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Massage Board Takes Hands Off Healers
NEW YORK (AP) - The state Massage
Board on Monday took its hands off spiritual healers. The board voted
to recommend that practitioners of Reiki - an ancient technique with roots
in Eastern cultures - be exempt from regulations for massage therapists.
"I am absolutely thrilled," said
Ellen Kahne, a Reiki master from Queens. "Reiki is for relaxation and
reducing stress. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the practice of
medicine. It has to do with the laying on of hands and healing."
For the past two decades, Reiki
practitioners have technically been required to hold a license for massage
therapy, although most do not.
Gina Martin, chairwoman of the
Massage Board, said the board realized the requirement made no sense after
seeing a Reiki demonstration in September. "There was no touching involved,"
The board voted 6-1 to recommend
that the license requirement be removed by the state Department of Education,
which regulates various professions. The Department of Education will
likely adopt the recommendation in a week or so.
Louisiana Zinn, a Reiki practitioner
who heads the Coalition for Non-Massage Therapists, was relieved by the
vote. "We consider Reiki a spiritual healing modality," she said. "We
are not treating anyone medically. We don't make diagnoses. We don't make
any claims to heal anyone. ... And we don't feel we should come under
their scrutiny or restrictions."
So how does a consumer distinguish
a charlatan from an expert? Just as you would with any professional, ask
how much training and experience the person has had, and seek references
from satisfied customers. Although Reiki practitioners can obtain a certificate
for what is called Reiki I and Reiki II training after just a weekend's
worth of training, a Reiki master may have up to 1,600 hours of training
taken over four years. Several Reiki organizations, including the Manhattan-based
International Independent Reiki Masters & Practitioners Association and
other institutes in Texas, Idaho and elsewhere, certify graduates.
Reiki treatments work like this:
The subject lies down - fully clothed - and the practitioner moves his
or her hands over the person's head and body. Usually the hands hover
a few inches above the person, but sometimes they touch. But unlike massage,
there is no manipulation or movement of the flesh. Reiki is a Japanese
term meaning energy and universal life force, and practitioners say they
are guiding this energy into their patients.
The sole dissenter on the Massage
Board, Stephen Chagnon, said he didn't have enough information to make
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