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The Educated Heart by Nina McIntosh

Updated: May 21, 2022

This is a book review for the Educated Heart: Professional Boundaries for Massage Therapists, Bodyworkers, and Movement Teachers, by Nina McIntosh.

Reiki energy healing is a wonderful modality, but traditional classes do not typically teach advanced ethics or professionalism. While the system of Reiki as a means for developing happiness is wonderful, it came from a culture and time where there were some healthy presumptions around how humans would care for one another as community members and friends. When we're doing Reiki on friends and loved ones there are already certain expectations and boundaries set up, and that can create a certain degree of safety. Doing Reiki on strangers, however, requires a slightly different skill set, and that is why I ask all of our Reiki Master students to read The Educated Heart, by Nina McIntosh.

Before we go further, I have to point out that this book may be out of publication, so the used copy that I own and often recommend is a second edition, which can easily be found and purchased for under $10.

There are a ton of great books on ethics and boundaries out there, but the reason I continue to promote the Educated Heart is that it's short, easy to understand, and it has cartoons. Yes, cartoons! In other words, even if you're a creative energy healing person who really doesn't want to sit through a 300 page text, you can likely commit to this 173 page workbook with cartoons, exercises, stories, and examples. I feel it really excels in getting even the most skittish the reader to think about important things, and come to decisions from an empowered place.

Not sold yet? Some of the chapter topics include:

  • client vulnerability

  • transference

  • sexual boundaries

  • sticky situations (what if you fall in love with your client?)

  • financial boundaries

  • multi-layered client relationships

  • professional supervision

If you've ever wondered how to talk about money with clients, or what to do if a client stiffs you and doesn't pay--this book is rife with real examples of the social and ethical challenges a practitioner faces. There simply isn't time to cover all of these topics in a Reiki classes, as we tend to be focused on energy, but a good a book sets the foundation for deeper conversation with teachers and peers.

Again, this is required reading for my Reiki Master Training, and I truly feel that if more practitioners out there read books like this, we'd have a much safer holistic community. Remember, psychologists, doctors, and therapists all study these topics as part of multiple years of training. If we really want our training and accreditation processes to stay flexible as energy healers, then we need to take personal responsibility for reading books like these, and seeking out our own sources to be held accountable to the work we are doing.


DAILEY LITTLE is a healing practitioner, transformational life coach, ordained Priestess, and teacher who founded Healing Heart Reiki to help others navigate life with joy. She offers private sessions, and teaches classes in healing and mindset from a magical peaceful corner of the world in Northern California. For more info see:

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