Bowen Technique, light touch, soft tissue manipulation
The Bowen Technique is a remedial, hands-on therapy that is applied using very gentle pressure. 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 used. The experience of a treatment is gentle, subtle and relaxing. It is believed that the Bowen Technique prompts the body to reset, repair and balance itself and clients report the experience of pain relief, improvement of function and recovery of energy.
As a therapy, Bowen is truly light-touch. The pressure used in Bowen is quite subtle and can be extremely light and still get the job done. It is not dependent on hard pressure and there is no awkward bending, twisting or re-positioning of the client during the treatment. Because of this, Bowen can be considered for clients for whom other forms of therapy might be too aggressive, forceful or invasive. The tiniest of babies through to the frailest of adults have been treated with Bowen.
Explorer Bear Grylls is "hooked" on Bowen Therapy after breaking his back in 3 places.. "it felt like petrol was being put back in my tank"
A key element of the principle guiding Bowen, and indeed all complementary therapies, is that we work holistically, according to the well-established principle of naturopathic medicine: 'That the body be treated as a whole, without referral to named disease'. Indeed, with Bowen we don't diagnose and we are not treating just the named disease or condition, but we are treating the whole person.
Author and BBC2 Presenter Janey Lee Grace says: "I've known Bowen to help many people with serious back pain even after they were told they'd never walk again!"
The Bowen Technique treatment protocol is very well worked out in its effect on the whole body. For instance, probably the most common presentation for a Bowen therapist will be back pain. With Bowen we will tend to give a whole-body treatment at the first visit, which includes the neck, knees and shoulders. Because it is often very difficult to be completely sure where any given pain is coming from and to know how other structures are being affected by the original problem, Bowen's holistic way of treating will most often get to the root of problems gently and efficiently.
Four distinctive elements of Bowen
These are the main elements that define the Bowen Technique and are based on what the originator of the therapy, Tom Bowen, did rather than any suggestion of an optimal approach.
The Bowen Move The Bowen move is very distinctive and is applied at very precise points on the body. It involves the movement of soft tissue in a certain way. The move is a rolling-type move of the thumbs and forefingers, not a flick, and is designed to stimulate the tissue and nerve pathways, creating a focus for the brain. The move does not slide 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, usually no more than 2 – 4 centimetres across. See the short film on pendulum waves to gain an idea of the effect a bowen move creates in the body. The move generates a change which unravles the current holding pattern and allows it to reform into a different pattern.
The Stoppers Tom Bowen discovered that he could use certain areas of the body as reference points for other moves or procedures. For instance, the whole spine acts as a shock absorber for the body. This means that the concave and convex points of the spine's curvature are the most stress-loaded. Tom Bowen capitalised on this source of energy, calling the moves in these areas stoppers or blockers. In point of fact, they neither stop nor block but, as they do create a focused section for treatment, the name is not altogether inappropriate.
The Breaks, leaving the client alone in the treatment room before returning some minutes later to check how the body has responded and determine what more, if anything, needed to be done. This element of allowing the body to rest for a few minutes initiates the process of repair and is terribly important. The length of the breaks will vary from client to client and with different procedures, but on average we will leave clients for around two minutes in between each set of moves. The implications for these breaks become more apparent for experienced practitioners, but at the start of training many people find this a very difficult concept. The breaks are probably one of the least understood parts of Bowen and yet it is during the breaks that the work starts to take effect and changes are implemented. A visual representation of what is happening in the breaks can be seen in the pendulum waves film.
No other treatments The most fundamental principle of Bowen is that it is the client that is doing the work, not the therapist, and for this to happen the body needs time and to be left alone. This is not to say that other treatments are in some way less valid or less powerful than Bowen but simply that we need to give any process a chance if it is to be effective. If each therapy is a well-worked out set of signals, so to speak, loading more than one within a certain space of time is like asking a radio to pick up two stations at once.
For some people Bowen isn't enough and there are clients who will prefer to be massaged or given other treatments. But when treating with Bowen, no other hands-on therapy should be introduced within a week, in order to have a 'clear canvas'.
Booking a Session
If you would like to book a session, simply select from the top of the page, the practitioner you would like to book with and use the contact form on their page to get in touch with them. If you are not sure who you would like to book with, you can just send a general enquiry to the Centre via our Contact Us page.
Can Bowen be used with other treatments?
The treatment is, in effect, asking the body to undertake a process of repair and so should be allowed to do so without interruption or contradiction. A client will be asked not to have other forms of physical or energetic therapy whilst receiving Bowen and to leave a period of a week either side.
How is a Bowen treatment given?
The best work is done directly on the skin to give the clearest feedback to the practitioner as the moves are performed, you will never be asked to wear less then underwear. If this is not possible most procedures can be done through light clothing and you can discuss this with you practitioner if you have any concerns.. The ultimate choice should be the client's, however. Although each session will vary according to the presenting problems of the client as well as the skill and experience of the therapist, an initial treatment will address the whole body. As a general rule, moves will be made over the lower and mid back and legs, the upper back and shoulders before finishing with neck moves with the client supine (face up). A session will generally last around 45-60 minutes although this will vary according to the way individual therapists work. Treatments should be scheduled between 5-7 days apart and an initial set of 3 treatments is recommended in order to establish whether the client is likely to respond to treatment.
Will I experience responses from the treatment?
Post-treatment reactions to treatment are not uncommon and include tiredness, thirst, an increase in original symptoms, stiffness, headaches, flu-like symptoms, increased dream activity. Aftercare advice given to each client will emphasise the importance of movement, the drinking of water and the return for treatments. It is vital that a client does not cease the treatment in response to a strong reaction. The moves are so subtle that if a strong reaction is experienced it demonstrates how profound the work can be and further treatments are essential if the full effect is going to be felt. Most people will have responses within three to four sessions, when even long standing pain has been seen to be relieved in many clients. Some conditions might need to be treated more often, but in either case it is recommended that clients return for regular treatments every six to eight weeks to maintain optimum health.