The topic of online training has been a major issue over the past few years as we shift more and more of our lives online. This focus increased significantly over the past year and a half as we have coped with the various restrictions and lockdowns due to the Covid pandemic. We have received a number of questions and inquires and not surprisingly, it was the main issue people wanted to discuss at our last AGM meeting held on May 29, 2021.
Online training is not a new topic for us to look at. A lot of work was done around this issue back in 2015. After significant consultations and discussions, the membership voted unanimously to not allow online training. This was subsequently added to our bylaws governing how we operate.
A lot has changed over the years since the membership voted on this topic and it would appear that people’s views on this issue are starting to shift. It is for this reason we sent out an online survey in late 2020. We sensed that opinions were changing and we wanted to get a feel for where people stood on this issue. Approximately 32% of the membership at the time responded to the survey and it would appear that the membership is now somewhat divided on this topic with a significant number of people still undecided.
The Board of Directors spent a lot of time reviewing the outcome of this survey, discussing online training in general, not to mention the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on our members. There was a lot of concern around whether people’s opinions have naturally shifted as we become more comfortable moving our lives online or rather as a response to the pandemic restrictions. Certainly, many of the comments we have heard suggested that we allow online training for now to get people through the pandemic and then stop it once the restrictions are lifted.
It is important to remember, the CRA is a federal, not for profit association with bylaws that were put into place outlining how the Association is run. These bylaws were voted on by the membership and changes to the bylaws can only be made at the Annual General Meeting. This means that the CRA is not able to shift how it is run simply because we are facing restrictions. We cannot change our rules temporarily as a result of the situation we find ourselves in. One person does not own the CRA whereby he/she can easily develop and implement new methods and/or styles into their business model at the drop of a hat in order to maintain their bottom line. We all own the CRA and our mandate is clear: to provide a place for our members to come together and form a national voice dedicated to the best Reiki practices in Canada. This begs the question, is online training best practice?
So what factors need to be looked at when considering online training?
Not all online classes are created equal. You would be surprised about what is being offered out in the community. Just because you plan to offer a well thought out online program, it does not mean everyone else has the same plan. We are seeing people (who have learned online) come to the CRA requesting membership with a TWO HOUR level one class. Even worse, they have completed all 3 levels of Reiki in only 8 hours. Some classes are only charging $15 for each level.
- If you support online training, Students are going to shop around. How is your business model going to compete with $15.00 classes?
- How is the CRA supposed to filter out the good classes from the bad?
- What criteria will decide who gets in and who doesn’t?
- How is the CRA going to maintain its high standards within the community if we accept members who have not learned the proper information and techniques?
- What will the new membership criteria be?
- What about the new Teaching Guidelines?
- Who is going to do the work developing these plans?
- How can a potential student, turning to the CRA for a reputable Teacher, know if their Teacher actually knows what they are doing or not and whether they are learning the correct things if we lower our standards?
- How are we going to build acceptance with government officials and insurance companies if the training standards are lowered?
- For arguments sake, let’s say we develop an online teaching criteria. With our current practices, we have Student Members and Registered Practitioners who are Master Teachers and they are teaching despite the fact that their class outlines have not been approved. How will this type of situation be handled with the online teaching guidelines and criteria?
Traditionally, Reiki is a verbal modality passed down from Teacher to Student. When asked a question about distance training, Mrs. Takata responded:
The one thing our membership did agree on in the survey: Reiki attunements need to be conducted in person and not done online.
Something gets lost when a Teacher tries to teach online. Students do not know what they do not know until they know better. We have heard several times from Students who first learned online and then have taken the class over again in person. The in person classes were much better and more meaningful. This of course raises more questions:
- What happens to the community’s overall view and acceptance of Reiki when poorly trained people are out there practising when they don’t know what they are doing?
- What happens when a poorly trained Teacher goes on to teach others? How does this lift the practice of Reiki up?
- What happens to the lineage? Does it continue despite a major paradigm shift or does it start over?
- What will be put into place to ensure that the Student actually completes the online content?
- What happens if the Student takes the online content but does not come in person for the attunements?
- How will the Teacher be able to monitor the tell tail signs that a Student is not doing well and step in to help the Student if need be?
