Discovering My Wings: How Reiki helped me write a book, reinvent my psychotherapy business, and help others do the same

By Kara Kihm, psychotherapist, coach, and author of “Discovering My Wings”

Let’s just say my life hasn’t gone as planned. I grew up in the American dream with two smart, stable, accomplished parents who gave me everything I needed to become just like them. And for a while, I did just that. I married my high school sweetheart, bought a house in a very nice neighborhood in Richmond, VA, and became a psychotherapist and empowerment coach. My goal was to help others live the lives of their dreams, just like I was doing.

And then life happened.

As hard as I tried, my marriage unraveled. During my devastating divorce, I decided the best idea — the only thing to do, honestly — was to take a break. People who had known me were shocked by my decision to leave everything behind and redefine it all. From the outside, it appeared as though I had everything a girl could ever want. Yet, something in my soul knew there was more to life than waking up daily on the hamster wheel conforming to rigid norms.

I asked myself, what did I really want to do next? The first thought that came to mind was to get in my car with my dogs and drive as far away from Virginia as possible. I wanted to surround myself with nature and discover who I was in this new phase of my life. That’s what I did. I packed a van with just what I needed and headed to Alaska.

Realizations about my life began happening with each state line I crossed. Immediately, I knew my job as a traditional therapist wasn’t actually helping people heal in the ways that I wanted for them. Worse than that, I feared the traditional therapeutic approach was keeping my clients stuck in old patterns. 

Mostly, I started getting honest with myself. I wasn’t truly alive. How could I find the blessings given to me in the storm I faced? 

The answers started arriving when I had the opportunity to live in the home of a Reiki Master in Portland, Oregon. I had never experienced Reiki, much less considered becoming a Reiki Master. When my roommate, Aura, decided to hold a training she told me it was the program for me. “This ancient tradition believes when someone’s life force energy is low, we are more likely to get sick, and if it is high, we are healthy and relaxed,” Aura explained. “The practitioner helps to promote energy in the client’s body for healing. This is just what you need to heal yourself and others.”

That night I meditated on Aura’s words. I trusted her, as well as her friend Samantha, who provides Reiki in the oncology unit at a local hospital, and was co-facilitating the class. I have worked on psychiatric units, in hospitals, and in schools, and I have seen the many forms trauma can take. Could Reiki and energy work be the missing link for healing trauma? 

I knew intuitively that this course would change my life. It felt like a wink from God.

I spent two days in intense training with Aura and Samantha learning the history of Reiki and how to become a channel for energy. When I emerged from my training, the world looked brighter, and I felt connected to a sense of oneness I had never known. 

I could somehow sense and feel other people’s energy in a new way. I could even tune into people’s energy from a distance, and my intuition was stronger than it had ever been. When friends would call or text, I could feel their presence immediately before the phone lit up. I started having vivid visions and dreams that came to fruition. I couldn’t explain these experiences, nor did I fully understand them. All I knew was that an entirely new world had opened up to me. I later went on to become a Reiki Master while traveling through Peru.

Reiki and intuition became a part of my healing journey, and it would open an avenue for me professionally as well. I began to see my professional path in a new light. I saw how clients’ needed psychotherapy and energy work to heal the body, mind, and spirit. It was clear that I needed to treat the whole person, not just the mind. I had a sense of clarity that my credentials as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Reiki Master (RMT) would allow me to use an integrative approach focusing on the connection of mind, body, and spirit to nurture each individual client as a whole being. 

When I returned from my journey, I opened Discovering Your Wings, a private practice that with Reiki uses traditional therapy models such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Somatic Experiencing (SE). I also incorporate meditative practices, breathing techniques, and imagery.

I also have a beautiful daughter and have created a new life for myself in a supportive community near Atlanta, Georgia. 

I have written about my travels and my introduction to Reiki in my book, Discovering My Wings. It describes my journey as a constant deconstruction and redefining of identity, from the perfect southern woman to a gritty, fierce, intuition-following adventurer. Reiki found me on my journey, and it’s been a transformative practice for my clients and me ever since. 

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