Certified Reiki What?

A Reiki practitioner emailed recently to ask about medical Reiki training. Not unusual.

I referred her to my next in-person, 3-day Reiki & Medicine Intensives. In case those dates/places weren’t convenient, I suggested the online Introduction to Medical Reiki recorded class. And I directed her to the most relevant blog categories, Reiki Research and Clinical Practice.

That’s when the correspondence took an odd turn.

Her response? She has no time to read blogs (no worries she’s reading this), she already practices at an institution, and she just wants to know where to send her money to get a Medical Reiki certificate.

She offered to send all her other certificates — why, I don’t know.

Certified Reiki Frenzy

Really, who cares how many meaningless certificates a Reiki practitioner has?

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but when certificates are not issued by an accredited organization, “meaningless” is the correct word. Or we could call them “feel-good” certificates.

Except you won’t feel so good when someone knowledgeable questions the validity of being certified Reiki. Reiki certificates are not backed up by any agreed-upon standards. Certificates don’t tell us what a person has learned, how many hours her training took, or if he practices daily self-treatment. People can print their own certificates. Or have their computer-savvy children do it.

Practitioners in respected professions such as health care invest time and considerable money to earn their certificates. If we want to be seen as respected Reiki colleagues, putting our certificates up with theirs is not a useful strategy. We need to distinguish our services, and ourselves, in other ways.

What Reiki Certificates Don’t Say May Be Most Important

Please pause to consider who you are when you’re not leaning on your piece(s) of paper.

Detailing your training and experience, and succinctly sharing your perspective is far more impressive than referring to yourself as a certified Reiki whatever.

Let people know what effort you’ve invested in your Reiki education and development. Let them know you value the practice enough to give yourself a Reiki treatment every day.

Let your communication, actions and presence demonstrate that you are a credible Reiki practitioner.

The Reiki Emporer’s New Clothes

Acknowledging publicly that Reiki certificates are essentially meaningless is a valuable step in establishing credibility. It creates an opportunity to educate health care and the public about Reiki values and Reiki diversity. As Reiki practice moves into health care, it is critical that practitioners with a thoughtful approach to Reiki lead the way.

What might happen if we don’t step up to represent Reiki practice with clarity and common sense? Much of the anti-Reiki propaganda used by the American Catholic bishops to remove Reiki practice from Catholic hospitals in the U.S.was written by naive, well-intentioned Reiki practitioners complete with certificates. What other opponents of Reiki are we giving ammunition to?

What are your thoughts about Reiki certificates?


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51 thoughts on “Certified Reiki What?”

  1. Before I launch into my spiel, I want to say I love your post. LOVE IT. You address the problems as an open conversation that NEEDS to be considered because as you said, Reiki is not a regulated healthcare field so there is no present standing certification program that can declare anyone a true master and carry the weight of valid professional credentials. It may appear very impressive to the untrained eye, but actually it’s a piece of paper that doesn’t mean much. Period. The thing about Reiki is that it actually cannot be quantified as a credentialed field. — When that happens it will be *all business* and in my humble opinion a detriment to the actual practice of Reiki as an energetic/faith based gift. You may be able to create programs with acceptable credentials for mainstream environment…but they might as well establish a new definition because Reiki in it’s purest form cannot be quantified. They may monetize and trademark the name/system. They may assign an hierarchy of masters and *super masters* to promote….(great for selling books and getting talk show spots) but they can’t own it. They can only own exclusive rights to one system . The system that they teach/trademark. Because Reiki wears many guises and has many masters. Look at me… I have been practicing Reiki for years without a certificate. i.e. *mommy’s kisses* , remote hugs/healing. sending *love and light* to the sick and the despondent. I’ve even done the actual hands slightly elevated over open wounds in the * as seen on tv * version of Reiki and very effectively I may add. But I didn’t do what I was taught. I did *what I felt*…my love and my empathy did the rest. — And I have always wondered how do you *teach this*. How do you quantify a person’s ability to do this via certification programs.??? — Let’s face it some people are natural healers. Others I suppose can be taught via masters how to direct what they feel and that’s cool , but does that make them more effective than a natural. Does a true natural master suddenly have to become a student and pay obscene $$ just to get a certificate from an organization that claims ownership of the *right way to say
    *True Reiki Master* ??
    A friend of mine has testified before congress to keep this kind of healing from being regulated. And yet I understand exactly your point that if it is to enter a mainstream healing modality there has to be some kind of accountability. Especially if it is being covered by healthcare insurance heh.
    I am not even saying I know what the answer is. But I am so glad you raised the issue. Maybe the real problem is that people are focusing too much on how to make it into a dollar sign practice in a dollar sign world. — My soul tells me somewhere therein lies the problem.
    Imagine a world where Jesus accepted Master Card? Where he was arrested because he did not have a Roman issued license to heal? I also kind of remember him saying “it wasn’t ME but your FAITH” that healed you. (how do you package THAT).
    Even more interesting is the talk of Jesus possibly having learned these practices in India….which means perhaps some things CAN be taught.

    This is the start of a great conversation about healing. And I deeply appreciate your honesty.

    Again. Not sure what the answer is but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it. Thanks.

    1. Roxanne,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective on credentialing, and for your enthusiasm for this discussion.

