The Bowen Technique is a gentle therapy applied to areas of the body using thumbs and fingers in a specific process or order.
The move is a rolling-type move of the thumbs and forefingers and is designed to stimulate nerve pathways which allow a ‘conversation’ to take place between different nervous systems of the body. Between each set of moves, the therapist leaves the room to allow the communication process to take place. These breaks increase the effectiveness of each subsequent set of moves.
The move does not slide or flick over the surface of the skin but uses the slack in the overlying skin to move over the underlying tissue, so each move covers a small area, defined by how far an individual’s skin can move over a targeted area.
But where did this technique all begin?
Who was Tom Bowen?
Born in 1916, Tom Bowen was the youngest child of William and Norah Bowen, who moved from Wolverhampton in the UK to Australia in 1910.
After serving in World War II, Tom Bowen became interested in finding out ways to relieve pain in the human body. He noticed that when he made certain movements on the body it responded in a positive way.
Tom Bowen spent years refining and developing the effectiveness of his newfound treatment through observation without any formal training from any medical field. Mr Bowen felt strongly that his treatment was a “gift from god”.
In 1957 Tom was working full time at a cement works and practicing his treatment by night. He would often work into the early hours, usually treating clients for free. Mr Bowen would often travel and make house calls to treat sick children and elderly people who could not travel to him.
Tom Bowen worked for many years in his evenings for free before he started accepting donations for his treatment.
As the popularity of the treatment grew, Tom Bowen was able to set up a full-time clinic in a retired medical practice.
It was not uncommon for Tom to treat 60-100 people per day at the clinic, always maintaining that children would receive free treatment.
During Tom’s career his care for children and attempts to improve the quality of life for people suffering from disabilities were always his number one priority.
How did the Bowen Technique grow?
As more people found out about the Bowen Technique, many people wanted to learn from Tom directly.
Tom officially recognised six men to have an active understanding of his work and enough knowledge to pass it on. Tom affectionally referred to these practitioners as his “boys”.
Keith Davis, Kevin Neave, Nigel Love, Oswald Rentsch, Romney Smeeton and Kevin Ryan would continue the growth of the Bowen Technique long after Tom Bowen passed away in 1982.
The College of Bowen Studies
In 1993, Julian Baker brought the Bowen Technique from Australia, and with the help of Isy Gabriel (Saunders) they set up the first Bowen training sessions in the UK.
Initially the training sessions were not universally popular, but after an article in the Daily Mail in 1994, Bowen was spectacularly launched on to the British psyche and the phenomenon that was Bowen in the UK was born.
Since then thousands of people have discovered the power of Bowen and have had their lives transformed by treatment and training.
The Bowen Technique’s understanding of what we do with a light touch and why breaks are so important have grown, and the nature of the connective tissue known as fascia has become much more widely understood.
Julian Baker has been constantly at the forefront of this understanding and, in addition to being principal of the college, has been teaching human dissection classes to manual therapists around the world, in an effort to create a more integrated understanding of the body.
The College has undergone many changes over the years, but the underlying belief that Bowen is a powerful and transformational tool, easy to learn, and simple to apply has been at the core of its being.
For more information, or if you are interested in taking one of the courses with The College of Bowen Studies, please contact our instructors for details.