Is Reiki a complementary or alternative therapy?  What’s the difference?

This is a question I had myself.  I’ve heard the terms Alternative Therapy and Alternative Medicine for many years, but I’m also hearing Cmplementary Therapy being used more now.  The terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference.  Here’s what Southwestern Ontario Hospice Palliative Care Education Program and St. Joseph’s Health Care London say about the two.

Complementary Therapies

In recent years there has been a growing interest in Complementary Therapies.  In this program, the term Complementary Therapies is used rather than Alternative Therapies.  The distinction is important:

  1. Alternative Therapy
    • Choice between one or another therapy; one is chosen to the exclusion of others.
  2. Complementary Therapy
    • That which completes or supplies a deficiency.
    • Adds the psychosocial and spiritual component to a holistic care approach.
    • Many of these therapies open the person’s spirit to experiences that transcend the pain of the presnt experience and provide insight, comfort, peace, and meaning.

~~Southwestern Ontario Hospice Palliative Care Education Program and St. Joseph’s Health Care London

They have a long list of Complementary Therapies that includes Reiki, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Aromatheraphy, Healing Touch, Meditation, Music Therapy, Osteopathy, Reflexology, Tai Chi, Visualization, and Yoga.

You can read Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Health: What’s In A Name? on the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health Website (an agency of the U.S. Federal Government) for more information on these terms.

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