About Bowen Therapy

Who, What, When, How of Bowen Therapy

Bowen Therapy Head-to-Toe

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What is Bowen Therapy?
    Bowen Therapy is a form of bodywork just as, chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, massage, physiotherapy, etc. It utilizes a system of ‘hands on’ moves made on muscles, tendons, nerves and most importantly, the fascia. These moves are followed by pauses of time to allow the body to fully respond, this is the ‘hands off’ part for the treatment. There’s a positive relaxation to the tension patterns that are held or are stuck in the various structures of the body from diseases, traumas, injuries and stresses. The pauses are important as they allow the body the time to more fully reset these reactive patterns enabling the body to heal rather than guard and protect itself. What makes Bowen Therapy unique is not the way it is done but it’s pure efficiency of action. Perhaps, the reason why it is so fast acting in treatment of pain, inflammation and misalignment is the adherence to the principle of allowing the body’s own vitality to act freely and heal more effectively.
What Does a Bowen Treatment Entail?
    During a Bowen Therapy treatment session the client lies comfortably as they are able on a treatment table, or they can be in a sitting position if unable to lie. The therapist applies Bowen Therapy movements, gentle challenges and releases of the challenged areas, focussing on a specific part of a muscle, tendon or fascia and the Bowen Therapy movement is a sort of message of relaxation through the nerves and fascia within the area worked on. The treatment is comfortable to receive and also deeply relaxing.
    The Bowen Therapy movements result in a systemic effect not only on the areas being worked on but on the entire structural level including posture and alignment and an effect on functional systems such as the digestion, respiration and cardiovascular, enhancing the individual’s overall well-being. Addressing the body as a whole, Bowen Therapy treats beyond the presented symptoms and positively affects the physical, chemical, emotional and mental aspects of each person during the treatment and most importantly, for many days after.
    The effects on the body lasts for many days and in most cases a follow up treatment is recommended to reinforce or further aid the process of changes occurring following the sessions. Both the patient and therapist will be able to identify the progress following the treatment and it is the actual changes to the presenting symptoms that guides the future treatment and not a standard treatment plan.
What's the History of Bowen Therapy?
    Bowen Therapy was developed in Australia by the late Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916-1982). He viewed his work the gift of a higher power and his system of therapies have remarkably remained consistent throughout the world and forms the mainstay of most schools and competing name brands that court their work as a form of Bowen Therapy. The remarkable story of Tom Bowen is laid out in this illuminating biography, https://www.bowen-academy.com/method/tom_bowen/
Sounds Too Good To Be True!
    Bowen Therapy has often been distinguished from other forms of bodywork treatments as being something different and somehow better, something unique and somehow special – It isn’t new or special; it is simply an incredibly efficient form of bodywork therapy that positively stimulates the body to heal quickly. This may seem like a large statement of claim about such a relatively new and, as yet, little known therapy. Keep an open mind and simply observe its effectiveness for yourself.
    The effectiveness of any therapy in the treatment of pain, inflammation and misalignment should be ‘black and white’ in its benefit. Most clients will know very quickly whether Bowen Therapy is going to be a successful treatment for their problems regardless of how significant their present diagnosis may seem. The majority of clients seeking treatment at Bowen Therapy Clinics come on average 3 to 5 times.
Can Other Therapies Work With Bowen Therapy?
    Yes and no, there will be times where other treatments could work at the same time as Bowen Therapy is being received and times where it will be a problem to mix other therapies. It can be a problem when too many therapeutic influences are applied as Bowen Therapy doesn’t force healing it stimulates it. So, if too many influences are at play the body usually will shut off responding and turn to a guarded state of protection and inflammation. A logical approach is but where testing the effect of each therapy to clearly discern its benefits will serve the client best. For example, trying 2 to 3 Bowen Therapy sessions alone to simply get a clear sense of what it can do for the problem at hand. The overall idea around the time of having Bowen Therapy is to create a period of time and space where healing takes place. Hot and cold applications or hot tubs can also be therapeutic influences so best to avoid these too. However, anytime you are in need of pain relief in order to function do whatever you know to be effective at the time you need it. Overall, Bowen Therapy is not that fussy and you will know quite clearly its overall benefit for you very soon after the treatments begin.
Can I Exercise After Treatment?
    There are periods in recovering from acute and chronic conditions where rest and recovery are essential an applicable to the healing processes and then comes the time to start moving and exerting in a healthy manner the body so that strength and mobility return to the fullest. It is at that moment where exertion and well chosen exercise need to come part of the recovery.
How Does Bowen Therapy Compare to Other Therapies?
    Bowen Therapy is another form of bodywork that achieves all the same therapeutic benefits of the following methods – what makes it unique is it’s efficiency:
  • Like Massage, Bowen Therapy is relaxing soothes muscle spasm and affects the circulation and lymphatic systems. Its benefit is usually long lasting and clients report needing to have far fewer sessions to reach a sustained improvement.
  • Like Acupuncture, Bowen Therapy stimulates the acupuncture points and meridians and promotes improved functions in the body’s systems like digestion, respiration hormonal and nervous systems. This is achieved without invasive needling or vigorous cupping and massage.
  • Like Chiropractic, Bowen Therapy achieves skeletal adjustments. This is achieved because it is a therapy for the soft tissues such as muscle, tendon and ligament and it is these structures that govern the alignments of joints and vertebrae. The affect is ongoing  after the treatment and is long-lasting because the body has self-adjusted without forceful encouragement.
  • Like Physiotherapy, Bowen Therapy is not a muscular re-education it has the opposite effect of releasing held patterns of dysfunction and inflammation through its stimulus to Golgi tendon organs and spindle cells.
  • Like Emotional Bodywork Therapies, Bowen Therapy stimulates a release of held emotions. This occurs quite naturally as the body responds to the treatment during the session and there is no need for discussion or analysis.
What Can Bowen Therapy Treat?
    The soothing and restorative effects of Bowen Therapy have a wide range of applications. Through practical experience Bowen practitioners have been increasingly expanding the range of conditions that the technique has been found to effectively treat. At this point we can list the following conditions as those that show substantial improvement under the influence of the Bowen Therapy:

