Can I practice Reiki if I am not registered with an organisation?

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This question was asked in an article in a Reiki magazine a while ago.  As a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher (Master) with 20+ years of experience,  I disagreed with some of the points made by the author and wrote an article in reply.  Sadly, it was turned down for publication, but I still feel the points I wanted to make were valid and important for Reiki students and Practitioners to consider.  I also think that any article should be open to reply, and censoring balanced replies is not healthy, so I’m offering my reply here, slightly amended for my blog. 

The simple answer to the question is – YES, of course you can practice Reiki, whether you are ‘registered’ with an organisation or not.  The only thing you really do need and must have is insurance and it is possible to get that without registering with a third party.  There is currently NO legal requirement which says a Reiki Practitioner has to be registered with any organisation.  However, I felt this did not come across clearly in the article.  As a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher I felt the information in the article was confusing for students and potential students.

There is, in my mind, no difference between what was referred to in the article as a “Professional Practitioner” in Reiki, and a “Practitioner.”  The author may have had her own views on it, but she did not make it clear this was just her view.  There is no legal requirement for any Reiki Practitioner to register with any organisation, whatever sphere they may be working in.  This was not made clear either.  

The Department of Health currently only “recommends” that complementary therapists used by GP Practices, Hospices, Charities or Hospitals, should be CNHC or GRCCT registered.  It is not a requirement.  In my view this too was not clear from the article.

In 20+ years of Reiki practice and many years of teaching, I have never heard the term ‘Folk Art Practitioners’.  This very odd phrase was used in the article by the author to refer to those of us in the Reiki world who have trained via the traditional shorter courses – which is the only way Reiki has been taught until very recently, so covers the vast majority of Reiki Practitioners out there.  She also seemed to suggest that those doing traditional Reiki courses practice ‘only’ with family and friends, but this is absolutely not the case.  There are many thousands of Reiki Practitioners who work with clients and they trained in the traditional way.  And that includes me!  Given the long history of Reiki, most current Reiki Practitioners have trained traditionally, and work with the public. 

I am sorry, but I do not practice ‘Folk Art’ – whatever that might be - and I found the phrase insulting.  I practice Reiki, in a Professional capacity (that is, for paying clients), as well as for friends and family.

The article seemed to suggest that students who have ‘only’ done ‘short’ – that is, the usual, traditional 2-day courses - for Reiki I or Reiki II -  are just ‘practitioners in their own right’ – this was the author’s phrase – whatever she meant by that - and she used the lower case ‘p’ here for ‘practitioner’.   In my view every Reiki Practitioner is a Practitioner in their own right.  I introduce the issues around being a self-employed Reiki Practitioner in Reiki I, and cover them again in Reiki II.  This includes matters like insurance, confidentiality, note-keeping, health and safety, data protection and GDPR, client care, accounts and so on.  Students on these longer courses seem to be told that they ‘cannot’ get insurance until Reiki II.  This is not the case.  While some insurance companies may follow this line, others are happy to insure people after Reiki I. 

There was a quote given in the article and I could not understand why it was included.  As far as I could see it had no bearing on the issue.  (The quote referred specifically to practitioners in a particular organisation being ‘able to advise clients on a healthy lifestyle’).  This is certainly a good thing to do, but you do not need registration in order to encourage clients to live more healthily.  Registration with an organisational body does not imbue any therapist with knowledge of healthy living.  Any complementary therapist – not just Reiki Practitioners - can offer suggestions for healthy living to clients, and many, including me, have been doing it for years.     

I felt unhappy about the way the author seemed to imply that her “lesser” Reiki students (those doing the shorter, more usual, traditional courses) will not able to register with the CNHC (with whom I am registered), when in fact they can with a little experience.  I did all my Reiki training many years ago, but it was reasonably easy to register.  Just a matter of filling in a few forms and providing 3 years of accounts and some references.

Personally, I feel the modern NOS (National Occupational Standards) requirements for Reiki are far too much, and I think I am allowed an opinion on that.  More moderate requirements would have been fine.  Reiki is a simple, beautiful therapy, straightforward to learn, extremely safe, easily taught in a few days and, therefore, for students, relatively inexpensive.  It is not brain surgery.  Some Reiki students are being asked for 75 or more ‘case studies’ even at Reiki I level.  When I trained as a midwife – with the lives of not just one, but two people in my hands – I was required to assist at or observe 150 births of various kinds.  As an experienced Reiki teacher my view is that to ask for 75+ case studies for Reiki students at any level is simply unnecessary and over the top. 

The new requirements – longer courses, many case studies - risk lifting Reiki into an expensive category that may well prevent some very good people from learning Reiki, and possibly create divisions in the future between Practitioners, with some looking down on others because they didn’t do a “proper” course.   I find this elitist and hierarchical, precisely what Mikao Usui did not want, when he created this beautiful, simple healing model, for anyone to use.  I am familiar with the NOS requirements from teaching Crystal Therapy at that level for 10 years, and I looked at them for Reiki.  As a qualified teacher of adults, with City and Guilds 7302 and CTLLS, with 6 years’ experience teaching Reiki in a College of Further Education, as well as teaching privately for more than 20 years, I decided I would not go down that road.  

Most important for me in that decision was that Mikao Usui intended his model of energy work to be available for EVERYONE, for it to be easy to learn, and easy to use.  I preferred to stay true to his aim.  It is wrong, to me, to suggest to students that, unless they do a NOS level course, they are somehow a “lesser” Practitioner than the so-called “Professional” who takes the longer course.  We bring all that we are to our Reiki.  People training in Reiki have other life experiences and skills, and often other complementary therapy or professional training – mine was Midwifery - and I brought all that professionalism into my healing practice and my teaching of Reiki.

What about those who choose a shorter, more traditional Reiki course, perhaps for cost reasons, and later want to register with the CNHC or GRCCT?  If they have learned with me, I tell them, as far as I understand it, the current position is that they should be able to do this.  What are those students to do who are told this is not possible?  Take themselves through a repeat, or ‘upgrade’ course later, with all the additions, at great expense, because they have not been told the truth and offered all options at the beginning?  Or not train at all?

The world needs healers, it needs Reiki Practitioners working with the public, and we should be encouraging ALL who want to train in this beautiful healing modality.  Titles such as “Professional Reiki Practitioner”, simply should not be used in my view.  We are ALL “Reiki Practitioners”.   

DISCLAIMER (The Small Print)       

These are just my current thoughts. 

Thoughts can change as we learn and grow.

You may disagree with me, but I am nevertheless entitled to my thoughts.

You don’t have to like my blog or take notice of anything I say.

It is important you always make up your own mind - about everything.

I am not you, and don’t know you or the details of your life. 

Therefore, you are responsible for any decisions or changes you make as a result of reading my thoughts.