      I would like to clarify that I do not support government regulation of Reiki practice.

      That said, it helps the public and the Reiki community when Reiki practitioners are willing to address the confusion that results when there are no standards. We can do this without regulation, simply by continually reaching for the highest standards in our own practice.

      There could be credentialing for diverse Reiki professional practice without the risks you mention. But we have to maintain focus on Reiki practice, empowered by lineage initiations. Sending good wishes, mother’s kisses and hugs, having faith, etc. may all be healing, but they are not Reiki practice.

      Credentialing could be organized around a minimal number of hours for training at various levels, or outlining a curriculum that includes not only information but also hours of in-class and at-home practice on oneself and on others, and discussion of clinical skills and ethics. Such standards are credible and do not interfere with diverse approaches to practice.

      Being compensated for offering a service does not have to compromise Reiki practice. If we want to be professionals, we need to be accountable for our conduct and our expertise.

      If we are to have meaningful dialogue, we each need to stay focused on Reiki practice, be respectful of diverse perspectives, and avoid inflammatory comments. Much could be accomplished if we all used self-discipline to contemplate each comment as we write it, looking to see if it furthers the conversation or obfuscates it with rhetoric.

  2. I attuned my son to Reiki 1, but never trained him. He was probably around 12. I was in pain from a thoracic spine issue. He would lay his hands on me and his hands would be fiery hot. He understood that he was doing Reiki, but he had no other complete knowledge. The pain would diminish. Reiki works without all the completions as it does with the completions and practice. It is simply best when the healer embraces all the potentials to become well educated and well practiced, which as a RMT, I well advocate. But it is not something to contain that is for sure.

  3. Jeanette, you are smart to be cautious when running a clinic where there is some hostility, but I don’t see how we can discriminate among the various approaches to Reiki training.

    It seems to me that the important thing is that you structure and supervise the clinic closely, and perhaps have a committee of experienced practitioners that you know well who help you run it, so that there is always someone in the room who is responsible.

    We have written orientation materials and only practitioners who attend the orientation that I give before each clinic can offer treatment. This is true for all practitioners, not just new ones. I clearly express that while we respect the diversity in our community, in public events, it’s important to use the same approach and protocol. And no psychic feedback in public events.

    You must have a contact on the Y staff who sponsors the clinic. Why not discuss the situation with him/her? It’s important to find out why the members feel hostile so you can address their concerns. Don’t get defensive, just give clear information. Would it help to download my intro video and use that for public education?

    Another thought is to have all participants fill out evaluation forms after each clinic so that you can document how popular the clinic is. And why not keep track of the money that it brings in–and encourage people to be generous if they want the clinic to continue. Keeping track of details and being accountable helps to create an environment of respect.

  4. Hi Pamela,

    This is the same Jeanette who commented above. I enjoyed your answers, and now here’s a practical question. For the past year, I have been running a small Reiki Clinic at the local Y, where we offer mini-sessions once a month for a donation to the Y Holistic Center. There is some hostility to Reiki from some of the more conservative Y members, so we have to watch our step. This is a small town, so up to this point I have been able to informally verify the training and certification of those serving on the Reiki team, but now we are attracting people who have not trained with respected local Masters, and in fact some non-Reiki healers have asked to serve. I know that you have a successful and long-running Reiki clinic, and I would appreciate your advice on how to handle the question of certification in my situation. Do you ask people to show their certificates? (We are discussing the possibility of setting up an open healing circle, where Reiki attunement would not be a requirement to participate.) Thanks!

  5. Pamela,

    Did you ever get a chance to speak with George Araki before his passing? George Araki was head of the department for alternative healing at San Francisco State University when he became a master. George became a master in order to do a study with Reiki. However, it was too difficult to set up the protocol. The university (or his colleagues) may have some of his old preliminary work on this that might be of interest to you.


    Hi Pamela
    I just wanted to say that I agree with your original post wholeheartedly. A few years ago ,I developed a great interest in the Reiki way and at the time was totally broke and couldn’t afford to train with Reiki. I therefore gained some distant attunements online for free. My experiences of the attunements were amazing and I was duly sent certificates via email. These certificates were to Master/teacher level!!!!! I actually felt very embarassed about this and told nobody. I then went on to be attuned to level 1 Usui Reiki and have practiced self healing and on my pets over the last year.
    I received a certificate for this and hide it away for my own personal delight when my self image isn’t so wonderful. The Reiki itself is what is most important to me.
    I just recently was attuned to Usui Reiki 2 and had the most wonderful one to one training. My teacher asked me several months before attunement to write a dissertation on my reasons for wanting to follow the Reiki path and gave me many exercises to do every day before the attunement. Many times I was tempted to ask if I would receive a certificate after the attunement but eventually calmed down and realised that it was the training and the practice that was real and of relevance for me. Certification was never mentioned by either of us and I can tell you I received so much more from this teacher and from the Reiki that I self heal with daily. I am not concerned about lack of certification. I believe in the Reiki healing energy and would hope that anyone I share this with will look past certificates to the real person . Love and Light Quartz

  7. I have to say that this thread has been sitting with me for a few days now and I am feeling swayed towards Pamela’s original point. I still believe that, for the business aspect of Reiki, being trained through a teacher/organization that is widely regarded as having clear standards of practice is a good thing… but I absolutely see the larger point that no certificate from ANYWHERE, be it a Reiki certificate or a medical-degree certificate, can tell clients what kind of practitioner the person is. We have to emulate those ideals in practice to reveal that truth that no piece of paper can. Very interesting discussion here:) I am enjoying it.



