Fraud and Incompetence in Reiki, in Energy Work, in Other Therapies, and in the Counselling Professions

In Reiki

There are number of reasons why one finds incompetent Reiki practitioners. Reiki has primarily been an oral tradition. After it was brought to North America, some dilution and distortion of its teachings occurred in many ways. Some people added elements of other kinds of energy work to the traditional approach, or altered elements. Then when they taught Reiki to others, they did not distinguish their additions and changes from what was traditional Reiki. As their students passed on what they learned, and perhaps changed it again, original Reiki elements were completely lost.

Some teachers shorten classes, and students do not have sufficient time to learn the necessary techniques. Some teach too much at once, such as combining First and Second Degree classes in one weekend, and again students end up confused about how to use Reiki.

Also, some people simply are not competent teachers, and their students, though certified, do not understand Reiki. Reiki contains a process by which the Reiki Master actually empowers the student to receive and transmit Reiki. If there has been any alteration or miscommunication in the Reiki teacher’s learning of this process, it will not work. Her students will not be able to provide Reiki.

There are also people who are outright frauds. They call themselves Reiki Masters but have not received appropriate training. Some use additional tools or techniques with Reiki (which does not in itself violate the tradition) but call the resulting methods simply Reiki. This results in false claims such as “I use the Reiki crystals,” and “Learn the Reiki symbols for healing sexual abuse.” There are no crystals or sexual abuse healing symbols in Reiki.

Some people attach religious systems to Reiki, resulting in false claims such as “ a Reiki Angel,” and “ a Reiki priestess.” Some give themselves special titles that make it sound like they are high up in a Reiki hierarchy. Except for one Grand Master in the Reiki Alliance branch of Reiki, there is no hierarchical structure in the practice of Reiki today. Everyone is simply a First Degree, Second Degree or Third Degree Reiki Master. If someone calls herself something else, investigate before trusting her to treat or teach you.

Some practices calling themselves Reiki further divide the traditional three degrees of training into as many as seven, and some separate “Master Teacher” from “Master Therapist” or “Master Practitioner” in the giving of degrees. This actually results in less training, as a Master Practitioner or Therapist receives only a tiny portion of the traditional Third Degree Master training. Seven Degrees simply divide the Third Degree training into seven classes; it does not add anything to the training. Complete Reiki training is contained in the traditional three Degrees.

In General

There are fraudulent and incompetent people in all fields, including conventional medicine. Since energy work is unregulated, it is especially prone to such people. Counselors, in many states, are also unregulated—one simply registers with the state by buying a business license. Hypnotherapists and most bodyworkers are also unlicensed and unregulated. They may call themselves “certified” or “licensed” but the certification is given by the teacher or sponsoring organization, and so is not an indication of quality of training.

Use the same methods to check out your energy worker, bodyworker, counselor or hypnotherapist as you would use to check out a car before you bought it. In fact, take more time and care—your health is a lot more important. It takes only a few minutes to ask the following questions:

  • Is the school they attended accredited? This means it meets federal standards for curriculum and graduation requirements.

  • Is there a sponsoring organization behind the training? Many trainings with very legitimate-sounding names are fronts for cults. Others are backed by religious groups and have particular religious orientations you may want to know about ahead of time. If you are unfamiliar with an organization offering treatment or training, or if something just feels wrong or, on the other hand, too good to be true, you can check with in the U.S. or Infocult in Canada (5655 Park Ave., #208, Montreal, QC H2V 4H2), to see if it is a legitimate business or church.

  • If you have doubts about the practitioner or organization, you can find out if there have been any complaints in the past. Check with your state’s Health Department, Attorney General’s Office, or other government body, and the Better Business Bureau.

  • (If the training was from an individual, such as an herbal apprenticeship or Reiki training:) Who was their teacher? Can you call the teacher or otherwise check out their background?

  • Did the training include hands-on practice, or was it only theoretical?

  • How long did the training last? (A weekend? Four years?) Did it include an internship, apprenticeship, or other kind of supervised clinical practice?

  • If a counsellor, do they observe standard therapeutic boundaries? These include no personal relationships with clients (including friendships) and strict confidentiality.

  • What else does the practitioner do? Is their lifestyle in agreement with their healing principles?

  • How long have they been in practice?

  • How many people have they treated who had the same needs as you do? What is their success rate?

  • Do they act in a professional manner? Do they return phone calls, keep appointments, and fulfill promises?

  • How much do they charge? Are their fees proportionate to their training and experience? Are their fees in line with what is generally charged in their field? (More expensive is not necessarily better. Many of the most talented practitioners have sliding fees or other ways to accommodate various financial situations. Disproportionately high fees may be a warning sign.)

  • Do not be misled by fame. A practitioner may be well-known, may even have written books on the subject, and still be incompetent.

  • Do they proclaim a lot of specialties? For example, “Specializing in counseling for families, couples, adolescents, and individuals,” or “Counseling for grief, abuse, addiction, trauma and depression,” or “...uses hypnotherapy, Jungian analysis, NLP and One-Brain techniques.” It takes years to master a healing art or science. The practitioner should have appropriate training and experience for each population and each technique about which they advertise.

  • Are they healthy or healing? Is light and joy singing in their eyes? (If their methods are not helping them, how can they help you?)

    A further suggestion: be careful about books, too. Because something looks official by being in print, we often trust it as truthful and bound to help us. This may be the case, but not necessarily. There are, for example, Reiki books which contain a lot of improvisation which the authors claim are true parts of the Reiki tradition. And, of course, the same is true about the internet.

           This article is excerpted from HEAL WITH YOUR HANDS, ©1995 by Barbara Clearbridge