Massachusetts State Hearing on Licensing Reiki and Other Holistic Practices

The Massachusetts legislature will hear zoom testimony on the proposed bills to require licensing for Reiki and other non-invasive healing practices on December 13. We need your help to oppose these bills. Here’s what you can do.

The bills to be opposed are S.221 and H.350. Having bills in both legislative houses shows how fast the Attorney General wants them signed into law. That would hurt a lot of people, not only the professionals who provide holistic care but also the public who would have reduced access this care, have to pay higher fees, and in many cases, receive poorer quality care because the control would not be in the hands of experts in each field, but rather of bureaucrats.

What would be the outcomes if the bills are passed?

If passed, those bills would require professionals who practice Reiki and other non-invasive holistic therapies to be licensed by the state.

What’s wrong with that?

To start, non-invasive therapies don’t require licensing to protect the public from harm. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states there’s no evidence of harm from Reiki practice, so why would a state try to regulate it?

The bills were introduced by the Massachusetts Attorney General. We don’t know her motivation, but it’s always smart to follow the money. If passed, the bills would take money out of Reiki professional’s pockets and put it into state coffers.

Many Reiki professionals, unable to pay the licensing costs, would be forced out of business. That means more people without jobs, and more families needing public assistance, especially in our most vulnerable populations, women and people of color.

I’m no economist, but it doesn’t make sense to force small businesses to close just as we’re trying to rebuild our economy. And it gets worse.

Those Reiki and other holistic professionals who can manage the licensing fees would have to raise their rates to offset the increased cost of business. That means the public would pay more for services, and given how many people are already financially stretched, some wouldn’t be able to afford it. So the public won’t be taking as good care of their health, just as we’re facing a new pandemic variant.

Are you wondering, “What are these people in the MA legislature thinking?” They’re thinking they’ll get away with it because you won’t bother doing anything to stop them.

How You Can Oppose MA Licensing, NOW

It’s time to take action. Truly, it’s now or never time. You can voice your opinion whether or not you live in MA, but more weight is given to MA residents because they vote for the legislators.

You have 2 options to keep Reiki and other practices free from unnecessary government control.

The first is to give oral testimony by zoom on Monday, December 13, or possibly Tuesday, December 14. To do that, you need to register by 5 PM Eastern time Thursday, December 9.

Your other option is to email written testimony before or on December 13 to [email protected].

Even better is to email the above address plus all these legislators: [email protected], brendan.crighto[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected]

It’s important to use the following as the subject of your email (both bills must be listed): Testimony in Opposition of S.221 and H.350, An Act Regulating Alternative Healing Therapies.

Advice for Writing Your Comments

Keep your comments respectful, credible and succinct. Give 1-3 reasons for your opposition to the bills; don’t just state your opposition.

Anyone who values receiving care from holistic practitioners can submit a brief statement of opposition, something along the lines of, “I don’t want my access to these valuable and safe healing practices limited by my government.” Adding a personal detail can be helpful as it evokes emotion in the reader. For example, “I suffered debilitating migraines for years until I started receiving Reiki treatments. The headaches became less frequent and far less painful within my first few Reiki treatments. I also noticed I was more productive at work. Now I only need an occasional session to maintain my health and well-being.”

After sharing briefly how Reiki practice has helped you, you can add your concern that regulation will limit your access to Reiki or other practices will be limited by regulation, and would cost more.

You could also mention concerns that such regulation disproportionately and adversely affects already marginalized populations such as people of color and women. You might point out that the NIH states Reiki practice “hasn’t been shown to have any harmful effects,” and government regulation is not needed to protect the public.

End your email with a request to “please oppose S.221 and H.350.”

Be mindful in your communication

Be credible. Don’t try to explain Reiki; that’s not going to help here. Be careful that your comments don’t leave the reader thinking Reiki practitioners are out of touch with the mainstream, and that our practice needs to be regulated to protect the public. It’s unlikely the legislators have any direct experience of Reiki practice, and what they’ve heard might be quite different than your practice or experience.

You want you comments to be taken seriously. It can be helpful to have someone else take a look before you send.

Leave your comment in the comment section below if you would like my feedback. 

Please Remember:

  • Your voice matters; please help as you can. It’s just as important for legislators to hear from the public as it is for them to hear expert opinion.
  • Register for oral testimony by 5 PM EST on December 9 and submit written testimony by December 13.
  • If MA enacts regulation, it sets a precedent other states might follow. Oregon is working on regulation and Vermont has already passed it.
  • The proposed legislation would affect not only Reiki practice, but also Qi Gong, Asian Bodywork Therapy, Trager, Feldenkrais, Ayurvedic Therapies, Reflexology, Polarity Therapy, Rolf Structural Integration, Body Mind Centering, Acupressure, Energy and Somatic Healing Practices, all of which are currently exempt from regulation according to the existing MA massage licensing law. The bills allow for adding more practices to that list.
  • If passed, the bills would take effect immediately.
  • If the bills are passed, Reiki practice could be taught legally only in state-sanctioned schools, and MA Reiki master teachers would have to follow a state determined curriculum. It would cost MA Reiki master teachers upwards of $8000 in fees to register as a school.
  • Passage of these bills would create a committee of 3 massage therapists, 1 consumer 1 law enforcement professional, and 2 others who would determine regulations for all non-massage holistic practices. The Reiki community itself includes an unknown number of approaches (estimates start at 100+). No one is there to protect the integrity and diversity of traditional practices.
  • Again, anyone can voice an opinion whether you’re an MA resident or not, but more weight is given to MA residents because they vote for the legislators.

