Avoiding Jail For Energy Healers

by Mike Sententia on April 25, 2011

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Legal questions are my main excuse for delaying my healing business. Do I need some kind of license to touch clients? And how can I advertise my healing and consciousness integration without triggering licensing problems?

Eliminating excuses is key to achieving your goals. So today, I’m answering those questions.

I found Justia, a site covering US laws, with a section for New Mexico Professional and Occupational Licenses.

Here’s the quick version: Avoid any names owned by professions (“Nurse,” “Psychologist,” etc), tell people you’re not a doctor, and you’re fine. If you want the details, keep reading.

I also learned the value of disclaimers, so here’s mine: I’m not a lawyer. I’m researching this for my own business, and sharing it because it might help you. This isn’t a substitute for talking to a lawyer.

Don’t Use “Nurse,” “Therapist,” Etc

The licensing for nurses basically says “Unless you’re licensed, you can’t call yourself a nurse, RN, etc.” Sounds fair.

For psychology, there’s a broad “practice of psychology” that seems to include any form of helping people do anything, but there’s an exemption under “Scope” that says “Nothing in the Professional Psychologist Act shall be construed to prevent an alternative, metaphysical or holistic practitioner from engaging in nonclinical activities consistent with the standards and codes of ethics of that practice.”

For “Counseling and Therapy,” I learned to avoid the words “mental health” and “therapist.” It also has a holistic practitioner exemption.

Massage therapy has an exemption for “practitioners of healing modalities … who do not manipulate the soft tissues for therapeutic purposes from practicing those skills.”

These laws seem pretty friendly to holistic healers. Just don’t use any established professional titles.

“Not a Doctor” Disclaimer

I don’t intend to practice medicine, and I don’t want anyone to forgo seeing a doctor because of me. Modern medicine works, and if a doctor can cure what ails you, let him do it.

But how do I legally tell people the ways I can help them? Can I say I “heal”? What words must I avoid?

Here’s what I found under the “medicine and surgery” section:

  • You can’t “diagnose, correct or treat” basically anything.
  • You can’t do anything with drugs.

My read is that, if you say you’re an “energy healer” or something similar, and never talk about curing or treating, you’re fine. I’ll also include a disclaimer that I’m not a doctor, I don’t diagnose, correct or treat anything, and I’m not a substitute for medical care.

Become a Minister

A local RN who practices healing touch suggested becoming a minister as a way to legally touch clients in some states. (She doesn’t particularly know New Mexico laws, though).

This seems like a good idea. Under exemptions for medical and surgical practice, it says that the medical practice limitations don’t apply to:

“The practice of the religious tenets of a church in the ministration to the sick or suffering by mental or spiritual means as provided by law; provided that the Medical Practice Act shall not be construed to exempt a person from the operation or enforcement of the sanitary and quarantine laws of the state;”

I don’t know how much protection being a minister really gives you. But since the Universal Life Church will ordain you for free online, it seems worthwhile to become a minister.

Update: Registering took 2 minutes. I emailed them to ask if there are any extra steps, like registering with the state. They said no, nothing extra to do unless you want to perform weddings. So zero cost, super easy. (For weddings, you need to order a certificate for around $10).

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kol Drake April 27, 2011 at 6:35 PM

Might even have to step away from energy “healer” to energy practitioner or energy worker or some such to keep from walking the fine line that ‘healer’ implies healing which someone at sometime will claim means you should have been able to make the go away like a medical person does.

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Christy June 7, 2017 at 7:44 AM

Excellent suggestion; I agree.

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Kol Drake April 27, 2011 at 6:38 PM

As for marrying… you have to go downtown to your local ‘town hall’ and pays a fee and sign a sheet and get the ‘official’ forms the married couple have to sign …. but, seems like just about anyone can ‘marry’ someone…. it’s the whole, married under the eyes of that makes the diffference in being ‘ordained’… versus jumping a broom with a Wiccan ceremony or hand fasting under a willow at the full moon kind of thing.

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Mike Sententia April 28, 2011 at 8:50 PM

How’s everything going Kol? Good to hear from you. I thought about “healer” vs practitioner or something else. Still not sure. Thanks for pointing it out!

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Dr. Melinda Connor September 3, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Mike,
You should check out two web sites that deal specifically with the legal aspects of energy healing. New Mexico is one of only a hand full of states that have a specific CAM practitioner piece of legislation.
http://www.midgemurphy.com – Midge specializes in risk managment for energy practitioners.
http://www.camlawblog.com – Michael specializes in cam law and writes on energy practitioner issues.
In addition, my book Professional Practice for the Energy Healing Practitioner suggests an ethical code and standards of practice for practitioners to use.
Thanks,
Melinda

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Mike Sententia September 4, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Thanks for the resources. I’m based out of San Francisco, CA at this point — got any tips on Cali laws?

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Fajian August 28, 2013 at 9:14 AM

I don’t think there is any law of “license to touch”. It may be one of those myth that spreads easily (because it sounds good). At least my research shows no legal base for any such supposed law.

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Mike Sententia August 28, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Cool. Thanks for writing. I’m no longer in this field, but I’ll look into it more if I pick it up again.

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