Saving Reiki Healing in Texas

Guest blogger San Antonio Reiki master Carolyn Maloney has worked hard to save Reiki healing in Texas. Here she shares how Texas Reiki practitioners foiled two attempts to license Reiki practice. The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals map tells you where you can ascertain if Reiki practice is regulated in your state.

Reiki Healing in TexasKeeping Reiki Healing in Texas Unregulated
by Carolyn Maloney

When I heard in 2007 that there was another bill before the Texas state legislature to regulate Reiki healing, I thought, “Not again!”

The first attempt to require Reiki practitioners to be licensed came before the Texas House of Representatives in 1998. The Reiki community was stunned to learn the move to regulate Reiki practice in Texas was led by one of our own.

A Reiki master with a connection in state government maneuvered a bill to the House of Representatives which if passed, would name her as the only recognized Reiki master in the state of Texas, and only her students would be legal to practice or teach in Texas.

Protecting Reiki healing in Texas from one of our own in 1998

In 1998, once we got past the initial shock, we quickly formed a group, the Texas Independent Reiki Practitioners Association (TIRPA), and mobilized.

TIRPA went to the state capitol in Austin. We spoke to any senators and representatives we could reach, and mostly to their staff, explaining that Reiki practice is neither massage nor a medical intervention. We set up tables in the capitol rotunda and practiced Reiki healing on everyone who was willing.

Our efforts were effective in helping people in the capitol realize they did not have to remove their clothes and that we didn’t even have to touch them. A few days later one of our senators called and said the bill had fallen off the table.

Our group was happy and we hoped it was all over.

Foiling the 2007 licensing attempt

The threat of licensing in 2007 came after a spa that had advertised “energy work” was busted for prostitution. At the same time, there was talk from other quarters that Reiki practice is a cult or somehow inherently evil.

TIRPA had long since disbanded, but Peter McCarthy, chair of the Texas Health Freedom Coalition, helped us figure out what to do this time. Peter’s wife is a Reiki practitioner and he encouraged us to call the representatives and senators to remind them Reiki is not massage.

We gathered Reiki practitioners from all over Texas, regardless their practice style, and crafted a letter to the legislators, with a statement explaining that Reiki practice is not a religion or a cult, but a balancing practice somewhat similar to a practiced used by many nurses, called Therapeutic Touch.

The letter made the following points:

  • Reiki practice is complementary to conventional medicine
  • Reiki practitioners do not diagnose or prescribe
  • Reiki practice is a non-invasive balancing practice.

We associated Reiki practice with the popular family movie, Karate Kid. There is a scene in which the little boy is hurt in sparring, and Mr. Miyage places hands on the little boy and heals him. The letter also specified that Reiki practitioners do not tell people to stop taking medication and would refer clients to a doctor if a situation required professional assessment.

We asked each Reiki person to copy the letter and mail it as a signed statement to their individual state senator and representative, whom they could find listed on the state website.

The approach of education resolved the controversy and stopped the discussion of licensing. At least for now.


MAINSTREAMING REIKI: Is Reiki Safe? webinar recordings are now available! As local regulators become more aware of Reiki practice, it becomes even more critical for Reiki practitioners to discuss safety credibly, without resorting to beliefs. Part 1 will help you do that, and Part 2 addresses practitioner safety.
Part 1: Is the Client Safe?
Part 2: Is the Practitioner Safe?

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10 thoughts on “Saving Reiki Healing in Texas”

  1. I am stating a practice in Brownsville/ Rancho Viejo TX area this 2018. have bee researching if Reiki is legistated in TX. Would like your expert point of view.
    Thank You

  2. I see all the above posts are from 2013. Have there been any recent changes, as far as Reiki being regulated in Texas?

  3. In Maine, Reiki is specifically exempted from the massage therapy licensing statute — along with modalities such as polarity, Trager, Rolfing and a few others.

    We did have one incident many years ago, where Reiki was used as a front for an individual prostitute; no legislation or lobbying came of that.
    Currently, Zumba has gone through some similar bad press here, but will recover, and no one is talking about regulating Zumba due to one notorious case.

