Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Reiki courses are on sale at City Lit, which should surely know better

Update 8 August 2014 - I've checked the City Lit website for these courses and am pleased to report that all the ones listed below are no longer subsidised by government funding.


Reiki is a pleasant relaxing hand-waving sort of technique that doesn't particularly offend me until someone makes health claims for it, or sells courses in it from an academic institution. A list of the courses is at the end of the post.

Most academic institutions have now stopped courses in homeopathy, which I assume is largely from embarrassment at the response to stories about this getting into the news. I rather hope Reiki comes to a similar end.

I've no objection to independent colleges teaching Reiki or anything else but it seems weird for academic institutions to do so. Perhaps I should be more concerned by availability of course from degree-awarding institutions (possibly City Lit isn't one of these) but in any case I've emailed them asking them why they offer the course and to clarify whether two of their courses are also subsidised by Government funding (which I also find troubling).

In the email I've also requested that students on the courses are given information about the current guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), via the Committee of Advertising Practice's code (CAP code). To teach them a course in stuff that isn't true is bad, but if they're then going out and selling it to the public this complicates the badness which is then further complicated by the fact that skeptic bloggers will then report them to the ASA. These courses do both practitioners and therapy customers a disservice, but I can't see me getting much of a favourable response from independent colleges.

Recently the Nightingale Collaboration asked its newsletter readers (small note - the Nightingale Collaboration doesn't have members, anyone who likes or dislikes the NC can sign up to read their newsletters) to monitor the websites of practitioners who were registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) - this included some Reiki practitioners who are in the list of several modalities that the CNHC will register. Many of them did not make misleading claims but the few that did will have been reported to the CNHC and / or the ASA for doing so.

The CNHC had previously committed to supporting its registrants in complying with the ASA / CAP code so this was a check to see that this was happening. While most were fine it's annoying to see that they're registering people but not really doing a proper job of monitoring what claims are made.

The CAP code on Reiki is very clear about what can and cannot be said and if you're teaching a course in Reiki please make sure that your students understand what's in it, that they read the example adjudications and understand the effect that an adjudication may have on their Google search results (the ASA adjudications show up prominently, and some of the blog posts about individual complaints do too).
Briefly: the ASA / CAP have seen no evidence that Reiki has any physical healing effect on the body, practitioners should be careful about referring to healthcare conditions and should not discourage essential treatment. Testimonials cannot be used as evidence for the effectiveness of Reiki but practitioners may make claims about the relaxing experience of a session and its positive effects on wellbeing, and they can also refer to the history of Reiki.

Energy and relaxation courses at City Lit

Certificate in Reiki healing: stage 1
"Reiki means 'universal energy'. You will be attuned to channel this energy and learn how to treat yourself and others with this gentle system of healing, according to the tradition of Dr Usui."

Certificate in Reiki healing: stage 2
"A continuation from 'Certificate in Reiki healing: stage 1'. Learn how to use Reiki symbols for distance healing and empowering goals."

Certificate in Reiki healing: stage 2 fast track
"A continuation from 'Certificate in Reiki healing: stage 1'. Learn how to use Reiki symbols for distance healing and empowering goals." - this one doesn't seem to exist anymore

Crystal healing and energy work
"Create a sense of well-being at home and in the workplace. Learn simple ways of using crystals to assist in the energising, healing and balancing of the mind, body and emotions."

Healing, creativity and chakras
"Take a journey of discovery through the chakras and experience a more integrated approach to personal growth. Learn how to balance your seven spiritual energy centres and discover new opportunities for creativity, empowerment and self development."

Reiki master certificate
"Learn how to attune others to Reiki and receive your master attunement. You need to have completed 'Reiki certificates' 1 and 2 and be able to draw the Reiki symbols from memory. Students selected through screening process."

Reiki with crystals
"Learn how to integrate crystals into your Reiki healings. Explore how to balance the chakras, boost energy, cleanse the aura, ‘ground and protect’, and enhance your healing environment with a variety of crystals. Suitable if you have completed 'Reiki level 1 and level 2' or are a practitioner."

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).