Actually, it’s not that easy to do.

Several years ago, Dr. Pamela Potter was supervising Reiki volunteers at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut as a doctoral candidate in the School of Nursing.

She’s qualified, if anyone is, to distinguish between these two disciplines.

According to Dr. Potter, “The differences between Reiki and therapeutic touch (TT) are not found in the outcomes, which include relaxation, decreased anxiety, feelings of well-being, and healing.” In fact, she continues, “The distinctions between TT and Reiki appear to be qualitative” as opposed to quantitative.

What about the implications for research?

Planning studies to evaluate the effectiveness of Reiki and TT pose several challenges. For example, “when Reiki is compared to mock treatment in a control group there is the risk that benign touch will exert treatment effects beyond placebo. Another research challenge is to choose healers from those who represent the modality being studied as purely as possible. Yet, many healers are hybrid healers … who use a composite of healing techniques.”

Dr. Potter is currently on faculty at the University of Portland, in Oregon. The fact that she is addressing these issues is a positive sign for both disciplines. I wish her success.

7/6/06 19:23 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.