    1. Haley, I LOVE that this is still percolating for you.

      That’s my goal, to get practitioners to contemplate what we’re doing. I really don’t care if people agree with me and I like the stimulation of other perspectives, but what I treasure is practitioners engaging more deeply in their own practice.

      Thanks so much for checking back in.

  8. The “energy handshake” I mentioned is something I started doing spontaneously, one might say intuitively, at the beginning of sessions, especially with a new person. I am in fact a qigong practicioner, although that came after Reiki, and that might have had something to do with it on an unconscious level. My Reiki Master (traditional, BTW) says I am assessing their energy. I think I am assessing their sensitivity. People routinely feel anything from warmth to magnetic pull to spiraling energy in their palms to electrical currents traveling in their bodies. Anyone I have ever done this with has been very interested, not to say fascinated – with the exception of two (one being my brother) who were really negative to start with and seemed to be spooked by what they felt. Counterproductive, as you say. I don’t do it so much any more.

  9. Well Hmm.

    I used to put a lot of weight into “certification.” In fact I had to have my proof of lineage and certificates to apply to the International Center for Reiki Training. I’ve been passing Reiki since 1994, received my second degree “certification” in 1995, and my master attunement in 2003. My teaching skills have been honed over the years.

    I never completed my application to the International Reiki Center.

    I like the work, I appreciate the organization. I support them in this there path but, it’s not my own spiritual calling. I’m a healer, I make use of Reiki. I may have identified as a Reiki Master Practitioner as a title of achievement (yay me! You studied and practiced for years! Good job!) but what I do is rarely written about in the way that I experience. I would go so far as to say that what has become of my Reiki practice is a complete metamorphosis into an entirely new creature combining techniques, energies, vibrations, lightwork, witchcraft, modernize indigenous “shamanism” … in short it’s healing.

    Though I would love to participate in a healing setting for others I think I’m fulfilling a more original and shamanistic role with Reiki (than a salon or “out patient” therapy) by acting as a minister for the energy in a spiritual setting.

    I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t need any organization creeping in on my channeling and relegating validity to a situation where I’m channeling the Sun Buddha and talking with peoples ancestors while I hold the space for them to give the energy.

    How do you quantify that for a certificate?

    1. to be clear when I say participate and note “out patient” i’m talking about hospital and salon settings, which I see as completely awesome for someone to have. I am saying that I would feel more like clergy than a massage therapist. If that makes better sense.

  10. Have you been talking to my brother?? He is the head of the credentials committee at his hospital (not in NYC) where they have just credentialed a Reiki Master, and he is not happy about it. He of course criticizes the impossibility of validating a certificate for lack of a recognized credentialing body, and the paucity of hard research supporting the efficacy of Reiki, but also has a couple of other reasons for disrespect and invalidation – the paltry amount we pay for insurance, and the practice of distance healing, especially when money is charged. He refuses to let me work on him so he can form an opinion based on his own experience, but on one occasion I did get him to give me an “energy handshake” by putting his palms opposite mine, and this is what happened – after a second he jumped back as if he had received an electrical shock (oh, really?), and said that if he believed in that, he would have to give up his practice and go do that. Do I sense some fear there, or just sarcasm? He says that inclusion of Reiki in his hospital is a marketing tactic, so perhaps creation of consumer demand (which cares little about certificates – I have never been asked for mine) should be our focus rather than trying to convince the skeptical medical community. I decry the practice of attuning anyone who has the money, especially at the Master level, and I am not against research and would like to see more of it, but I think that the variability of Reiki from practicioner to practicioner constitutes a significant constraint on rigorous research that demands uniformity in order to be valid. We are not a pill, we are a rainbow.

    1. No, Jeanette, I haven’t been speaking to your brother, but I’d be happy to. I don’t know if it’s fear or sarcasm, or sibling rivalry that’s complicating the situation. 🙂 It could also be your communication strategy.

      Your brother is a critical thinker, which is exactly who we want to be in his position. And he is at least correct that marketing usually plays into having Reiki treatment offered in a hospital; not only is there a growing cachet around complementary therapies, but also Reiki treatment is cheap by health care standards, and often free thanks to all the Reiki practitioners willing to volunteer. Remember that many people have to sign off on a decision to offer Reiki treatment, and hospitals are having a hard time making ends meet, so adding the marketing angle just makes (dollars and) sense.

      I do not advocate trying to convince anyone, and you’ll never convince a critical thinker of anything. They have to convince themselves. That’s why in my Medical Reiki seminar and the Introduction to Medical Reiki recorded webinar, I suggest students lay out a series of facts and plausible concepts and let health care professionals connect the dots themselves. Once they have applied their own critical thinking to come to their own conclusion, they become strong supporters.

      My strategy is to both build consumer demand (hence the Campaign for Credible Reiki) and to give health care administration the information it needs, in the language it understands, to see how Reiki practice can support its goals and make its job easier.

