CERTIFICATION – what does that REALLY mean?

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People often want to know if they are taking courses that will lead to certification.
And what would happen if they practice reflexology without some sort of ‘certification’.
And why are some certifications different to others in this country?
What official certification does a municipality want to see when looking to get a business license?
These are all valid questions… and more …

certification in BC

Certification has various meanings in the world of health and healing, depending on differing places and in different circumstances… and may even be confused with building (zoning) occupancy permits and municipal business license requirements.

There is an overarching concept in Canada that automatically excludes the government at any level from involvement in health and healing modalities and that is when a modality can be deemed to “do no harm”. Then it is not mandated to go through ANY government scrutiny.
Buyer Beware is, of course, always important.

Professional Registrations, Official Certifications, Title Designations and Provincial Government oversight apply to those healing modalities where the practitioner CAN possibly do harm (examples: Midwives, Massage Therapists, Naturopaths, Chiropractors and to some degree even Aroma Therapists).
All of these practitioners usually have a few well-deserved letters after their names – its official and recognized. These modality designations are provincially regulated via legislation that specifies the rules, the oversight procedures, specific responsibilities and duties for the respective professional associations and institutes that oversee the educational requirements, the credentialing, continuing education and also includes a means of processing public complaints and keeping / staying accountable and current. Titles / certifications of these healing and health-care professionals which CAN do harm are recognized and must be administered under the BC Health Act.
Specific ‘occupational title designations’, such as with Aroma Therapists, a sort of grey area, is granted under the Societies Act of British Columbia (this is for aroma therapists, for example, who have been scrutinized, tested and have fulfilled particular criteria and have assembled themselves under the umbrella of the BC Association Of Aromatherapists – BCAOA).

While it may be possible to get away with any old title and certification in some countries, official governmental designations were very strict in Canada and BC (and a little sloppy at the moment). In Canada’s health world and health jurisdictions, almost all health modalities are controlled or organized under the jurisdiction of the provinces, except for doctors, surgeons and nurses, who are governed by federal oversight.
All other healing modalities – from very mainstream to new and alternative are legislated provincially – but only if they CAN do harm.
Details and by-laws that govern these modalities are specific for each province. An example is the requirement for official designation as a massage therapist – very different between BC and Alberta..

Then there are the many healing modalities that can do NO HARM. 
Sometimes a school, institution or teacher hands out certifications upon completion of courses / workshops. These certifications usually clarify that someone has successfully completed a described program or has acquired a specific skill.
Associations for practitioners of some modalities may also give out certifications – this can be based on a few rules, a modest fee and the honour system – – all the way through to stringent requirements and supervised exams. The range is vast.
This however doesn’t stop groups from trying to impress by saying that anyone not a member of it’s association isn’t certified – and even go so far as to say people should not be practicing unless they belong to their specific club… and although one would think there’s a tinge of ego in this stance, it is also due to a very broad interpretation of the concept of certification, as well as wishful thinking.
When I give my students a certificate, it means job well done and proof of attendance and mastery of that class’s content. Again, that certification could be in reflexology or Reiki – both modalities that ‘can do no harm’. These students can then go on to join associations that will only accept people trained by their own members, setting up a sort of exclusivity.

With Reiki, nutrition and reflexology there seems to be quite a muddle afoot. The words “Reiki” and “reflexology” and the modalities they imply are not protected by any designation in Canada and can be used by anyone. Neither can do any harm. I could not find any court cases where either modality were part of a civil or criminal charge or sentencing. In essence any Reiki or reflexology teacher, school and association can hand out certificates to students who have attained a certain proficiency.
Several Reiki and Reflexology organizations / associations once accepted members on the honour system and are now evolving to be more specific (for a number of reasons) with decent baseline parameters for joining.

Also, look into the letters after peoples names and check out what that means.
RM officially means Registered Midwife (long, serious, in-depth education with exams and government oversight and insurance requirements). RM is an official, provincially accredited, designation.
RP-CRA means a Reiki Practitioner who has joined the Canadian Reiki Association – a $50 membership after a minimum 5 hour course or an on-line version of it. This latter letters-after-one’s-name designation nonsense has absolutely NO official meaning or validity and was made up by an enthusiastic Reiki teacher back in 2001. It was initially added as a way to give some semblance of specialness to Reiki practitioners… energy work was less known then and less respected.
The BC reflexologists saw the Reiki practitioners with lovely letters after their names and were not to be outdone! They added a few letters, too, once they joined one of their trade associations.
Many of us feel that accreditations have evolved as they should. Important health modalities that CAN DO HARM have oversight in place (without the government being too constraining) and the rest of us have associations where we can make things happen as we choose.

alternative healing certification

Separate from the actual expertise required in healing, there is another conundrum that sometimes rears it’s head! Getting an occupancy license from one’s city hall to do one’s work may become an interesting exercise in semantics. In Vancouver, for years, there has been an umbrella designation called Healing Touch – and the processing clerk, who says yeah or nay, wants to see certificates that mean nothing to the presiding clerk, does not and will not understand that Healing Touch is a very distinct modality rather than their notion of a generic bucket containing a vast group of fine modalities as they have convenently defined them.

Toronto had a more interesting problem – as ladies of the night had to find some sort of licensing for their ‘work’ after some new municipal occupancy ‘use’ permit legislation was passed. They rummaged around all the healing modalities to see which would give them fastest and cheapest ‘keys’ to stay in business – they found three modalities and Reiki really won! And more on this for another time… so for a time Toronto actually saw nude Reiki sessions. (You’ve got to give it to bureaucrats to give us something to talk about…)

BUYER BEWARE – check out the teacher you are looking to learn from.
Check out why you may need certification such as a particular employer preference.
I do know that as for Reiki and reflexology, I have never once been asked for my credentials or associations… and I already have enough alphabet soup behind my name (which doesn’t impress anyone…!)
However, I have often been asked how long have I been doing my work. Smart question!

The classes at Pacific Holistic meet and exceed the standards of all Reiki and reflexology associations in North America.


healing classes in Vancouver BC

The main Reiki page: https://pacific-holistic.com/reiki takes you to more Reiki articles; information about our Reiki healing sessions; our Reiki weekend certification classes; what we are offering, including Reiki practitioner exchanges, special discounts, continuing Reiki education, our newsletter and more information such as REIKI gift certificates and what Reiki certification actually REALLY means. 
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Please look through the Reiki article pages here and join me in one or more of the Reiki seminars / classes offered.
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Merrie Bakker, Reiki Master Teacher, flexible hours – Monday – Saturday
604-261-7742, by appointment only
We’re still in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, BC

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