PLEASE SHARE WITH ANYONE IN MASSACHUSETTS

If you don’t live in MA, whether or not you give testimony, please share this information with friends who live there. Remember they don’t have to practice Reiki; they could be people who practice or receive care from other non-invasive practices that would be regulated, which is a long list that can grow to include more practices. Or they could be people who prefer small government.

If you’re unsure whether you oppose these bills, please read this.

The hearing will be public. Anyone can view using the link in the upper right side of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure page.

Join my ReikiUpdate list to receive credible Reiki information tailored to your interests, including invitations to my free global Reiki self practice sessions. If you also want to stay informed of this and future legislative threats, join my Protect Reiki list.

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10 thoughts on “Massachusetts State Hearing on Licensing Reiki and Other Holistic Practices”

  1. Dear Pamela,
    I just sent my opposition statement. (I understood you to say that it should be sent to the single joint committee email address, not individuals.) I share below. I am happy to be part of this effort and to have the opportunity to think through all that Reiki offers, on a personal level and on a global level, and to understand that it must be protected.

    I am writing in opposition to S.221 and H.350, which would regulate alternative healing therapies.

    I am grateful for the many benefits I have received through Reiki sessions, training, and–after many years of practice–a deepening knowledge and experience of Reiki itself. Out of respect for Reiki traditions and, in particular, for the four Reiki teacher/practitioners I have come to know, I raise my concerns.

    While my focus here is on Reiki, the practice I know best, my opposition to regulation is not limited to Reiki. I have long been interested in the field of “energy medicine/energy healing,” and in traditional practices like Qi Gong and Ayurvedic therapy; acupuncture, reflexology, Feldenkrais. I find no convincing reason to regulate them. They are well-established, with a history of safe, beneficial use.

    As a longtime meditator and student of yoga, I was drawn to Reiki for its open, non-directive approach to healing: no diagnosing, no prescriptive treatment, no targeting of symptoms. I understood, and welcomed, the spiritual essence of Reiki, inviting the body, mind and spirit to be receptive to the inner wisdom and healing capacity we all have.

    I treasure the gentleness of Reiki. The healing balm that a Reiki experience can impart is subtle, difficult to quantify; akin, for me, to deep meditation, prayer, beautiful music, a quiet walk in a forest, the melting colors of a sunset, the face of a baby. The benefits accrue and are hard to measure.

    My comparisons are not meant to be lofty or ethereal because Reiki in practice is accessible and experiential. As the NIH has cited, Reiki “hasn’t been shown to have any harmful effects.” Reiki can be a safe complement–not alternative–to medical care and treatment.

    I am not opposed to regulation and licensing when needed. But in the case of Reiki it seems ill-advised and counter-productive. If the goal is to foster health and well-being safely and affordably in the largest numbers of people, giving all a chance to make their personal healthcare choices, then regulation would likely work in opposition to that goal. Especially concerning in this regard is that Reiki is included under a wide umbrella of healing therapies, each one distinct from the other in purpose, method, application. 

    I note again here that I am not suggesting regulation for the other wholistic therapies under scrutiny; I am pointing out their variances, which, even if regulation were warranted, would defy the attempt to create a uniform set of regulations applicable to each and all.

    Regulation would also put a financial strain on practitioners and clients. Dedicated and gifted Reiki teachers/practitioners I know would be hard pressed to sustain added costs, and to adhere to regulations not aligned with their practices. We who value and rely on Reiki sessions and teaching would have fewer teachers, more expense, and –with poorly matched requirements– a more generalized, pallid Reiki experience.

    Please vote no on S.221 and H.350.

    Susan Powers
    Columbia, Md. 
    (Although not a Massachusetts resident, I see the potential harmful effect this proposed legislation could have in setting a precedent for other states.)

  2. Here is the email that I sent:

    To whom it may concern:

    I’ve been made aware of two pieces of legislation, S.221 and H.350, to regulate alternative healing therapies. I have benefited greatly from receiving Reiki treatment to get through the stress induced by the COVID shutdown and the ongoing threat and livelihood restrictions that have been placed on all of us during this historic pandemic. I and countless others are currently benefiting from Reiki and other alternatives, non-invasive, and non-medical treatment modalities such as Qi Gong, Asian Bodywork Therapy, Trager, Feldenkrais, Ayurvedic Therapies, Reflexology, Polarity Therapy, Rolf Structural Integration, Body-Mind Centering, Acupressure, Energy and Somatic Healing, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Myofascial Release Therapy etc.

    Currently, Reiki and the other modalities are easily accessible to everyone and affordable. One does not need to get a referral from a doctor, one can receive ongoing treatment to support them without limitations nor restrictions placed by insurance companies or the medical community. Furthermore, such regulation will disproportionately and negatively affect already marginalized populations such as people of color and women.

