Though I’m technically a “Reiki Master” and have been fully trained and certified for many years, I never refer to myself as such. Why is this? Well, there are several problems with the term “Reiki Master.” Let’s explore several of them here, plus easy alternatives for terminology.
The term “Reiki Master” refers to someone who has completed training and attunement for Reiki I, Reiki II, and Reiki III (Master Level) of a certain type of Reiki, such as Usui or Kundalini. The idea is that once one reaches Master level, they are fully proficient in this relaxing form of gentle touch therapy. At this level, not only can they provide quality Reiki, but they can answer questions such as, “How many Reiki sessions are needed?”
Beyond the Master level is Reiki IV, the “Reiki Master Teacher” level, at which one is skilled enough to train others in everything from the hand placements, to how to set up a business and such aspects as a Reiki intake form. So where does discomfort with the term “Reiki Master” come from?
Reiki Master Terminology Concerns
Now, there are several concerns many people, myself included, have with using the term “Reiki Master.” Let’s explore two of these.
1. What is “Mastery?”
The term “master” signifies total understanding of, and proficiency with, a realm. However, is it even possibly to achieve “mastery” in Reiki — let alone anything? As one of the 5 Reiki Principles states, “Just for today, I will do my work honestly…” and I believe it’s most honest to humbly acknowledge that we are always learning and growing as energy workers; “mastery” is a journey, not a point to reach.
Now, in addition to being a Reiki practitioner, I am also a middle school English teacher, and I can tell you that even a veteran teacher of 50 years will tell you that no one ever achieves mastery in teaching. After two decades in the classroom, myself, I would still never call myself a “Master Teacher of English.” Experienced? Yes. “Master?” No.
Similarly, I’m trained and skilled in Reiki, and have had great results with many clients, but I hesitate to call myself a “Reiki Master.” Reiki is about channelling Universal Energy, and it feels too hubristic to purport to ever master that!
2. The term “Master” is being used less in general.
In many realms of society, the term “Master” is being phased out of common use, due to its terrible connections with slavery. For example, in my districts public schools, principles are no longer being called “Headmasters,” but rather “Heads of School.”
Similarly, at Harvard University, “House Masters” are now called “Faculty Deans.” Given this, it does seem appropriate to also explore alternatives to the term “Reiki Master.” Now, what other terms exist to use instead?
Alternatives to the Term “Reiki Master”
If we’re not using the term “Reiki Master,” which term fits best as an alternative to call someone who is fully trained and certified in at least the first three levels of Reiki? Here are some other options.
A. Reiki Practitioner
I generally call myself a “Reiki Practitioner” (as in my article, “Reiki Practitioner Cleansing Tips”), even though that term also covers those who’ve only completed Reiki I and II. I like the term “Practitioner” because it emphasizes that Reiki is an ongoing practice in which one is always learning, growing, and developing through hands-on work.
B. Reiki Energy Worker
My second choice for terminology would be “Reiki Energy Worker” because this highlights how Reiki works with helping energy flow, in order to promote relaxation and wellbeing. Because I’m entranced by chakra energy (as with my article “Yellow Aura Meaning“), this title does have its allure.
The term “Energy Worker” can get a little confusing for people, however, if their mind goes to the electrical power grid in a utility box instead of chakra balancing energy! (Curious how to pronounce chakra? Click that link.)
C. Reiki Therapist
Some people use the term “Reiki Therapist” because it plays upon “Massage Therapist” or even talk therapists who help clients feel better though touch and talk, respectively. My concern with this term, however, is that people might therefore assume that a “Reiki Therapist” might also offer deep tissue massage, or trained counseling, which many do not.
This becomes even more of a risk when using the term “Reiki Massage Therapist” if one doesn’t actually offer massages. Though people do refer to “Reiki massage,” Reiki is simply gentle hand placements (or floating the hands above a person’s body), so this can be a highly confusing term to use, and lead to clients making requests that the practitioner cannot fulfill.
D. Reiki Healer
I’ve seen the term “Reiki Healer” used relatively frequently, and have mixed feelings about it. “Healing” is a broad term which I worry can create false expectations. For example, YES, Reiki is real and it can help soothe and thus heal stress, but can it magically heal a bone that’s been broken in eight places? That’s not what this is about.
I hope these reflections on the term “Reiki Master” have been helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience on the topic in the comments section, below. Do share!
Want more? Check out, “Tired But Can’t Sleep? Reiki Might Help!”
The creator of this site, Lillie Marshall, is a Reiki practitioner who is certified in three different kind of energy work, including Usui and Kundalini Reiki. She began her formal training in 2018, and now runs Healing Touch “L” Reiki in Boston, where she has become one of the top-rated practitioners in Massachusetts, conducting hundreds of sessions with clients. Having been a public school teacher for many years, Lillie is passionate about writing articles to educate people far and wide about the wonderful, natural benefits of Reiki for wellbeing and balance. Find her on social media at @HealingTouchL.