Few days back a Reiki practitioner (trained by someone else) asked me if use of Reiki symbols was necessary for self-treatment with Reiki. The question surprised me because the answer is amply covered during Reiki training, if the training is proper and in detail.
Principally, no symbol is taught in Reiki first degree because it is not required. The emphasis is on self-treatment by hands-on methods on a regular basis. In Pakistan, some Reiki teachers do teach Power Symbol at Reiki Level-1 but in this article I would not discuss whether it should be done or not. If some teachers do it, what is their motive behind it, is not the topic of this article. What can be easily seen and understood that while most of the Reiki teachers around the world do not teach any symbol during First Degree, their students still use Reiki for self-treatment and do so successfully and effectively. Since no symbol is taught at this level, question of its use does not arise. The confusion probably exists among those who are taught Power symbol in First Degree without adequate explanation and backup knowledge.
Three Reiki symbols are taught in Second Degree and one in Master Degree. When, where and how to use the symbols is also taught in detail. Every Reiki symbol has a purpose, which must be understood. The use depends on requirement. It is not mandatory for Reiki practitioners to use them in every session and one should not make it a binding on himself or herself. For self-treatment in particular I do not see why the person must always use the symbols. Reiki treatment can be carried out even without symbols but if the practitioner is intuitively drawn to use one, two, all or no symbol at all, it is perfectly fine. So is the case for treatment of others.