      You are spot on in pointing out that Reiki treatment cannot be dosed, but the variability is not only among practitioners, but also up to the receiver, because a Reiki treatment is balancing. That is why my favorite research design is to train health care professionals to the First degree and let them deliver the treatment. This way at least they have all had the same training, and have been practicing the same length of time. An added benefit is that they already know their way around the hospital.

      1. Hmmm, are you familiar with the organization Reiki Rays of Hope for Caregivers in northeastern Ohio? https://reikiraysofhope.org/ They have a team of Reiki Masters doing this kind of work funded by grants and medical institutions and therefore free to the recipients.

        And what would you say to my brother about distance healing in general, but especially when done for money? He seems to feel that this alone discredits Reiki and puts it in the category of a scam.

      2. It’s not a matter of responding to a particular question, Jeanette, it’s putting the whole topic in a context and in language that is meaningful to someone. People–even Reiki practitioners–often have a point or two that is sticky for them, but if Reiki practice makes sense overall and the value is clearly articulated without making claims, then critical thinkers are willing to leave it open.

        However, that’s not the way Reiki practice is generally presented–we usually hear the Reiki-energy-coming-through model, which smacks of vitalism and thus is quite implausible to a scientist–so it’s actually quite amazing that we’ve gotten as far as we have in health care.

        BTW I have never heard of the Reiki handshake you mentioned, but from the way you described it, I doubt it is a Reiki technique. It sounds more like a qigong move. Reiki practice is more neutral. The benefit of a traditional approach rather than the melange that developed post Takata is that people get to feel it from within themselves. Trying to prove something to someone is rarely successful; you’re pitting yourself against that person, with one being right and the other wrong. It becomes a power struggle that no one wins. Reiki treatment is a different paradigm, one of balance rather than struggle.

  11. CEU’s for nurses are vitally important to keep up with not only changes in technology , but “standards of care”. And this grouping of words is what people connected to Reiki grapple with. To set a standard, there has to be measurement. This is where the road of Reiki splits. It is a mistake to akin the certificate received at the end of the course to one receives at the end of a CEU class. But, one thing is similar. The student of either must take personal responsibility for their continued professional development. Sure, there are nurses and doctors who skim and skimp when taking a CME or CEU class..just to meet the bare minimum the state boards require of them ,so they can get on to other things. Your integrity as a professional should prevent this as a possibility. But, I digress. Back to Reiki. The certificate means exactly the sum of yourself you put into it acquiring it. From the moment you choose your Reiki Master teacher….to the amount of time spent learning, and continues to hold that value for only as long as you continue, with integrity, to continually practice, seek knowledge and dig into the mystery. Excuse the analogy, because of course, they are in no way comprable…but would you get a fishing license and not use it? The certificate simply states that you have been introduced to Reiki. Period. The therapist or practitioner add on is only yours to claim if you do the work…consistently and with integrity. Better to call yourself a certified Reiki student…or a certified Reiki master student. That is in fact, what we are. Students of Reiki. Reiki cannot be captured, claimed, owned ,or purchased. It is always the teacher.

    1. Well said, Susan. I often refer to myself as a Reiki master student. But not “certified.” Maybe I have an aversion to it from back in the day when saying someone was certified meant they were NUTZ. 🙂

    2. In other words…we are clear channels for Reiki energy to flow through. It is energy. We have been attuned to that energy to use it. That may be for self treatments or to help others when they are in need. As we progress with the use of the energy, we may chose as Reiki Masters to pass on this wonderful understanding with an atonement to the next person seeking the comfort of the wonderful energy called Reiki. The Certificate only means that you went to someone with a real understanding of what Reiki is and that person was certified to pass that energy on to you. I feel that being attuned to Reiki has been an eye opener for me as a person of this universe. It helps me to control the ego and help other people that are in need of awakening. Also to be able to recognize that, that person needed help. I look at the sky, the trees, moon, stars, clouds, all that is, with a new sense of appreciation and feeling of connection. I understand when the universe is calling me and when my body is telling me something. I had none of this prior to my “certificate”. If I could achieve all that without the certificate, I would go do it all over again and walk away just as happy as I am today with no certificate.

      1. Thank you, Jason.

        It seems that the idea of being attuned to an energy is a New Age add-on. In Asian spiritual practice, which is what Reiki practice is, an initiation empowers us to practice; it starts, or initiates, our practice. Usui never referred to a separate Reiki energy. You might be interested to read this conversation with Japanese Reiki masters Hyakuten Inamoto and Hiroshi Doi.

