Updated: Aug 17
Are you interested in booking a session with a local Reiki Practitioner, but struggling to find where to look, or what trust signals to look for?
Well, I was in the same position as you, when I first started to look into Reiki! So many different organisations, types of "certification"- I had no idea as to which qualifications or titles were legitimate or officially ratified. In the United Kingdom, Reiki doesn't have just one main Professional Body - there are several - and multiple international ones as well! And having worked in the Public Sector, in a Regulatory area myself, I tend to want to get to the bottom of who's ultimately in charge, what guidelines and Professional Standards exist, and make sure I'm going to someone reputable, credible, and who takes their Professional Development seriously. So I wasn't just taking people's word anything!
I even found that descriptions of what a Reiki session is or should be like, and what Reiki even is/ how it works were wildly different. I knew I would be in for the long haul - but doing a bit of cyber-sleuthing and getting to the truth of things, is something I'm well versed in - and this would be no different! So I've included links to the official information, so that you can see for yourself, and benefit from my research, as well as the wealth of information I've gleaned, during my time as a student, Practitioner and now CNHC-registered (the UK's Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, set up on the back of a Charity founded by King Charles, no less (Prince Charles at the time)) Reiki Professional Practitioner. So sit back, get your pen & paper out (if you like to do these things old-school) and benefit from my hindsight!
Membership of one of the 8 UK Reiki Professional Bodies
The Reiki Council is "the lead advisory body for professional Reiki practitioners in the UK". It is a not-for-profit organisation in the UK, whose member associations are the following 8 organisations:
The Reiki Council cannot be joined by individual Reiki Practitioners - but the above organisations are open to Reiki Practitioners, and membership in one of them is dependent on meeting their requirements - which can include things like:
Proof of Professional Insurance;
Proof of face to face Reiki training, and lineage verification;
Signing up to the association's Professional Code of Ethics;
Continuous Professional Development;
The organisations above have a searchable register of Practitioner members, which members of the public can access, in order to find a qualified member Practitioner. This is not the only, nor the highest signal of trust out there for Reiki Practitioners, but it's certainly a great place to start!
Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) accreditation
As mentioned previously, the CNHC provides a register of accredited Complementary Therapists, and in fact the Reiki Profession was one of the very first participants. The CNHC was set up by the UK Government, to protect the public, by keeping an independent register of UK practitioners. As their website states:
"All CNHC Registrants have agreed to be bound by the highest standards of conduct and have registered voluntarily. All of them are professionally trained and fully insured to practise."
The CNHC's register of practitioners is available online - simply click the "Find a Practitioner" button towards the left in the website header, and you can search for an accredited therapist by name, profession and location, as well as specifying a radius.
CNHC Reiki Joining Requirements - overview
Joining the CNHC requires Reiki practitioners to have been in practice for 2 years, and to complete several case studies, an assessed treatment and a lengthy questionnaire examination, or to complete an accredited diploma course, which includes a minimum number of supervised learning hours, 100 hours of received treatments, at least 75 hours of treatments given, including 10 x multiple-treatment case studies, assessed treatments, and a questionnaire examination.
Qualification to join the register is a lengthy process, requiring dedication, the highest standards of professionalism, and knowledge/practical know-how, around client wellbeing, safety, empowerment, and ensuring the practitioner is giving the right advice, information and suggesting the best treatment plan to the client.
When a Reiki Practitioner has been accredited and joined the CNHC register, they are then able to work within NHS settings, and the CNHC provides letters and information to GP surgeries about Reiki, as well as information posters, around the importance of going to a trusted Professional Complementary Therapist, for GP surgeries and to promote awareness.
So if you are lucky enough to find a CNHC-accredited Reiki Professional, you can rest assured that they are bound by the highest professional standards and a Code of Conduct, Ethics and Performance.
And you also know that they have gone the extra mile to up-skill themselves with knowledge and training, as well as the fact that their Continuous Professional Development is a priority to them. That is definitely a top marker of trust, in my opinion!