    Reiki and other such holistic practices have not been shown to have any harmful effects and government regulation is not needed to protect the public. These practices are not licensed because they’ve been deemed non-invasive. The NIH explicitly says on its website there’s no evidence of harm connected to Reiki.

    Please, I urge you to consider and please oppose bills S.221 and H.350 from becoming law.

    Sincerely,

    Cyd Dashkoff

  3. So what’s next? We will need s license to pray? This is a very disturbing trend of governmental over reach. I will add my energy to resisting these actions there and in other states.

  4. I’m an RN who has left traditional nursing and provide energy healing to clients in distress from pain, depression, anxiety and so much more. I already am licensed in MA as an RN and work has been severely impacted by Covid. I teach Reiki and without the income I will be forced into early retirement. I cannot afford to pay to register and license my practice as a school. Not only will patients be impacted but hard working holistic practitioners who already are hurting financially. This is state over reach which is financially motivated. This is not in the best interest of energy workers who are just trying to make this a better world and decrease the use of prescription meds as well as helping with the huge mental health epidemic.

  5. Hi Pamela,
    Here’s the letter I sent.
    Thanks for alerting us to this opportunity to speak up about Reiki.
    Daphne Gilman
    Reiki Master Teacher
    https://reikistory.weebly.com

    “I discovered Reiki when my dear friend, a scientist [in electrical engineering], was a patient at the San Diego Cancer Center, now part of UCSD’s medical system. He credits Reiki with healing the intense stress of a life-changing diagnosis, oncology surgery, and treatment.

    “Without Reiki, I wouldn’t have made it through treatment,” he told me.

    I learned that the NIH says Reiki “hasn’t been shown to have any harmful effects” while well-regarded scientific studies confirming the efficacy of Reiki are accumulating. Inspired by my friend’s story, I decided to ask the cancer center’s Reiki practitioner to train me.

    Now, 15 years later, my friend receives Reiki regularly as part of his ongoing regimen for staying cancer-free, and I have opened a Reiki practice, seeing patients with cancer, severe anxiety, chronic pain, those undergoing surgery, and those in hospice care.

    I can afford to help these patients because in California and Arizona, Reiki patients are protected by laws that acknowledge the benign and helpful nature of Reiki and I do not have to maintain an expensive state license.

    Please consider which residents of Massachusetts will be most harmed by sudden regulation: the chronically ill and the dying. These new regulations will add to their suffering.

    If you want to learn more about Reiki, may I recommend Ann Baldwin, PhD’s new book “Reiki in Clinical Practice” and Pamela Miles’s “Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide.”

    Please oppose S.221 and H.350.

    Thank you,
    Daphne Gilman
    Reiki Master Teacher

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your well written testimony, Dafne. I appreciate your effort and hope your example inspires others to share a personal story so clearly.

      I disagree, however, that “well regarded scientific studies confirming the efficacy of Reiki are accumulating.” I know there are those in our community who make a big fuss about the research, but their regard is not shared by the scientific community or the NIH. Being published does not a well regarded study make. I’m looking over the research as I prepare to give my Reiki & Medicine Intensive, and unfortunately there are still very few Reiki studies of merit.

  6. Hi Pamela,
    I forwarded your last email to a sister that lives in MA and is active in natural therapies in that area. She shared with me about a large influx of people in her community that are completing three levels of reiki training in a virtual weekend (reiki 1 and 2 on Saturday and Master on Sunday) and then were free to hang their shingle. I realize I went through my training over 13 years ago but even with my other holistic studies, it was always understood that we needed time in between the training sessions to connect and understand the energy we are working with.

    She was telling me of one incident where a friend went through the weekend training, called herself a master and offered her a free 30 minute session if my sister would be willing to write a recommendation. Originally it would be virtual, then the healer asked if it could be done over the phone and lastly she felt it would be easier if she just texted my sister to let her know when she started and stopped. My sister politely declined. In truth I have had to do something similar when working remotely with a person but that was after years of energy work and the person was in hospice during covid.

    I agree that lumping everybody into one category isn’t fair but I do have issues with that type of healing work. A few years back we had a lady join our reiki circle, had trained level 1 and 2 over the phone (before zoom) and also received her attunements over the phone. She had no idea about hand placements, how to do symbols, etc and eventually one of our fellow reiki masters retrained her properly for free.

    It’s that type of stuff that hurts those of us that take the work seriously and likely why it keeps coming up in legislation. It seems to be more common as people are looking for ways to work remotely.

    A blanket law hurts all of us and I agree that it cannot pass as is, but I do think some sort of monitoring might be needed. Reiki by itself is non intrusive but if the person doesn’t know what they are calling in for energy then it can become a very gray area.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts from a different perspective.
    Sincerely,
    Mary

  7. Thanks Pamela for keeping us up to date on this. I have written my comments and submitted them to the emails listed above. My browser would not send them until I changed the comma after each one to a semicolon. I’ll share it here in case anyone else runs across that.
    [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected].

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