      2. Thank you for this link…as I’m reading it and find on page three “HI / HD: We understand that Reiki is the energy of the universe, or the very source of the energy of the universe, and one of the names. We find it very interesting your interpretation. We have to think about it.” Two paragraphs earlier they say, “To our understanding, it is the same thing with a different name. We don’t know the clear definition of prana or qi.” I’m unclear why I was sent to this link. I don’t believe I said Reiki was different than the source of the universe. I just put it in different words. Perhaps calling universal energy the same thing as God threw you off. They clearly state that Reiki is the energy of the universe, I am understanding through my spiritual life journey that God and the energy of the universe are the same thing. I also believe that prana and qi are the same thing. Just different words for the same thing. Perhaps from different areas of the world. I believe that scientist may be trying to pinpoint them to different things in their trying to understand what it is, but to get back to the original point. We channel this energy because someone that has been channeling it passed this ability onto us (attuned). The more we use it, the clearer we become as a channel. In two fold we become more like the energy. The energy rids us of the imperfections we have built up in our lives, so we become closer to our source. The more we us it the clearer we become … hence the push on daily self-treatments. We channel Gods energy, Reiki energy, universal energy, prana, qi. We really don’t have to do anything but set our ego aside and give intention. The energy knows what the receiver needs. Have I confused the issue or said something that may be perceived as not true? I was also taught that we need to listen to our higher self (god) when in doubt.

      3. Jason, I’m sorry, but prana and qi are not the same thing. I say that not only from a philosophical/academic perspective, but as someone who had experienced both of these subtle bioenergies before ever experiencing Reiki. And I’m not so sure that what a Japanese Reiki master means by “energy” is the same as what a Westerner calls “energy.” The Japanese Reiki masters state clearly that Usui just said Reiki, not Reiki energy.

        I don’t understand Reiki practice to be channeling energy. There are other models.

  12. This is a great example of Reiki, the mystery; Reiki, the healing practice; Reiki of the many varieties (!); Reiki, the hot topic (!); and on and on. The wording “regulated Reiki” is an amusing oxymoron to my mind.
    It seems to me that the certificate is only as meaningful as the experience has been to the practitioner, and may be meaningful to someone new to Reiki, at least as a starting point. It’s really very subjective, but Life is subjective. As Teri pointed out, even those with accredited credentials have no more “meaning” than some who have or don’t have Reiki. This is the reality of our world. The choice ultimately lands squarely in the center of each seeker, as it should.
    Thankfully, the real Reiki exists within the trinity of connection among practitioner/client/Source. It becomes real and meaningful as it is shared and allowed. I agree with Jason on that point. Encouraging Reiki as a credible option in traditional medicine, in order to create a larger community, does have its challenges, as we know. We can and do crystallize at least some of the profound mystery of Reiki for the benefit of more logical and scientific minds. There will always be polarity and union on these issues.
    Just bringing those who are ready just a little closer together is enough for now. Just for today…

  13. Even if there were a MILLION Reiki certifications available. Paper is not proof enough for me,That a practitioner has a committed daily self-treatment practice to which he or she embodies the benefits of Reiki… I can spot a Reiki practitioner who doesn’t have a self-treatment routine as part of their life from a mile way… If their walls were lined with certificates, I still wouldn’t let them put their hands on me!! This should be the first bit of information we offer to clients about our Reiki practice.. Then perhaps impress them with our invaluable training accomplishments:)

    1. Great points, Edith. I am curious to know what tips you off that someone does not practice daily self-treatment. Is it anything you can put into words?

  14. A certificate really means nothing…offer a small hands on treatment. Get the person to relax and let them feel the effects of Reiki. I is my guess that someone in the medical field wanted a Reiki practitioner out of the way…so they said to them … where is your medical Reiki certificate. Remember to set aside the ego and ask for the words for situations like this, in that moment. We have a direct connection to the universal life force. If you want to offer your services to someone and someone else interferes. Look for the right words. Sometimes we need to step back…remember it’s not about us. It’s about the person that needs the Reiki.

    1. Jason, thank you for bringing up the value of a hands-on experience. There is really nothing better than that to help people get a sense of what Reiki practice might offer them. That’s why I start every medical presentation giving the audience an experience of Reiki touch.

      I think it’s quite natural for questions about certification to come up in conventional health care because it is such a credential-oriented culture, and for good reason. We definitely want people who are caring for others to be well educated in their specialties, because conventional medicine involves risk. Because Reiki treatment is balancing, and comes from an entirely different paradigm, it can take a while for conventionally licensed health care professionals to appreciate that it is effective and without risk. Many of them never get that part; I often hear nurses give warnings not to practice Reiki at this time or with that condition, etc.

      1. Wow, a nurse advising not to practice Reiki! To me, this means that they just don’t know what Reiki really is. Why would someone turn away from God. As we were taught, Reiki means universal life force / God force or energy. To take it a little further, this energy actually is our makeup. We are mental, emotional, physical and spiritual beings. So, the advice is to not indulge in a blast of spiritual attuning. Which is where the healing comes in. Sorry…just took me back a bit. I’m okay, now. It appears that it would be a good thing for a nurse to take the Reiki I course just so they can understand a little about it, not so much for the credits they need.

  15. I have spent the last 38 yrs, paying each year, to keep my nursing license current. i have also paid thru the years to get CEUs. A license and a certificate are not the same thing….however….neither one measures any real knowledge….and just because you pay to get CEUs does not mean you know that knowledge…even if they give a “test” at the end…it usually isn’t monitored and everyone copies off everyone else…just to get it done. My point is that I don’t think a certificate or license means anything but that you put forth the effort to do what was required to get it…the real test is afterward in the real world. I am a Reiki master as well as a nurse….I don’t have any answers but this did make me think that Reiki is so much that is Unseen and can’t be measured…..and there are lots of nurses and doctors too that don’t know much of anything…it’s scary…i’ve worked in the field most of my life so i’ve seen it first hand…I do self Reiki everyday for me….i follow the ideals…for me…..don’t know where I was going with that……scattered thoughts……makes you go hmmmmmmmm

    1. Teri, thank you for sharing your thoughts about certification and Continuing Education Units for nurses (CEUs).

      Continuing education for Reiki practitioners is quite different than in fields such as nursing, where changing technology and procedures, and safety issues make it necessary to stay updated. Additionally, nurses and other health care professionals have more extensive training that Reiki practitioners, they generally work full time and they are continually engaged in professional community.

