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Florida, Reiki and the Board of Massage

by William Lee Rand

There has been a lot of concern and confusion about practicing Reiki in Florida since the Board of Massage Therapy ruled that Reiki is massage. People have had different opinions about what they actually did, what this means for Reiki people and what can be done to solve the problem.

To find out the facts and get expert opinion concerning this issue, I contacted Deborah Miller a Florida attorney who is active in the health freedom movement. Deborah has practiced for many years in professional licensure law. She has been following the actions of the Florida Board of Massage Therapy and was able to explain the situation to me.

The following information is a summery and is based on documents she sent, and emails and phone conversations I've had with Deborah. To see the whole article, please click here.

The Florida Board of Massage Therapy can interpret the Florida Massage Law and decide what practices are massage. In 1999 the Board voted that Reiki is massage and that anyone practicing Reiki needs to have a massage license. They understand that Reiki doesn't always involve touching the body, and that the client remains fully clothed, but decided that Reiki is massage anyway. They are concerned that if Reiki does not require a massage license, then many other modalities will want to be deregulated also.

They also feel that Reiki practitioners who become ministers are just trying to get around the law. They feel that this misleads the public.

The Board of Massage Therapy can interpret the law, but they do not enforce it. Enforcement is up to the Department of Health. If someone complained to the Department of Health that someone without a massage license was giving Reiki treatments then they could respond in several ways. They could send a Cease and Desist Notice, telling the practitioner to stop providing Reiki. If the practitioner continues, they could take the person to court. They could also issue a Citation imposing an administrative penalty up to $5000.00 - which could be contested by the practitioner. They could also ask a civil court to impose a civil fine against the unlicensed practitioner. And finally they could seek the arrest and criminal prosecution of the unlicensed Reiki practitioner. Anyone can make a complaint and it is possible that licensed massage therapists would take on the "project" of ferreting out and making formal complaints against unlicensed practitioners. Once the case gets to court, it would be possible to argue that Reiki is not massage and get a new ruling. But this would be expensive and there is the risk that the judge would not rule in your favor.

One consideration is that the Department of Health has limited resources and there is a good chance that they would have more important things to do and that a complaint would not be acted on. But there is no guarantee of this.

Religious Defense?
Some Florida Reiki practitioners have become ministers through the mail or over the internet by simply filling out some papers and making a donation or paying a fee, believing that they do not then need a massage license. It's thought that by claiming that Reiki is a spiritual practice and part of ones religion, the practitioner is protected. However, this is not a good defense and in most cases will not protect one from the ruling of the massage board. For more details on this issue, please click here.

In addition, a court may rule that money paid to an individual practitioner, rather than directly to a religious institution, is a fee for the Reiki service, rather than a donation to the church, thus making the religious defense invalid.

A Good Solution
Deborah Miller is the president of the Florida Health Freedom Action (FHFA), a group of both licensed and unlicensed health care practitioners who believe that the public has the right to choose their health care therapies and practitioners - and that people have the right to work in their chosen occupation - without unnecessary governmental regulation. FHFA believes that low and no risk health care therapies should be available to both licensed and unlicensed persons, as long as the public knows about the practitioner's training and therapies offered, and whether or not they are licensed.

FHFA is working to pass the "Consumer Health Freedom Act". The Act would change Florida law to allow practitioners of low or no risk therapies, including Reiki, to practice even though they are not a licensed health care provider. This legislation will solve the above mentioned problem the Florida Board of Massage Therapy has created for Reiki practitioners and allow them to practice Reiki without needing to get a massage license. It will also establish Reiki as a "shared practice" between licensed and unlicensed practitioners.

Your Help is Needed
This is a viable solution that is being promoted by competent people who understand the legal system in Florida and have a high likelihood of success. However in order to succeed, they need help. If you would like to volunteer please contact Deborah at FHFA, P.O. Box 430871, South Miami, FL 33243-0871, Phone: 305 668 2800, Fax: 305 662 1665,
Email: info@floridahealthfreedom.org Website: www.floridahealthfreedom.org

This has been a summery of the complete article, to see the whole article, please click here

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