Reiki and Legislation

In the UK the following are noted:

  1. A parent or guardian who wilfully fails to provide adequate medical aid for a child under the age of 16 may be committing a criminal offence. Reiki is not defined as a medical aid by law so anyone who gives Reiki to a child whose parents refuse medical aid could be seen to be aiding and abetting that offence. When giving Reiki to a child, it is advisable to secure the signature of the parent or guardian to the following statement. “I have been advised by (Reiki Practitioner’s name) that according to Law I must consult a doctor concerning the health of my child (child’s name).” This statement should be signed and dated by both parent/guardian and a witness and kept with the client records.
  2. It is an offence to offer treatment or prescribe a remedy or advice for cancer. (please note – this does not mean that you cannot give Reiki to someone with cancer, you just cannot claim to specifically treat cancer)
  3. Any advertising should comply with the British Code of Advertising Practice and meet the requirements of the Advertising Standards Agency. Adverts should be dignified and should not claim a cure or mention any disease.
  4. Reiki Practitioners must not attend women in childbirth or give them Reiki for ten days thereafter unless they hold an appropriate qualification in midwifery. The giving of Reiki with the permission of the Client and the Midwife is acceptable.
  5. The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the United Kingdom and has statutory responsibilities under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 ('the Act'). Section 19 of the Act creates a criminal offence for non-veterinary surgeons to practise veterinary surgery. Section 27 of the Act defines 'veterinary surgery' as meaning the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine and includes -
    1. (a) the diagnosis of diseases in, and injuries to, animals including tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes;
    2. (b) the giving of advice based on such diagnosis;
    3. (c) the medical or surgical treatment of animals; and
    4. (d) the performance of surgical operations on animals.

There are certain exemptions in the Act to this restriction for non-veterinary surgeons, some of which are listed in Schedule 3 to the Act and others are contained in Exemption Orders. However, the restrictions and exemptions in the Act will only be relevant where a person is practicing ‘veterinary surgery’ as defined in the Act. However performing reiki on an animal is unlikely to fall within this definition and is therefore restricted to veterinary surgeons.

Information in relation to the treatment of animals by non-veterinary surgeons can be found in the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct (‘the Guide’), particularly the relevant paragraphs 15 and 16 in Part 2F. The Guide identifies the key responsibilities of veterinary surgeons to their patients, clients, the public and professional colleagues, as well as their responsibilities under the law. It is not a detailed rulebook, but rather it sets out fundamental principles which may be applied to all areas of veterinary practice.

Reiki as understood by the RCVS is healing by the laying on of hands and not generally regarded as the practice of veterinary surgery as defined by the Act and restricted to veterinary surgeons, provided there is no element of diagnosis. On this basis, there may otherwise be no formal jurisdiction to insist upon the involvement of a veterinary surgeon before the laying on of hands is given, although any person who provided healing to an animal that had not first been seen by a veterinary surgeon runs the risk that their actions would be considered to involve diagnosis and be a breach of the Act and criminal offence.

This is because often owners will be bringing an animal to a healer because there is something wrong. Leaving the determination whether an animal is sick or injured to a healer calls for diagnosis in breach of the Act. Where an owner asks a faith healer to maintain an animal’s good health, by ensuring that the animal has first been seen by a veterinary surgeon who is content for healing to be given by the laying on of hands, the risk that the healer’s actions may constitute diagnosis is removed and any matter requiring treatment by a veterinary surgeon can be resolved. It may also successfully fulfil any obligations an owner has to obtain appropriate care for their animal under the Animal Welfare Act.

Therefore the RCVS considers that any healers should ensure that animals have been seen by a veterinary surgeon who is content for healing to be given by the laying on of hands.

Members should also familiarise themselves with the 2006 Animal Welfare Act and give due consideration to its content.


Doctors in England and Wales have a statutory duty to notify a 'Proper Officer' of the Local Authority of suspected cases of certain infectious diseases.

Reiki Practitioners should be aware of the following diseases notifiable (to Local Authority Proper Officers) under the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010:

Acute encephalitis, Acute meningitis, Acute poliomyelitis, Acute infectious hepatitis, Anthrax, Botulism, Brucellosis, Cholera, Diphtheria, Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever), Food poisoning, Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), Infectious bloody diarrhoea, Invasive group A streptococcal disease and scarlet fever, Legionnaires’ Disease, Leprosy, Malaria, Measles, Meningococcal septicaemia, Mumps, Plague, Rabies, Rubella, SARS, Smallpox, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, Typhus, Viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF), Whooping cough, Yellow fever. It is no longer a requirement to notify the following diseases: dysentery, ophthalmia neonatorum, leptospirosis, and relapsing fever.

Reiki Practitioners are advised to be aware of and co-operate with local by-laws and all relevant Health and Safety legislation.

Ignorance of the law is no defence.