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 also teaches classes and workshops about Reiki and spiritual growth. She works often with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Infinite Reiki, Infinite Healing: How Energy Medicine Healed my Life and What It Can do for Yours. Reiki and a healthy lifestyle contributed to her healing after a 20-year struggle with neurological and chronic pain issues. She comes out the other side with a new perspective on life and now seeks to empower others, guiding them back to their own innate healing abilities. You can follow her at:,,


  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • Judy,
      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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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??

    • Justin,
      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.

  6. 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.

  7. Hello
    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

    • Kevin,
      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,
      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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

    • Paris,
      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.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  12. 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??

    • 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.

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