A little background context
When it comes to Reiki Professionalism, there are those who walk the talk around respect, empowerment and integrity. Many of these people will belong to the above category of Regulated or accredited Professional Membership - some will not.
Because Reiki doesn't (at the time of writing this article) have compulsory Regulation (as many other Holistic therapy modalities do) in the UK, it is possible for anyone with a Reiki 2 certificate and lineage to Mikao Usui, to legally offer Reiki to the public for money, as long as they are Professionally insured to do so. The fact that Reiki 2 courses can be delivered by Reiki Master Teachers who have no experience of teaching, no training in teaching, and may not have received the most accurate, thorough or current guidance on giving Reiki treatments from their Reiki Master Teacher. This is especially the case with some people who have a Western Reiki lineage, as one of Hawayo Takata's students, Marianne Streich wrote:
"She did not allow the taking of notes during her classes; her teaching was in the oral tradition, and she expected her students to store her words in memory"
This is part of the colourful (and frankly fascinating) history of Usui Reiki in the West, and some of the reasons it's actually in existence are the reasons for inconsistency, confusion and blockers to professionalism - in ways of working, at least.
Suffice it to say that there is a wide variation in approach, methodology and culture, in the Western Reiki tradition. Looking at a person's approach to Reiki, the way they talk about it to others and on their website, and their attitude or focus, can be a useful measure of Trust, in those who have not joined a Professional Association, as well as for those who have.
Other certification/online directories
As well as the Reiki Council Member Associations and the CNHC, there are a number of Reiki and Complementary Therapy online directories, certification logos and course accreditations in use, in the UK (and elsewhere too).
Without trawling through page after page of accreditor organisation websites or knowing what descriptor terms are officially recognised (and actually mean something) and which are not, it can be easy to accept these supposed Trust Markers at face value, in the same category as a Reiki Council Member Professional Association. However, for many of these certifications, the teaching credentials, skills and National Occupational Standards guidelines are not necessarily even checked. The requirements for one such organisation (IPHM - International Practitioners of Holistic Medicine) states in their Terms & Conditions (for Practitioner members) that
"the fact that a therapist or practitioner's details are on display does not imply any personal or professional recommendation by us. We accept the details offered to us by each practitioner in good faith - that includes their therapy qualifications, memberships/ registrations etc."
(bold added for emphasis)
They go on to say that they advise members of the public to ask to see the qualifications & insurance of their practitioner (since it looks like they don't check this, themselves).
Then there's the Federation of Holistic Therapists, who use the same NOS criteria for their Professional members as the CNHC does, and again looks to have extremely high professional standards, and be a credible, genuinely valuable symbol of trust when practitioners display it.
My Personal Red Flags - as a geeky, CNHC-accredited Practitioner
My own personal perspective on this subject (and I do set the bar quite high) is that, as a Professional Practitioner I would avoid people who do not make the following clear, or who seem to be looking to capitalise on, or to boost their credibility on the basis of people not being aware of these facts:
Reiki does not require any belief or "faith" for it to work;
Anyone attuned to Reiki level 1 right up to Reiki Master Teacher, in Usui Reiki, will always have a direct lineage back to Mikao Usui, the founder of Usui Reiki Ryoho (Japanese lineage) and Usui Shiki Ryoho (Western Lineage);
Things to be mindful/cautious about
The points listed below are not necessarily being done deliberately or to mislead. They can be done with the very best of intentions, but are not necessarily always going to land as intended with clients. There are many different styles taken by Reiki practitioners, and a person can be an incredibly powerful and gifted healer, whilst not necessarily communicating in the most helpful way for everyone. We're all human, after all! Just for your awareness (or if you're a practitioner, please do bear these things in mind):
With a Reiki treatment, the most (and only) important thing for the client to be aware of and engage with, is the client's own experience. This is part of their healing journey, and part of their ownership and empowerment of that journey is the narrative it takes. The client does not need to share anything with the practitioner, and should never feel that is necessary or expected, and the practitioner should not share their experience or interpretation, unless that's requested by the client. The client is the expert - this is about their path and journey - not the practitioner's view of those - which come into play during the treatment itself, and the practitioner's own developmental journey.