      Most Reiki educational venues only teach the practice (and many venues barely do that), don’t offer continuing support to students, and do not educate in the many other aspects of being a Reiki professional. That’s why I have created the continuing Reiki education resources I offer–webinars, in-person classes, the blog and my facebook page–to help practitioners develop additional skills not taught in their Reiki classes, and to provide a community where we can bounce around ideas and concerns and get input from a wide ranging perspectives. This is especially important because many Reiki professionals are solo practitioners.

      Agreed, most of Reiki is unseen and unmeasurable; all the more reason for us to bring clarity to how we communicate about the practice, which is traditionally quite simple.

  16. Nobody has asked to see my certificates, and unfortunately nobody has asked about my training. As you say, Pamela, with no universal standards or continuing education required, the paper itself means nothing. I take the bull by the horns and talk about this before treating someone new to me. It is not unusual for people to say, “Oh, I did not know that. Really? I thought Reiki was such and such.” Most people will check the internet and get the impression that Reiki is akin to Lucid Dreaming or Shamanic Healing. As for people who just want the certificate for the sake of having it, we have no way to disarm them, so to speak. As for the people who provide this service: I believe as time passes and people like you, Pamela, continue your dedication to education about Reiki, not only to those who give it, but those who seek it, the disingenuous will be silenced by the power of that wisdom.

    1. Susan, it’s encouraging to read that you are proactive in sharing information in this way. It’s so important that practitioners who have a thoughtful approach are vocal so that the public has options.

      I have no desire to silence any Reiki practitioners. My goal is simply to motivate practitioners such as yourself to put your thoughtful Reiki perspective out in front of your communities.

      In this way, the public face of Reiki will be truer to the practice itself rather than confused by the New Age trappings that have been wrapped around it. This will make it easier for many people to recognize that Reiki practice can help them.

  17. Haley, please, there is no need to apologize. I offered the information about continuing education because it comes up often and is largely unknown outside of health care. No worries.

  18. You know, Pamela, you do bring up some very good points, and I was able to follow your logic. I do not, however, agree with you in many of them, such as the idea that we should, as Reiki practitioners, offer in any way, shape or form that a Reiki certificate is ‘essentially meaningless’. I do agree with what you are trying to say, which I understand to be “just because someone is certified, doesn’t mean they are fully qualified”, and that we as Reiki practitioners have a responsibility to keep the client/recipient aware of this information.

    The idea that a certificate should show exactly what a person knows is, frankly, preposterous, as knowledge is always changing and evolving, and what one year is generally accepted as fact may eventually be proven differently. If you’d like an example, I’m sure you’re familiar with the diversity of ‘history’ people have been told about Mikao Usui’s educational background. A ‘completion of Reiki’ certificate simply means that one has completed the training provided by the teacher – nothing more, nothing less. This is why it is so important for people to ask questions of their Reiki practitioner – only then can you establish whether a practitioner is up to your standards. And if you happen to find someone who has a cheap-o certificate? It sucks to be that poser! But it shouldn’t be the job of everyone who legitimately worked for their certificate to constantly have to pick apart others’ authentic (but often less-conventional training) in search of practitioners who may not be so obviously genuine. In my opinion this promotes a ‘Reikier than thou’ mentality, which does little to bring the Reiki community closer to general public acceptance. Instead, I think we should focus our efforts to offering information about how to tell if your Reiki practitioner is well-qualified (or experienced enough to admit when they don’t know something). I believe that as Reiki practitioners, we have a responsibility to convey the information about Reiki in an honest yet down-to-earth way so that it can be understood and utilized by anyone who has such a desire. Since Reiki is not regulated in any way, nor does it appear to be in the process of being regulated, I do not know how practical it is to push so strongly for this regulation or to advise Reiki practitioners to say their certificates are ‘worthless’. The next best thing, in my not-so-humble opinion, is to promote reliable information and to encourage critical thinking, not only with recipients of Reiki but also Reiki practitioners and teachers.. which I believe you are attempting to do. Thank you for the thought-provoking post, as always.

    1. Jessica, I think we serve our practice best when we are the best practitioners we can be, whatever that means to us. I certainly don’t think it is, as you wrote, “the job of everyone who legitimately worked for their certificate to constantly have to pick apart others’ authentic (but often less-conventional training) in search of practitioners who may not be so obviously genuine.”

      You also seem to think that I push for regulation, which is the precise opposite of my perspective. I encourage Reiki professionals to practice daily Reiki self-treatment, contemplate their experiences, comport themselves as professionals, and develop their ability to communicate clearly. I am emphatically opposed to any regulation other than each practitioner regulating her own behavior.

