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Beyond Reiki I and II:
Professional Development for Reiki Practitioners

by Ulrike Dettling, M.A., LMFT, Reiki Master

The following are excerpts of a presentation given at the 2nd Annual Area Conference for Reiki Practitioners on April 10, 1999 in Lexington, MA.
This presentation is the result of informal discussions with Reiki students and other Reiki Masters. This is an exciting time for Reiki practitioners as Reiki is about to enter the 21st century. How do we as a Reiki community wish to see Reiki evolve? How can we actively participate in envisioning and shape the future of Reiki, in a pro-active rather than a reactive way?
Some of you may have heard about the attempts to regulate Reiki via licensing in the State of Texas and other initiatives to regulate Reiki by Phyllis Furomoto, the granddaughter of Ms. Takata. Some of you may be aware of Reiki having entered the mainstream as an adjunct to conventional medical treatment in hospitals, being offered as part of the services provided by the hospital to their patients. The increasing popularity of Reiki and its entering into the mainstream raises issues about professional standards or standards of quality of care concerning Reiki.
The practice and training of Reiki is currently not legally regulated. There is a wide variety of ways to practice and teach Reiki. The Reiki community is very diverse. This brings a richness to our community, and it also creates a lot of confusion among both consumers and students of Reiki. I've had many students be confused by the differences in curriculum and timelines of training offered by various masters. At this point in time, it is left up to the discernment of the client and the student to find a Reiki Master that meets their standards of care/teaching.

When my students and Reiki students of other Masters came to me after their Reiki I and II trainings with questions about starting their Reiki practice, expressing their lack of confidence of doing Reiki professionally after their one or two day training in Reiki, I realized that there is a need for professional training beyond Reiki I and II and that I needed to address that need in some way if I took my responsibilities as a Master Teacher seriously.

Reiki as a Home Remedy and an Empowerment Tool for Self-Healing
First I need to emphasize however that not every Reiki student wants to become a Reiki Professional and start a Reiki practice. Most people learn Reiki for their self-healing and as a home remedy for family, colleagues and friends. They have no intention of doing Reiki professionally and charging money for it. And the beauty of Reiki is its simplicity and that it can be learned in one day. I see Reiki as an empowerment tool that can be used for self-healing and as a complementary home remedy as we use Echinacea when we get a cold etc.

It's a very effective healing tool and everyone can use Reiki on themselves and others after a one day class. That's fantastic. I teach all my clients undergoing surgery or dealing with cancer or other chronic ailments Reiki, if they are open to it. I want them to have Reiki available to them 24 hrs a day and not have to depend on a practitioner at all times.

Real-life results One story of one of my students illustrates the power of Reiki as a home remedy. I got permission to share this story with you. The student took the Reiki I class with us to learn Reiki for herself and to share it with her family. Her husband suffered from esophageal reflux along with migraines. He would have these attacks about once a month. The condition was so debilitating that not only was he unable to work, he had to go to the emergency room once to get help for his condition. After the wife had learned Reiki I, she offered her husband Reiki when he had his next attack. And miraculously, his symptoms subsided. When she did Reiki on him, he was able to relax, and they didn't need to go to the ER. Since then, they have not been to ER.
A little Reiki helps relieve the symptoms.
The reason I am telling you this story is to emphasize the need and the power of Reiki as a home remedy, outside of the realm of a professional practice.

Many Reiki Masters hope to spread Reiki into every household all over the world. And I support that mission 100%. Do these students need professional training/support beyond Reiki I and II? Not in my opinion. Neither do most massage therapists, physical therapists, Shiatsu, polarity practitioners, nurses, acupuncturists and other health care professionals who don't give standard Reiki sessions but integrate Reiki into their hands-on healing practice.

Reiki as a Profession
So why would anyone need more professional training/support beyond a Reiki I and II class?
From the reports of clients and students, I have come to realize that a Reiki I and II class does not prepare one to become a Reiki professional, no matter how good the Reiki Master teacher is. Becoming a Reiki professional is a growth process that occurs over time. Those of us who haven't had professional training in ethics, professional boundaries, business development have stumbled along the Reiki path, learning by trial and error – maybe losing some Reiki clients over mistakes we've made or failing in our business venture as a Reiki practitioner because we didn't have any idea about what it takes to run a business for yourself or working too many hours to stay afloat and burning out. It's not the Reiki that burns practitioners out, since we are not using our personal energy, it's the running the business without the necessary know-how.

There are two aspects of professional training/support that a Reiki professional needs:

a) support/education with regards to clinical issues
b) support/education with regards to the business aspects

Some of these issues are covered in the curriculum of some Reiki Masters' Reiki Master Teacher training. However, a) not every Reiki practitioner who wants to open a practice wants to become a Reiki Master Teacher and b) those issues are only touched on briefly in a master teacher class.

Regulation and Licensing Issues
Let's go back to the issue of regulation or licensing of Reiki as a profession. What is the purpose behind licensing? The purpose of national, statewide or town-specific licensing is an attempt to protect the consumer and to establish professional standards, standards of quality of care as well as training. The licensing board determines what is considered standard or substandard care, what the requirements are for a professional to become licensed.