What Can Bowen Therapy Treat?

Musculo-skeletal PainRespiratory ProblemsDigestive Disorders
Back Pain (Chronic and Acute)
Frozen Shoulder & Tendonitis pains
Tennis & Golfers Elbow
Carpal Tunnel syndrome
Arthritic pain
Fibromyalgia
Polymyalgia
Neuralgia
Headaches & Migraines
TMJ Syndrome
Scoliosis
Gait disorders
Leg Length discrepancies
Plantar fasciitis
Shin Splints
Foot and ankle problems
Hammer Toes, Heel Spurs
Bunions
Knee and hip restrictions
Pelvic & Sacral Iliac joint misalignment
Sciatica
Asthma
Bronchitis
Hay Fever
Sinusitis
Allergies
Constipation
Infant Colic
Indigestion
G.E.R.D.
Crohn’s Disease
Irritable Bowel syndrome
Gynecological ProblemsOther Conditions
Infertility
Fibroids
Pre Menstrual syndrome
Irregular cycle
Fibrocystic Breasts
Chronic Fatigue syndrome
Vertigo
Tinnitus
Bed-wetting in children
Prostate Problems
Hemorrhoids
Ear infections
    Bowen Therapy is safe to use on anyone – from the newborn to the elderly. As there are no vigorous manipulations employed in the treatment. Yet, despite the gentleness of its application, Bowen Therapy achieves profound, substantial, rapid and lasting relief from a wide spectrum of conditions. Among the benefits it achieves in the process are the reduction of physical, emotional and mental stress, improvement in joint mobility, circulation of lymphatic and venous fluids and assimilation of nutrients and the elimination of toxins. In place of the illness and discomfort experienced with the conditions listed above, Bowen introduces a state of ease and well being.
What Research is Available on Bowen Therapy?
    The world’s First Randomized Controlled Double Blind Research into Bowen Therapy undertaken at Be Well Now Centre in Vancouver! Be Well Now recently facilitated the first ever double blind randomized control study on the effectiveness of Bowen Therapy as a treatment choice of sciatica. This study is in process of peer review and is to be published in mid-2010 and the paper will be posted here thereafter. It is our hope that more scientists will begin to recognize the tremendous potential for Bowen Therapy as a standard of care.
Autonomic Nervous System & The Heart
    This study by Dr. Whitaker, MD has shown that Bowen Therapy affects the Autonomic Nervous System by measuring changes in value and pattern in Heart Rate Variability before and after treatment.
Psychological effects
    Ashley Pritchard at the Swinburn University – Department of Psychophysiology, Melbourne showed that Bowen Therapy consistently reduced subjects’ level of anxiety, and enhanced individuals’ positive feelings by reducing tension, anger, depression, fatigue and confusion. Objective measures of decrease in Heart Rate Variability and muscle tension correlate with subjective feelings of relaxation.
Fibromyalgia
    This study by Dr. Whitaker, MD showed the positive effect of Bowen Therapy on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia; they all experienced various degrees of relief, which lasted from a few days to several weeks. The measurements of shifts in the Autonomic Nervous System by Heart Rate Variability studies fully complemented the clinical assessments.
TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint
    A research project on the application of Bowen Therapy on TMJ abnormality was started in Durango, CO by Dr. John Bauman, DDS. Assessment of masseter tension by Bio Feedback, measurement of bite and subjective symptoms were compared before and after treatments. Immediately after the 1st treatment, 1/3 (one-third) of patients felt dramatic relief in some of their symptoms and 20 out of the 22 patients showed significant improvement on the post Bio Feedback assessment.
Blood chemistry
    Dr. Whitaker, using darkfield phase and fluorescent microscopic live cell analysis, has shown that blood chemistry changes following treatment. These changes corroborate the reports from certain patients experiencing transient flu-like symptoms due to detox reactions.
Frozen shoulder
    Dr. Bernie Carter’s research is well under way at the Metropolitan University of Manchester (UK) with lead Bowen therapist Rick Minnery to follow over a 12-month period. Patients were diagnosed with frozen shoulder and treated by Bowen Therapy to show the research’s effectiveness. Initial data consisted 77% of patients experiencing successful outcome from their treatment.
Upcoming Maternity Research
    Midwife and Bowen therapist Rick Minnery, in 2000 will start a long term study on the effectiveness of Bowen Therapy with maternity patients. Some research topics will be:
  • Pre-natal morning sickness, heartburn, breast discomfort, symphyseal pain, lower back pain during pregnancy.Bowen Therapy as an aid to relaxation and reduction of the experience of pain in labor and the reduction of time of labor.
