Nowadays there are many types of bodywork and massage that purport to reduce pain and inflammation, realign the body and improve posture. In my 20+ years of experience as a massage therapist, however, I have not experienced anything that comes close to the results and effectiveness achieved with Bowen Therapy.
I first heard about Bowen Therapy from an article in a massage publication about 10 years ago that piqued my interest. After doing an online search I found a nearby school that taught the technique and decided that before plunking down over $1,000 for the course fee, I should try receiving a treatment. I booked an appointment and went in knowing that this would not be like the massages or other therapies I had received in the past. I came out of that session relaxed, but not impressed… Until the next day! I woke up feeling better than I had in years. Everything seemed to work better: my vision, memory, concentration, energy, everything tasted and smelled better, it was amazing!
Needless to day, I immediately signed up for the course and couldn’t wait to start practicing this newly acquired miraculous skill on my clients and the whole world!
What is Bowen Therapy?
This form of bodywork was named after Tom Bowen, an Australian self-taught bodyworker who practiced in Geelong, Australia for many years and was achieving miraculous results on his patients with very little manipulations. Unfortunately, Tom Bowen never officially taught anyone what he was doing, but allowed a few people to observe his work on patients, and what is now taught as “Bowen Therapy” are various interpretations of what he did by those who observed him.
The basis of Bowen Therapy is “the Bowen Move” which consists of gentle rolling or plucking moves over muscles or muscle groups, followed by a 2 to 3 minute waiting period. In fact, there is very little done on the part of the practitioner, other than sending a gentle signal to the body. The body then takes over and makes the necessary adjustments, resulting in a relaxing of the muscle tissues and a realigning of the body. By relaxing and realigning the body, particularly along the spine, nerve, blood and lymphatic circulation is re-established and the body is able to self-heal. The 2-3 minute waiting period after the moves allows the body to respond without being confused by additional stimuli. In most schools of Bowen, the therapist is instructed to leave the room during the break in order to allow the patient to be able to concentrate on their body and not get distracted.
After practicing massage therapy for over 20 years, sometimes with great results, but often feeling like I was barely able to make a dent on some of my clients knotted up muscles, and wearing myself out in the process, this new technique came as a godsend. I could see myself working for many more years and helping lots of clients find pain relief and well-being without worrying about how I was going to be able to continue to do this physically.
Unfortunately, Bowen Therapy is not well known in this country, and with clients used to the traditional 1 hour hands-on session, it is hard to change people’s attitudes and expectations. With Bowen Therapy, a few judiciously placed moves is all that is needed and this can be accomplished in 5-10 minutes. The body then takes over and will resolve most issues by itself over the next 1-3 days. Clients who are used to paying by the hour have a hard time justifying the fee charged for a session because they still equate time with value, not results. I guess a Bowen session should be thought as like a Chiropractic session, where the chiropractor basically charges for the adjustments, not how much time he or she spends with the patient.
In order to deal with that attitude, I have resorted to sneaking Bowen moves in all of my massage sessions. My clients noticed something different, but because I wasn’t leaving them for two minutes between the moves, but just continued massaging, they did not object and actually were surprised at how much better they felt with less painful manipulations, especially in certain sensitive areas such as the neck, lateral thighs and other areas.
I have recently discovered and taken an online course called “Integrated Bowen Therapy” . This course teaches a full-body Body Balancing session using Bowen moves without the waiting periods. By moving to another body area and working different muscle groups while the previous moves are being “absorbed”, the therapist is able to be hands-on for the entire duration of the session (usually about 25-40 minutes) and the recipient has the satisfaction of getting “their money’s worth” because they are not left alone during the waiting periods. This way of practicing Bowen Therapy really appeals to me as I had always felt funny about leaving the room in between sets of moves. Now the client can experience a full-body Bowen session, feel great, and everyone comes out a winner.
Of course, the principal beneficiary of my Bowen training has been myself, as I have been able to eliminate all sorts of aches and pains on my own body almost instantly over the years by applying the Bowen moves on myself!