Let me take my own profession, Marriage and Family Therapy, as an example. MFT used to be on the fringe within the field of psychotherapy. It was a radical turn away psychoanalytic psychotherapy. It did not look at individual pathology, but at the individual within its relationship context, socio-cultural context and at relationship and systems dynamics, and it attempted to change entire systems, not just individuals. MFT was frowned upon by many traditional psychodynamic therapists. Over several decades, MFT began to build its reputation as an effective treatment modality, and since 1991 has become a licensed profession in the state of MA.MFT has now become a profession in its own right, with university training programs. The requirements for LMFTs specify academic requirements (i.e. what courses you need to take at accredited universities), how many supervised client hours pre- and post- masters, internships, how many supervision hrs, there is a written licensing exam etc.

Texas licensing board's proposed soultion
Who should determine the professional standards for Reiki?
The Texas licensing board suggested that 2 Reiki Master Teachers (degreed by the Reiki Alliance or Reiki Touch), a licensed physician and two consumers become the licensing board. Only Reiki practitioners degreed by a Reiki Alliance or Reiki Touch Master Teacher will be recognized as such after passing a written exam and having completed a certain number of hours of training. A person who is not registered with the licensing board may not use the word Reiki in connection with their delivery of services.
Tough questions Why are Reiki Master Teachers of Reiki Alliance or Reiki Touch origin and their students the only recognized Reiki teachers/practitioners? According to IARP (International Association of Reiki Professionals) the Reiki Alliance represents only 1% of the entire Reiki community. Would we want an MD on the licensing board? Apart from licensing, what would we want the standards of care and training to be for Reiki Professionals? Do we need such standards?

IARP has set forth a code of ethics for Reiki professionals and teachers which its members agree to embrace in their practice. Do we wish to honor the diversity of the Reiki community and have vastly different standards as is currently the case, or come up with voluntary standards to be embraced by all professional Reiki practitioners along the lines of the IARP code of ethics or something similar? Is there a need to professionalize or come up with minimal standards for Reiki practice and teaching?

When I hear clients complain about having had a Reiki treatment at someone's house with barking dogs running around, the TV blaring and kids screaming in the next room or the same room even or tell me about dirty linens, practitioners giving them medical diagnoses based on a Reiki treatment, receiving unwarranted advice or 'counseling', I tend to believe there is need for training our students to become Reiki professionals, not just practitioners.

When I see prospective students turning away from Reiki because of the confusing range of Reiki teaching practices, I sometimes wish there were a more uniform standard curriculum on which all teachers could creatively add their own touches. And then again, I am thrilled by the diversity of training and the ingenuity of various teachers, having studied with two different teachers myself and greatly benefited from their differences in teaching. 

Workshops are available Out of the demand from our students asking for help getting started as Reiki professionals, Brenda Armstrong-Champ, MSW, Reiki Master Teacher, and I began to offer workshops and individual and group consultations. We support students with the business development as well as clinical supervision.

Psychotherapists, massage therapist, Brennan energy healers all have clinical supervision as part of their professional training, why not Reiki practitioners? Does emotional stuff not get stirred up for you when you work with clients giving them Reiki? Clients may come up with issues that you are not prepared to deal with.

What would you do? What would you do when a client who is a survivor of abuse has a flashback in the middle of your Reiki session? Or who do you go to when your favorite Reiki client in the Nursing Home has suddenly died? How do you handle your surgery clients fear of dying that comes up during the session? What do you say when your client tells you she has just been diagnosed with mestatasized cancer and she doesn't know how to tell her 8 year old daughter? What do you do when your client starts sobbing during the session? How do you handle it if your client asks you out to the movies or to a date? How will you handle sexual harassment calls in response to your posted flyers? What do you do if a client gets angry and refuses to pay you?
Having a certificate that says you are a Reiki Master, does not make you a Reiki Master. Mastery takes practice, practice, practice and lots of experience and learning. And we all need mentors and guides along the way. Real people as well as our spirit guides.

These things can and do happen. And we all need a safe place where we can process these experiences and get some support and some guidance. It's not as simple as "just put your hands on and do Reiki". It takes skill and experience to become a Reiki Professional. And that goes beyond Reiki I and II classes.

What I propose for those who are committed to professional standards in their Reiki practice is continuing education beyond their Reiki I and II classes in the form of:

a) support/supervision group
b) consultations with Master
c) continuing education workshops on various topics such as chakras, ethics, practice development
d) Reiki conferences [like this one] where we can share ideas and enter a dialogue as a community.


1998 Ulrike Dettling Kalthofer
This article provided courtesy of Ulrike Dettling Kalthofer, Arlington Reiki Associates. This is copyright material. For reprint permission, please contact Ulrike Dettling Kalthofer by e-mail or visit her Web site,  Arlington Reiki Associates, for other contact information.

Ulrike Dettling is a licensed marriage and family therapist, AAMFT-Approved Clinical Supervisor and Reiki Master Teacher. She offers monthly Reiki/Healers Support groups, coaching, and individual consultations on professional development issues. For more information, please contact (781) 648-9334.

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