      I completely agree with you about educating the public and health care about thoughtful Reiki practice and tips how to evaluate a practitioner’s competence. That’s why I wrote Recipe for Reiki Credibility and Reiki Classes: What’s Right for You?

  19. Interesting post. I tend to agree with Andrew’s reply, though. Certainly, a certificate in and of itself does not tell anyone what kind of practitioner you are, but it does say that you completed the course work. And yes, Pamela, you are absolutely right that people can forge these certificates–another issue altogether. Clients need to listen to their intuition when choosing a practitioner and ask the kinds of questions that will satisfy them that the practitioner is knowledgeable and capable.

    Also, back to the certificates themselves, there are “accredited” institutions, such as the International Center for Reiki Training and East West Reiki Association, that have been approved by medical boards to offer continuing education credits to nurses and massage therapists. (I put “accredited” in parenthesis because their is not, to my knowledge, an actual accrediting agency that accredits Reiki schools at this time. However, these schools -have- been approved to offer educational credits.) I’m not personally familiar with East West’s requirements for RMTs to offer classes in their name, but I know that ICRT has a rigorous regimen of teacher requirements and a consistent set of class materials for all levels.

    Of course, every teacher has a unique style, and Reiki is not something that can be put in a box, but a framework such as this allows the medical community, and clients in general, to have a point of reference in terms of knowing how, and through whom, practitioners were trained and certified. This takes the nebulous nature out of “any old certificate” and allows for those holding a certificate by one of these “accredited” institutions to feel that it has meaning; they are certified through a Reiki school or teacher that has been permitted to offer medical continuing ed credits. I think this -does- count to the discerning client. Just my two cents.

    Love your site, Pamela! Great work you are doing here:)

    1. I totally agree with Haley. Additionally, the logic to ignore certificates (though not equal in its type of accreditation) should then extend to physicians. Why not have them ignore and not display their medical degrees? It’s up to us, as patients, to do the work before we choose a doctor, ie. to check their history, experience, even for malpractice suits. Finally, Pam, I totally disagree with your statement that “Reiki certificates are essentially meaningless”. Are you secretly playing devil’s advocate?
      I recently received my Master Certification in the Usui Reiki Ryoho tradition and am very proud of my certificate and have the integrity to live up to the expectations of my Master Teacher. On the other hand, with respect to the relative ease of getting a certificate without proper training perhaps a Reiki accreditation program, as well known as the AMA, should be created to distinguish the type of training a practitioner has received. And, with your background, you may be the person to consider launching this for the benefit of everyone…just a thought. Appreciate the opportunity to share and the work you do. Blessings.

      hank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

      1. Ron, a Reiki certificate may have a lot of meaning to the individual named on it; that’s a purely subjective, personal matter.

        In the rest of the professional world, professional certificates are meaningful because they are tied to widely agreed-upon standards. We don’t have this consensus in Reiki, thus in the conventional professional sense, certificates are meaningless. There is no general agreement regarding even what constitutes First degree training.

        I didn’t know it was a secret that I play the devil’s advocate. 🙂 It can be a very effective teaching device, especially when trying to help practitioners recognize where they are emotionally sensitive to an extent that they cannot withstand professional scrutiny. Better that they discover that reading a blog post than in a hospital meeting, don’t you think?

      2. I have to go along with the others here who feel that a ‘certificate’ is important. I was ‘attuned’ by a Reiki Master of the Usui lineage and am proud of my certificate. I display it so that those who come to me for a session know that I have received the training I need to practice.
        The person who attuned me was not running an ‘accredited institution’ at the time but I dont feel that that makes ‘my’ Reiki any less important.
        I do not have the thousands of dollars to travel to other states for weekends of Reiki by ‘accredited’ institutions. I wish I did. But, I still do not think that that should negate what I have learned.
        I’ve never had anyone come to me and ask where I was trained, of if I self-treat daily. I am in an area where very few people even seek out Reiki because so little is known about it.
        I hope that we dont go backwards to the time when you had to pay $10,000 to become a Master! After all, I thought that the idea was to attune as many Reiki practitioners as possible so that they could help humanity?

      3. Linda, no one is negating what you have learned or your practice.

        I have not said that only Reiki certificates from an accredited organization are worth having–quite the contrary.

        The only accreditation that would be meaningful would be if there were agreement throughout the field regarding what course material is covered at each level and what the time frame is for training is. The organizations referred to by Haley are not accredited in that way; they are accredited to provide nursing CEUs, which is an entirely different matter.

        I’m not a fan of Reiki factories. Ours is an oral tradition passed from teacher to student through a lineage. Learning to practice Reiki is not an academic study.

        The point is not to indiscriminately initiate as many people as possible. That’s a New Age misrepresentation.

        In 1990, I paid $10,000 for my year of Reiki master training. That was a very large sum of money to me. I didn’t have to pay it, I chose to, because I wanted that level of professional education and a direct, unbroken lineage to Usui/Hayashi/Takata. It was a good investment and I have never felt that I overpaid.

    2. Haley, thank you for your kind words.

      Regarding the certificates, the problem is that a certificate doesn’t say that the person “completed the course work,” as you wrote. There are Reiki certificates given, complete with lineage and instructions how to initiate, without any classes at all. If there is no agreement as to what constitutes a reasonable First degree class, for example, what does a First degree certificate certify?

