Ethical and Legal Considerations for Shamanic Healers

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies is dedicated to the preservation, study, and teaching of shamanic knowledge for the welfare of the Planet and its inhabitants. In its training programs and work, the Foundation teaches and promotes only the positive, life-enhancing, and healing uses of shamanic knowledge. New workshop offering: Shamanism Practicum: Guidelines for a Healthy Shamanic Practice.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Shamanic healers and practitioners of shamanic divination, please consider carefully what constitutes the ethical practice of shamanism. While the Foundation does not endorse or promote a specific set of rules, the following writings may help you to form your own guidelines as you study and practice shamanism, shamanic healing, and divination:

LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS1

In the US, many state and local governments have legal requirements for the practice of complementary and alternative (CAM) disciplines. Some states require unlicensed practitioners to register with a local or state authority in order to be exempt from prosecution for practicing medicine without a license.2 In addition, there may be other legal requirements outside of CAM that potentially apply to shamanic healing and shamanic divination.3

Each shamanic healer/practitioner is responsible for knowing and meeting any legal requirements in his or her state or locality.4

In recent years, in the area of CAM practices, many public organizations at the state and national level have been established to promote legislation ensuring the individual’s right to access CAM practices. The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC) is one such organization whose mission is: “To promote access to all health care information, services, treatments and products that the people deem beneficial for their own health and survival; to promote an understanding of the laws and factors impacting the right to access; and to promote the health of the people of this nation.” Under the auspices of the NHFC, many state organizations have been created to promote health freedom legislation.

While details vary, such legislation commonly requires CAM practitioners to provide clients with, at minimum: a clear statement of the nature of their practice and their training and experience; a declaration that their services are not licensed by the state nor are they licensed physicians; they cannot perform medical procedures, such as x-rays, surgery, prescribe medications or advise stopping medications. The client signs this "disclosure" (sometimes referred to as a "consent form" or "client bill of rights") and the practitioner keeps a copy on file.

If your state has a health freedom coalition, that is a good place to start to find help on meeting the specific requirements for practicing shamanic healing in your state; most have templates available for required disclosure/consent forms. Note that anything listed on this or other linked sites should be independently verified by doing an internet search of the legislation of the state in question. You can enter search terms such as: name of state, legislation, complementary and alternative medicine, unlicensed, and so forth. E.g., Ohio legislation complementary alternative medicine unlicensed.

For example, in California specific legislation (SB 577 - Bus. & Prof. Code 2053.5, 2053.6) has been enacted, which recognizes the professional legitimacy of alternative and complementary health care practitioners and healers, allowing them to be able to legally provide and advertise their services in California. The sponsors of the legislation, California Health Freedom Coalition, provide detailed information as well as a template for a Disclosure Form that CAM practitioners can modify to meet the California requirements. Visit the website for details and a “Compliance Package” you can download.

The following list of websites will help give you a starting place for finding and understanding legal requirements for practicing shamanism, shamanic healing or divination in your state or locality.


1. Disclaimer. The contents of this page are provided for information purposes only as a service to those seeking and practicing shamanic healing or divination. It is not legal advice or counsel. The information contained in this website is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. The Foundation makes no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information herein and does not endorse or sponsor any linked websites or their content. The Foundation does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice), which is provided on this website or any linked sites or incorporated into it by reference. The information is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. If you require advice in relation to any legal matter you should consult an appropriately qualified lawyer.

2. Credentialing. Credentialing CAM Providers: Understanding CAM Education, Training, Regulation, and Licensing.

3. Divination Practice. There are laws in some states, counties, and cities related to "fortune-telling." These laws may apply to clairvoyance (psychic readings), astrology, divination by the tarot, runes, tea leaves, palm-reading, and other forms of such practices, including shamanic divination. To find any laws or regulations in your area, do an internet search. For example, search: fortune telling laws (name of your city/county/state).

4. Licensed Providers. Shamanic practitioners who are also psychologists, marriage or family therapists, physicians, naturopaths, massage therapists or other licensed providers should be aware of the scope of practices within these fields and practice accordingly. There may be additional ethical and legal considerations that apply and each practitioner is responsible for knowing and meeting any legal requirements in his or her state or locality. Recently there has been legislation passed in a few states protecting patient access to alternative therapies from licensed physicians. Be sure to check with your profession's licensing board for all legal and ethical requirements.