to my client when I'm working with them.
        So this could be part of the reason for what happened.
        Noticing my energy from another's I find is difficult to do.
        But I know it's important not only to keep ourselves safe, but also to guide us through what needs to work through that's true.
        Yes, this client was a relative.
        I understand what you explained and it makes sense.
        While I do feel good when I give reiki and often times, so do my clients, I understand I have much more to practice and work on so I shall try.
        Thank you for your advice on what I can do in such situations.

  • debesh karki March 11, 2018, 5:14 am

    I am a Reiki practioner I. When i do hand healing on me, I get very sad and depressed. Is something bad going to happen or its just the release of supressed emotions? I would be happy to know

    • Angie Webster Healing March 11, 2018, 9:47 pm

      This is just emotional energy moving. It is nothing to be concerned about.

      • debesh karki March 12, 2018, 9:40 am

        Its been like 3 months. I am bewilder whether to continue or leave this. Sometime the emotional energy is so intense that i can’t handle it.

        • Angie Webster Healing March 12, 2018, 12:51 pm

          Debesh, the support of a helpful counselor can be very useful during times when we are processing extremely difficult emotions. If these emotions have been stuck within you for a very long time, you may benefit from having someone like this to support and guide you, in addition to self Reiki. By all means, do only what feels tolerable and comfortable. If what is arising feels too much, stop the your self Reiki session. Maybe shorter sessions, only 1-3 minutes at a time, would be most helpful for you at this time.

  • T June 5, 2018, 7:53 am


    I’ve been giving Reiki to my cat. He’s old, and we realized very late that his hind leg weakness & arthritis, incontinence and constipation issues were possibly due to kidney issues. He’s been on antibiotics for an acute UTI episode. He seemed better after Reiki at first, but the last 2 days, he looks like he’s purging (vomiting, incontinence, softer stools) and is eating very little because he feels miserable. It looks like a healing crisis, but I’m not sure.

    I’d been doing it about twice a day, mostly to relax him so he can sleep better. Also wanted to trigger his body into its own healing. But I think I may have overdone it and i didn’t anticipate he’d feel worse. Should I stop altogether for a few days?

    If this is a healing crisis, it’s really hard on his body, and I want to help, but not make things worse.

    How often should I do this anyway?
    Once a day? Few times a week?

  • Angela Webster June 5, 2018, 12:06 pm

    Please be sure to get your cat immediate vet cate. Reiki is a great supplement and supportive measure for medical help, but it is not meant to replace it. Sometimes Reiki provides emotional and spirtual support, along with physical comfort, even as the body is failing or in chronic illness.
    When using Reiki as support for your cat, let your cat lead and guide the process. Trust him to show you if he wants Reiki, when he’s done with the treatment, and how he would like you to do the session. He may prefer hands off, distant, or have only certain areas he wants to have treated. He will guide you, so be sure to pay attention to his body language, movement, etc. Only work with him when he seems receptive and stop/don’t start when he isn’t. That will help you to make sure he is getting Reiki in just the right way that is appropriate for him.

  • T June 6, 2018, 3:21 am

    Yes I do understand that Reiki is meant to be complementary, and not a replacement for medical care.
    He’s over 20, and we are trying to provide care for his ailments, lots of love and support and give him back the best quality of life we can, whilst not subjecting him too much to vet treatments. These may work faster but they only mitigate the issues and they are harsh given his age and physical condition. We do remain vigilant as to when intervention is needed. It’s a tough balance and a lot of work, but we realized that we needed to respect and work with his boundaries and preferences.

    He is highly sensitive, and has some anxiety issues, and seems to absorb our illnesses, issues and negativity too. So we do hope in Reiki to provide him emotional and spiritual support. Also working on myself, so he doesn’t feel responsible to try and ‘fix me’.

    I try working with him when he’s resting, and observe what level of contact he wants, or if he wants to be left alone or seems disinterested. Most of the time, he’s been receptive and he will just relax into it and sleep. That’s why it’s tricky to decide when and how much. When he’s feeling poorly and is resting a lot, I just leave him be. Resting is part of healing. This purging thing is very tough on him. Is it normal that it has happened several times, and does that correlate to having long standing health issues. ie the body is trying to heal itself bit by bit? So we would see relapse episodes in between periods of improvement?

    Also, what I’ve observed is twitching (mini-shock) at certain areas of the body and sometimes, a pulling sensation that is trying to draw my hand closer. Is that all to be expected?

    We are not trying to fix him. His spirit is strong, even though his body is having it tough and we just want to provide ongoing support to facilitate him to do his own healing, at a rate that he can cope with and the extent he will allow. So that hopefully he has an easier/happier time as long as he chooses to stay with us.

  • Cindi loo April 26, 2019, 3:43 am

    I highly advise against Reiki, After ONE treatment I was so sick I literally felt like I was dying for the whole next day. I’ll keep my aches and pains. You couldnt pay me a million dollars to ever do Reiki again. I feel it almost killed me!

  • Sebrina Fair June 11, 2019, 4:13 pm

    Thank you, I had a session a week ago,and had a crisis for 8 days,but I know what it was, I was just wiped out,and stressed out,,but I feel so much better,, I wish I could find a good master in Tulsa Ok.,,

  • Juliet September 10, 2019, 10:43 pm

    My mother-in-law has a reiki session and said she felt depressed the next day and is now put off from going to the next two. Is that normal to feel depressed after?

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