What is the Bowen Technique?

The Bowen Technique is a gentle, remedial, hands-on therapy that is applied using very gentle pressure. The Bowen Technique treats the whole person not just the symptoms. The practitioner uses thumbs and fingers on precise points of the body to perform Bowen’s unique sets of rolling-type moves which stimulate the muscles and soft tissue of the body.  There is no manipulation or adjustment of hard tissue and no force is applied. During the treatment the practitioner will leave the room for a few minutes at a time and this is to allow your body to respond to the moves that have been made.

It is believed that the Bowen Technique prompts the body to reset, repair and balance itself, providing a simple and effective way to deal with pains, both physical and emotional. Treatment can be performed directly onto the skin with you dressed in your underwear with full towel etiquette (for your warmth and modesty) or through light clothing if you prefer. In this case please arrive wearing something lightweight and non-slippery. A t-shirt and loose trousers or shorts (not jeans) are ideal. If you are wearing bulky or heavy items of clothing such as a thick jumper, you will be asked to remove these before the treatment can begin.

Initial treatments are best scheduled between 5 – 10 days apart with a course of 3 being booked.  Some issues resolve after only one session but others may require regular treatments to maintain the improvement. You do not need to wait until you feel unwell or are in pain to benefit from Bowen Therapy. Many clients find it beneficial to have ‘top-up’ or ‘maintenance’ treatments as this helps the body to function at its best, manage stress and can help prevent new problems from developing. The frequency of these varies per individual, according to their needs, some have a treatment once a month, others every quarter or 6 months.

The history of the Bowen Technique

Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916-1982) was born in Brunswick, Victoria and was the third child and only son to William and Norah Bowen who had emigrated from Wolverhampton to Australia in the early 1900’s.

Tom left school at the age of 14 years old and his first job was that of a milk carter then becoming a general hand at a woollen mill, before following in his father’s footsteps of being a carpenter, working as a general hand at the Geelong Cement works.

Tom was a keen sportsman and member of the Salvation Army. He ran a Salvation Army Boy’s Club training them in a range of sports, including a personal favourite swimming, exercise and gymnastics.

After a day’s work at the cement works he began treating fellow workers for ailments that they were suffering from. As his reputation grew, these clinics would often last well into the night. Friends that he made at the cement works, Stan and Rene Horwood encouraged Tom change career and open his clinic full time from a rented house in Geelong. He continued to develop his technique without any formal training or qualification and frequently stated that his work was ‘a gift from God’.

With little business experience or rules to follow, Tom’s clinics ran on a very informal basis. Patients would call and be told to either attend the morning or afternoon clinic and on arrival would be instructed to take a number and wait.

In 1973 Tom attended the Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Naturopathic Committee and according to evidence stated that he was self-taught and his only form of study was to read the books he found interesting! By 1975, the Webb report of that year (a government report into natural health practices) reported that Tom was treating 13000 patients a year with what we today call Bowen Therapy.

Tom’s skills were not just experienced by people. He also worked with animals including dogs, cats, cows, pigs and horses. Indeed this work has continued and today practitioners are able to train in both Canine and Equine Bowen Therapy.

Tom did not document his methods. Over the years people would spend time watching Tom in his clinic. Today it is regarded that six students were the main ones who ‘studied’ under Tom. These six men, Keith Davis, Kevin Neave, Nigel Love, Oswald Rentsch, Romney Smeeton and Kevin Ryan, became known as ‘Tom’s boys’and are responsible for Bowen as it is today.

Tom continued to work until his death in 1982.

I expect to pass through this world but once,
Any good thing therefore that I do,
Or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature,
Let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it,
For I shall not pass this way again.

This was Tom’s philosophy during his life.

So what conditions may Bowen help with?

to name just a few…….


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