- How will the Teacher be able to provide private instruction/guidance in the moment during an online group session?
- What happens if the Student has a Healing Crisis and they are on their own? Will they know what is happening to them in order to talk to the teacher about it?
- What happens if a situation develops, it goes unnoticed by the teacher and harm happens to the Student or people around him/her as a result?
- What liability issues occur if a Student gets certification from a Teacher but does not have the proper training and then gets into trouble?
- What are the legal ramifications to the Teacher and/or the CRA?
- What happens to the CRA if we are drawn into a lawsuit?
- How will this potential increased liability affect our group insurance policy? Will premiums go up?
Another factor to take into consideration when considering the issue of online training centers around the issue of Licensing Letters. Several years ago, the CRA went through a lengthy process with the City of Toronto to be on the approved Association and Schools Accredited List. An in-depth report was issued and changes were made in order to meet the criteria set out by the Greater Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards office. Other municipalities, in an effort to save time, money and legal hassles, have simply followed in Toronto’s footsteps. Should online training be accepted into the CRA bylaws, this whole process would need to be revisited. If their main concern is preventing “Adult Entertainers” from obtaining a business license, there is a strong possibility that the CRA would be removed from the Accredited List if obtaining Reiki certification is as simple as taking an online course. This means that the CRA would not be allowed to issue Licensing Letters to our members so that they can obtain a business license.
Regardless of how the membership votes on this issue, the membership numbers are going to be affected. People who think online should be allowed will leave the Association because we are no longer in alignment with their values. If online is voted in, other people will leave for the same reason. Nevertheless, membership growth will have an added negative impact following a switch to online training. Currently, a significant part of the CRA growth comes from our Registered Teachers talking about the CRA in their classes. If we allow our members to conduct online classes, those classes would not be provided solely to Canadian residents. So, it is possible that the Teacher could potentially skip the CRA information altogether, thus limiting the word of mouth aspect that contributes to our growth. As it stands right now, these online students would not be allowed to join the CRA as our bylaws do not allow us to accept students who are trained online. Thus, this is yet another area of the bylaws that would need to be addressed. Additionally, our bylaws do not allow us to accept anyone who does not reside in Canada, so even if the CRA is mentioned, we would not be able to accept these students from other countries and the clerical workload of responding to out of country inquires would increase.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Before the membership can even think about voting on this issue, a lot of work would need to be done to develop a plan around what online training would look like. People cannot vote on something unless they understand exactly what it is they are voting on. Developing this plan would require countless hours of thought, discussion, legal consultations, and rewriting the bylaws, forms, policies and procedures and reworking the member management system and the website. It would affect almost every level of functioning within the CRA: criteria for membership, application forms, the mandatory forms that need to be signed, Teacher Guidelines, protocols for handling who is accepted and who is not, as well as changing the bylaws themselves. It would be a lengthy and expensive process to meet everyone’s needs on this subject just to be able to bring this issue before the membership for a vote. It is likely that membership fees would need to increase significantly in order to cover these costs.
As previously mentioned, this issue can only be voted on during an Annual General Meeting. The work would need to be completed a few months prior to the meeting in order to allow members an opportunity to review the material, ask questions and make a decision. At the meeting, the membership would need to vote on each new bylaw. If the membership voted against the bylaw changes, all of the time, energy and expense would be for nothing. But what happens if some of the bylaws are passed and others are not? How would the CRA be able to function with only half a plan in place?
If a bylaw is not passed, it would need to be reworked (at further expense) and then revised the following year for the membership to vote on once again.
Clearly, the issue of online training is not simple. It requires an awful lot of careful thought and consideration. It also requires a team of people who feel passionately about this issue who are willing to put the time and effort into discussing all of these factors, and probably more, to develop a plan to present to the membership. I can safely say that the current Board of Directors does not support the idea of online training and would not be willing to take on this workload at this time.
Each member will need to weigh these issues out for themselves. Is this something you feel strongly about? Are you prepared for the impact online training will have on you personally regardless of whether you are a Teacher or not? Do you truly feel that online training is the way forward? If so, are you prepared to put the time, energy and effort in to coming up with a plan to present to the membership?
There really is so much to consider.
Thank you for taking the time to truly look at this matter from all angles before you make your own decision on this important issue.