Christopher Moyer, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology who has done research on anxiety, depression, and massage therapy. He recently co-authored the book Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice. Active in many online discussions, Moyer has been a voice for science literacy and research literacy in the field of massage therapy. Through his online comments, he has patiently and generously mentored many massage therapists who aspire to be more science-based and research literate. In a recent FaceBook discussion, Moyer raised the question: why is continuing education credit, required for some professional memberships and state licensing, granted for classes in Reiki?
For those who may not be familiar with the term, Reiki is a type of "energy work" in which practitioners place their hands either on or above the body of the recipient in the belief that they are transmitting "universal energy" to the recipient and somehow effecting healing. There is no scientific evidence to support either the existence of this universal energy or the efficacy of Reiki to promote healing beyond a placebo effect.
During the online discussion, one massage therapist asked Moyer how he could say that Reiki does not work when there is research that supposes to support the efficacy of Reiki treatments. In this seventeen minute video, Moyer answers the question in detail. He examines the difference between a valid study and a poorly designed study and the quality of most Reiki "research." In particular, he looks at one study that was published in a respectable journal and explains exactly why the study does not demonstrate the efficacy of Reiki but, in fact, merely reinforces what we already know: human beings respond to caring and compassionate touch and focused attention. One does not need to add an unproved and implausible "energy field" to explain a positive response to a Reiki treatment.
Moyer explains his points about research and about Reiki carefully and clearly. I recommend this video to all massage therapists. It may also be of interest to anyone wishing to better understand the difference between well-designed research and poorly designed research, "energy work" in general, and Reiki in particular.