  • Post-natal problems such as perineal trauma and particularly breast problems (engorgement, lactation, milk or venous engorgement, mastitis, poor or excessive milk production).
Research Papers
  • The Original Bowen Technique: A gentle hands on healing method that effects Autonomic Nervous System as measured by heart rate variability and clinical assessment by Jo Anne Whitaker, Patricia P, Gilliam, Douglas B. Seba
  • The Pschophysiological Effects of  Bowen Therapy by Ashley G. Pritchard
  • The Evaluation of Bowen Technique in the Treatment of Frozen Shoulder by Bernie Carter, Minnery, Clarke
  • Available Research on Bowen Therapy compiled by Anna Dicker
    • Kinnear H. & Baker, J., (2000). ‘Frozen Shoulder Research Programme’, UK. published on the internet only.
    • Biorac M, 2000, The effect of Bowen Therapy on Restless Leg Syndrome, Private research not published.
    • Carter, B., 2002, The effect of using Bowen therapy on the frozen shoulder. Accepted for publication in
    • Complementary Therapies in Medicine vol 9 no 4.
    • Pritchard, A.G, (1993),’ The Psychophysiological Effects of Bowen Therapy Therapy’, Swinburne University, Melbourne. Psychophysiology Major research Project.
    • Rayment, J., 1997, Reclaiming  a sense of wellbeing as a result of receiving Bowen Therapy. (A study of the effects of Bowen Therapy on chronic lower back pain.) Thesis for Master HSc Victoria University of Technology (unpublished).
    • Whitaker,J.A., Gilliam,P.P., Seba, D.B. (1997). ‘The Bowen Technique: a Gentle Hands-on Method That Affects the Autonomic Nervous System as Measured by Heart Rate Variability and Clinical Assessment’. Abstract presentation American Academy of Environmental Medicine 32nd Annual Conference La Jolla California.
    • Bowen Therapy National Migraine Research Program Oct 2001-April 2002 (review pending)
    • Amato, D., ‘Accelerated Healing Response’ (review pending)
    • Lambeth, B., ‘An Examination of the Bowen Bunion Treatment’ (review pending)
    • Sheedy, G., (2000) ‘Bowen Therapy as an alternate treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome’ (review pending)
Medline Literature
  • Victorian Government. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Osteopathy, Naturopathy and Chiropractic. 1975
  • Russell, J,K., (1994), ‘Bodywork-The Art of Touch’, Nurse Practitioner Forum, 5:2, pp 85-90.
  • Stammers,G., (1996) ‘Bowen Therapeutic Technique’, Journal of Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, 2:3, 85-86
  • Rappaport, S., (1997), ‘Clinical Experiences of a Bowen Therapist’, Positive Health, 18, pp  62-64.
  • Whitaker,J.A., Gilliam,P.P., Seba,D.B. (1997). ‘The Bowen Technique: a Gentle Hands-on Method That Effects the -Autonomic Nervous System as Measured by Heart Rate Variability and Clinical Assessment’. Abstract presentation American Academy of Environmental Medicine 32nd Annual Conference La Jolla California
  • Whitaker, J.A., Marlowe, S.,(1998) ‘The Bowen Technique: A healing modality,     alleviates
  • Myofacial pain of Fibromyalgia and Balances the Dysfunctional changes of the Autonomic Nervous System as measured by clinical assessment and Heart Rate Variability’. Abstract presentation at MYOPAIN ‘98, Silvi Marina, Italy.
  • Nixon-Livy,M.J., (1999) ‘ Neurostructural integration Technique (Advanced Bowen Therapy)’, Positive Health, Aug 1999, 48-51
  • Figov, J., (1999) ‘Gentle Touch Bowen Therapy’ Positive Health. (44):47-9 1999 Sept
  • Lund, E., (1999) ‘Bowen and Lymphatic Drainage’, British Lymphology Society Newsletter, 24, pp 10-13.
  • Hodgson, K., (2000) ‘Bowen:simplicity in movement’ Physiotherapy Frontline. 6(19):22
  • Rousselot, P., (2000) ‘Bowen Technique’, Clinicians Complete reference to Complementary/Alternative Medicine, Mosby, Missouri, 371-380.
  • Carter, B., (2001) ‘A pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of Bowen Technique in the management of clients with frozen shoulder’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 9(4):280-15
  • Dicker, A., (2001) ‘Using Bowen Therapy to improve staff health’ The Australian Journal of Holistic Nursing. 8(1):38-42.
  • Dicker, A., (2001) ‘Bowen Therapy’, Nursing Aust The Journal @ The New South Wales College of Nursing’, 2(3) 7
  • Carter, B., (2002) ‘Clients’ experience of frozen shoulder and its treatment with Bowen Technique’ Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery. 8(4):204-10
  • Akkermans, G., (2002) ‘Physio recommends Bowen for facial palsy, Physiotherapy Frontline. 8(10):30
  • Potter, R., (2002), ‘Evidence points to effectiveness of Bowen for frozen shoulder’ Physiotherapy Frontline. 8(7):16
  • Olafiminhan,K., Hall, S., (2002) ‘Bowen- moving blocked energy: Bowen is a gentle but highly effective technique for the treatment of many conditions’. Positive Health. (74):51-4 2002 Mar

