NYS Massage Board decides to take hands-off Reiki

- by Oriethyia

On February 22, 1999 the New York State Massage Board decided in a 6 to 1 vote to recommend that Reiki practitioners be exempt from the regulations required for massage therapists. This now goes to the Department of Education, which is expected to adopt the recommendation.
The Massage Board, part of the NYS Department of Education, has been keeping an eye on the issue of Reiki for a number of years, deciding, sometime in the 1980's, that the modality should fall under their jurisdiction. Technically that meant that a Massage license would have been required to practice Reiki. This came as a surprise to most Reiki practitioners since Reiki, as a discrete practice, does not use the techniques found in massage (manipulation, kneading, pressure, etc.) but is instead an energy-based modality most often utilizing a light hands-on touch.
The September 1998 Massage Board meeting included a presentation by a Massage Therapist who is also a Reiki Practitioner. His treatment made it clear that this was indeed an energy-based practice, and that no massage techniques were involved. The board was unable to vote at the end of that meeting when, as one member had to leave early, they lacked a quorum. They faced a similar problem at their next meeting and rescheduled again for February 22, 1999.
The good news: once this change is official, Reiki practitioners no longer risk running afoul of the Massage laws. The tricky news is, once no longer covered under Massage regulations, Reiki Practitioners must be very careful about how we advertise and promote ourselves and our practices lest we fall under the larger umbrella of "practicing medicine without a license."
The warning here, according to Dr. Kathleen Doyle of the NYS Massage Board, is to stay away from making any claims about Reiki being used to treat specific diseases or ailments. We would not be able to say we offered Reiki for pain management, for example, since "pain management" is considered a medical practice. Non-medical language includes offering Reiki for stress management, maximizing wellness, supporting the healing process, etc. I remarked to Dr. Doyle that the beauty of Reiki, as with other holistic practices, is that "we don't treat diseases, we treat people." She made it clear that we are well served when we stress that distinction.