      FYI medical boards do not approve nursing credits; nursing boards do. Each licensed professional controls its own education.

      That said, I have had presentations approved for Continuing Medical Education (CME). This was not granted on the basis of my Reiki certificates, but rather on the merit of my presentation, my work history, and my ability to communicate in the medical paradigm.

      Physicians, nurses and other health care professionals are only able to evaluate whether or not a professional meets the standards of their respective licensed profession; they aren’t qualified to evaluate someone’s Reiki training because they aren’t Reiki experts, they are medical, or nursing, etc. experts.

      1. Hi again, Pamela:)

        Per your comment, “There are Reiki certificates given, complete with lineage and instructions how to initiate, without any classes at all. If there is no agreement as to what constitutes a reasonable First degree class, for example, what does a First degree certificate certify?”

        This is why I was offering some examples of known/respected Reiki schools that DO have an agreed upon base standard of what constitutes each level of Reiki completion. Again, my feeling on this is not that Reiki can, or ever should be, put into a box, but rather that standards for coursework essentials such as those put out by the ICRT lend both credibility to the field of working Reiki professionals and to the perception of validity that Reiki holds with those working in traditional medicine.

        (Apologies for my lack of knowledge about which medical groups are able to deem a certain Reiki school or teacher worthy of offering CE credits. Was just wording that based on the info I do have.)

        Love & Light,


    3. People, the idea that some class or school is better or “Accredited” by the mere fact of offering CEU’s, CU’d, PDA’s, etc. etc. should not be seen as such….it is used for marketing strategy. For many years I offered continuing education units to Licensed Acupuncturist and Massage therapist. I had the paper work to offer continuing education to Nurses as well. And that is all it is, paperwork. Anyone can fill out the paper work (20+ pages sometimes) and send in the required fee and Voila! You are now offering continuing education credits to licensed health care professionals. Offering CEU’s doesn’t mean my Reiki classes are better or worse than anyone else’s…it just means I spent a few hours and a few hundred dollars to be able to do this.

  20. When Reiki certificates are placed alongside documents from accredited institutions, I’d hardly expect them to stack up. That said, I do believe the Reiki certificates count for something. Most Reiki certificates I am aware of are usually certificates of completion – completion of training; this which in itself is a bit misleading as the real work / practice starts after class.

    Regardless, seeing a Reiki certificate lets me know someone has taken time to complete some form of training. I just see it as a matter of perspective. This argument can apply to just about any form of certification – for example, being A+ certified doesn’t make you an automatic Tech virtuoso. That’s coming from a pretty strict and standard certification body as well.

    I’m sure you’ve considered this, and I certainly see where you’re coming from – just wanted to speak for a different perspective.

    Thanks Pamela!

    1. And thank you, Andrew. There is always room here for varied perspectives. That’s the only way that we can each deepen our understanding and be able to make good choices for ourselves.

      To me, there is no one right way, and frank discussion among practitioners of diverse perspectives adds to the credibility of the field. That’s why I write this blog and keep the facebook page.

  21. I think having a certificate is a good thing, as it’s “proof” that you actually took the time to learn from a Reiki Master. People are more likely to have you do Reiki on them if they know you are certified. Yes, anyone can print out a phony certificate, but I think a valid certificate should have contact information from where your Reiki training took place, so that it can be verified if the need arises. And, hopefully Reiki Masters are not granting certificates to people who have not shown that they know and understand what they’re doing.

    1. I agree with you, Rik, that a valid certificate would be worthwhile showing. But the public has no way to know what a valid certificate is, or even that they need to make sure a certificate is valid. And by the time they figure that out, it’s likely that the credibility of Reiki has been seriously undermined.

      Many Reiki masters give out certificates without requiring anything more than a fee to be paid, and sometimes not even that.

    2. What is a “valid” certificate? I mean, unless one of the archangels issues a certificate, how can we call anything “valid”?

      Reiki is not (yet) something, which we can learn on any accredited university, so we have to learn it from a Reiki Master-Teacher. And who can proof, that this particular teacher is a “valid” teacher?
      There are many opportunities online to rush through online Reiki courses, receiving 1st, 2nd and Master degree certificate from a teacher , they have never seen in person and vice versa. And how can we distinguish between a “valid” and a not-so-valid certificate?
      Reiki is now spread all over the world in over 75 different variations and some of those schools claim to teach the “real and only valid” Reiki tradition – is this really true? We cannot interview Usui Sensei anymore (yes we can ask, but this is again a question of credibility) so, who can claim to teach the valid and real Reiki to be entitled to issue “valid” certificates?

      I think, we teachers need to be much more strict and clear about what is necessary to obtain a certain degree certificate and make it clear to the public, that anyone teaching Reiki, who is giving certificates away like free concert tickets does very likely not meet the quality standards of Reiki.

      Is that too harsh? I think not, because Reiki has also become a big and often profitable business and worldwide many people make a lot of money with it!

      Seeing a certificate hanging on a wall does not mean much, but observing that person working, living and teaching, that is much more informative, I think….

      I am living and working in Vienna, so my statements are clearly a result of my observations here, maybe the situation is different elsewhere…

      Thank´s for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all!

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