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5 comments

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  1. Elena Santamaria

    Hi! I am interested in becoming a BCT for my own self and problems, but also to be able to practice it on others whereas I need a certification. Please let me know if there is a way to do it all online because where I live there si no training for certification ,..but I also travel a lot and I couldn’t attend classes. Thank you.

    1. Jonathan Damonte

      Dear Elena, anyone can learn to do the therapy from watching the videos, many people do this to help themselves and their families. I would recommend the Bowen Monthly subscription as you can then cancel at any time.

  2. Lisa Coyne

    I am a massage therapist in Wisconsin and I am would like to be able to become a bowen therapist. I am wondering about how to get educated in the bowen method if there are places in the area or am I able to do some or all of the education online.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa Coyne, LMT

    1. Jonathan Damonte

      Hello Lisa, thanks for your question about learning options for becoming a Bowen Therapist. Essentially, all Certified Bowen Therapists have taken live classes at some point. Many people learn Bowen Therapy to use as an additional modality and don’t want or need to be certified so they are quite satisfied learning online and utlilizing the video lessons without the feedback from a teacher in person.

  3. shaun hansen

    HI,

    I am a massage therapist in Seattle WA and would like to be able to become a bowen therapist. I am curious about how to get educated in the bowen method if there are places in the area or am I able to do some or all of the education online. Do I need to have further education as in physical or occupational therapy to be able to preform this on patients. Thank you for all of your help.

    Sincerely,

    Shaun Hansen

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