Interpretations by a Reiki practitioner of what was happening during a Reiki treatment - ie when you experienced x, it was because y was happening - need to be what they are: suggestions - possible explanations. Unless your practitioner is trained in something like Acupuncture, Shiatsu or Reflexology, they should avoid definitive statements that they were doing x with Reiki and y happened. We do use intention with Reiki, and with the best will in the world, some people have a vivid sense of what has happened, but without the foundations of Qi theory to inform their impressions, they will be seeing things through a narrow lens of their knowledge/experience. If something is said about your treatment which doesn't resonate for you, and isn't provable, you should feel free to disregard it. It doesn't stop the treatment being as good and helpful as it was, and it isn't a required part of the therapeutic process.
Anything you saw or dreamed during your Reiki treatment isn't necessarily going to "mean" something. There are many ways of interpreting these experiences - some people see them in a Spiritual context, some interpret colours according to the Chakra colour associations or colour psychology. Some people like to see things through the lens of Angels, Gods and Goddesses or Saints. And some people see them as being either the brain trying to interpret the energy being experienced by the body, or the brainwave patterns being affected by Reiki.
Reiki is a highly effective Holistic therapy. It is extremely accessible and very easy to learn/start to use - and it makes a massive difference to many people's lives. It's not without excellent reasons that it's so popular and well-known! From celebrities to working-class people, learning Reiki and receiving Reiki treatments has been embraced and made use of by people from all backgrounds and social situations, across the world, since Hawayo Takata introduced Reiki to the US, before World War 2.
Things to bear in mind
Along with the accessibility of Reiki, the speed of its growth throughout the Western World, and as it has been adapted to different cultures, social systems and, groups and belief systems, the different ways it has been embraced, used and taught, as wonderful and human as they are, have led to some incorrect and less than professional practice, and can be problematic in the modern world. Especially with the internet, Reiki has become another area for some people to take or create short-cuts, and its lack of compulsory regulation and awareness, has meant that there is a lot of conflicting and subjective, often incorrect or mis-informed "information" widely available, about Reiki.
The difficulties in understanding Reiki & finding out the facts
This makes it very difficult for people not already connected to the world of Reiki, to understand its nature, and engage with the facts. Even some people working in other Complementary Therapy modalities can confuse and conflate poor, unprofessional Reiki practice, with charlatanism or laziness. To some degree I feel that this may on occasion, be due to professional snobbery or defensiveness. After all, you don't need the same theoretical learning to be a Reiki professional - all that work, learning and assessment, versus 2-4 days training (because Reiki does no harm and has no contra-indications). It must be less helpful and valuable, otherwise what's the point in all that study - right?! Wrong! Both are different and have their own strengths and areas of learning, one from the other.
Professional Standards & Reiki's Signals of Trust
Professional Bodies like the UK Reiki Federation, and other members of the UK Reiki Council, have been making significant progress in recent years, to put Professional Industry Standards in place, and to build the reputation and credibility of Reiki, in order to achieve an integrated Healthcare System in the United Kingdom - making Reiki accessible to all, alongside other Complementary and Natural Healthcare Therapies, working in tandem with Traditional Western Medicine.
Although there is still progress to be made, these organisations are working in the right way to make integration with Government-Regulated and Funded organisations, not just possible, but a reality! More and more hospitals are calling for Reiki therapists, and since Covid-19, the Mental Health issues which were exacerbated by the pandemic, became more urgent, widespread, and amongst more groups of people, including young children. The NHS is in a position now where it seems to be more open to referring to Complementary therapists, and I am hopeful that some day, Reiki training will be commonplace amongst staff in GP surgeries, as well as for their patients' self-care and wellbeing.
Hopefully this article will give you a good starting place to start looking for a great, trustworthy Reiki Professional in your area! We are out there - and now you know how to find us!
Have you found it difficult looking for a Reiki professional? What has been your experience (if any) with different approaches amongst Reiki therapists? What do you think about the idea of an Integrated Health Care model, available to all?