    Also about ten years ago, there was a serious concern in the Maine Reiki community, as the state attempted to regulate teaching. It turned out that attempt was due to a misunderstanding of the nature of Reiki teaching.
    After several meetings within the Reiki community, and detailed email exchanges with the relevant state employee, we cleared up the misunderstanding, and published an explanation to Reiki teachers of the guidelines, easily observed, that would keep them out of the regulatory domain.

    In that case, some strong leaders in the Reiki community came forth, and kept us balanced and focused, emphasizing calm, reasoned communication. We might otherwise have seen Reiki teaching come to a halt in Maine for a good long time.

    As Reiki practice continues to grow in Maine, we are considering how best to be proactive within current and possible future political and regulatory climates. Pamela’s visit to Maine this past July, giving her Communicating Reiki talk, prompted us to to think about our public image. I’ve already met with my state representative to gauge her understanding of and attitude toward Reiki.

    We have active and dedicated people in the Maine Reiki community; many with professional status in medicine and other related fields, and with good reputations in their non-Reiki work. So, the foundation is strong.

  4. I’m also in Texas and moved here from Arizona in 2006. I remember the 2007 fiasco. Some of the practitioners I know basically just ignore the issue because they know that the staffing to enforce whatever loophole they can find just doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, it leaves the door open for someone to push that button, and I think David is correct.

    I work primarily with animals, but since there’s no real difference and I could also work with people, the laws still pose problems. To add to the complexity, working with animals also leaves people open to being held accountable under veterinary laws.

    In AZ, there was a huge uproar in the 90s because the veterinary board wanted to stop anyone who wasn’t a licensed vet from working on animals. As my vet said, “Vets don’t have time to float horses teeth and be the farrier too,” which is what the law would have meant. It would be nice if anyone looked at these things logically and looked beyond the money.

  5. The thing is, it’s un-regulated but it’s my belief that is may be illegal.

    HB 2644 “A person may not for compensation perform or offer to perform any service with a purported health benefit that involves physical contact with a client unless the person:
    (1) holds an appropriate license issued under this

    After this bill was passed, the author clarified it didn’t cover modalities such as yoga, where touch is incidental. There was also a lot of concern expressed by various practitioners, including Reiki, that they’re not massage therapists and should have different rules. The Texas Dept. of State Health Services responded that was too onerous a burden, too many modalities, and they were “authorized” but “not required” to implement these rules. The Texas legislature did not include funding in the budget to enforce the rules.

    So, barring some egregious legal violation, Reiki that involves touch is probably prohibited by law, but there is no agency to enforce the law.

    It’s an uncomfortable loophole, as far as I’m concerned, but it does allow me to practice Reiki without fear of being punished.

    So, to say that it isn’t regulated isn’t exactly the whole story down here in Texas.

    1. David,

      Thank you for bringing up this important point. There is a difference between regulation and licensing.

      I emailed the Massage Therapy Licensing Program of the Texas Department of State Health Services yesterday and received a prompt reply saying Reiki practice is not regulated in Texas.

      But you accurately point out that not being regulated doesn’t mean Reiki practice is legal. In a broad sense, practitioners of any health care practice (which is how the government categorizes Reiki practice) that is not protected by licensing are vulnerable. But practices such as Reiki that are deemed to be non-invasive do not generally warrant the lengthy, expensive process that is usually involved in health care licensing.

      That’s why there have been grassroots movements in many states to enact health freedom legislation.

      I encourage Texans interested in this movement to click the link in the post above for the Texas Health Freedom coalition. People in other states can contact the National Health Freedom organization to see if there is a grassroots health freedom movement in their state.

      As of this post, Minnesota, Rhode Island, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Idaho have passed health freedom laws.

    2. As we all know, physical touch isn’t required to perform Reiki; however, David has a point. How does a practitioner prove there was no touching? The only answer would be to have an assistant in the room, like doctors often do during exams. Personally, I’ve never made enough money to practice that way. Since I have physical limitations now, my website provides information and offers distance care (which eliminates the possibility of touch being involved). Then, one has to wonder whether I’m subject to the laws of my state or the state where the receiving party resides or both.

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