Bowen Therapy» Find a therapist dealing with Bowen Therapy
Developed in the 1950's in Australia by Tom Bowen, bowen therapy is a stimulating, restorative, holistic therapy which aims to relieve pain and inflammation by releasing congestion and stimulating energy flow.
Bowen is a non-invasive energy vibrational therapy which involves the therapist rolling their fingers and thumbs over muscle, nerve and connective tissue areas in a sequence, interspersed by periods of rest. The ultimate goal is to reset the body systems and trigger the body's self healing process.
As humans, we have the ability to develop responses to stimuli extremely quickly, for instance if we find ourselves in danger we quickly determine how to respond to it. The same goes for all other situations, whether they be sexual, social or pain related. Because bowen moves are free of pain, they don't provoke our natural defence system and therefore allow our bodies a much needed break, during which they are able to reset.
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After the experience of serving in World War II, Australian Osteopath Thomas Bowen became interested in alleviating human suffering. Previous observations that Bowen had made, demonstrated how certain moves could stimulate the body's natural response mechanisms. Bowen spent years refining the effectiveness of his observations, eventually leading to the development of the bowen therapy we know today.
In the late 1950's Bowen and a close friend Rene Horwood opened a clinic which they ran from her house. Initially they ran the clinic in the evenings after work, but they would often remain open into the early hours, more often than not treating people for free, or even going as far as making house calls to the sick. In addition to this, once a month Bowen ran a free clinic for children with disabilities and on Saturday evenings he opened his doors to injured football players.
Bowen was very selective about who observed him at work and throughout all his years of practice only six people were privileged enough to work with him. One of the six was Ossie Rentsch, who followed Tom for months, watching him treat many patients until he began to understand the inner workings of technique. Under close supervision Rentsch documented and recorded the work of Bowen and in 1982 after Tom's death, Rentsch and his wife formed the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia and began to teach and spread awareness of the technique all around the world.
What do we know?
Although scientific research is still ongoing there have been many studies looking into the effectiveness of bowen therapy for a variety of ailments and injuries. Research carried out at the University of Lancaster by Dr Bernie Carter and his team, evaluated the use of bowen therapy in the treatment of frozen shoulder.
Results showed a significant improvement in shoulder mobility and associated function for all participants, with 70% of participants regaining full mobility by the end of the treatment. Other positive findings were reduced pain intensity scores and pain quality descriptors for all participants. All participants also experienced improvement in daily activities and no one reported that their pain was having a severe impact on their daily lives.
How does it work?
Although research into the inner workings of bowen is ongoing, it is thought that the effectiveness has a lot to do with the 600,000 signals sent and received by our brains each second. A prime example of this would be that of a singular muscle movement. The movement begins in the primary cortex, situated at the front of the brain. It is then sent via the spinal cord to the arm or leg where it is finally translated into movement. In order for all of this to happen the brain needs to know what is happening so it can plan what to do next.
In laymen's terms the entire process is essentially a giant and extremely fast travelling loop which sends and receives information. If you are wondering where bowen comes into all of this then it actually does the work when you are doing nothing. It is the intervals between each sequence of bowen moves that interferes with the signal and creates new data for the brain to examine. Once the brain has reordered the signals it is able to reinterpret the information coming from other areas.
Research is continuing in this area but explains a lot of the peculiarities surrounding bowen, especially the peculiar yet positive side effect, where areas not treated are often affected by bowen.
What to expect
What does the teacher do?
An initial consultation is a standard first step for those considering bowen therapy. This gives the therapist the opportunity to learn as much about you and your medical history as possible, enabling them to make a thorough assessment of your individual situation and ultimately form a treatment plan personally tailored to you and your specific requirements.
It should be noted that because bowen essentially asks the body to repair itself, it is best done without interference or contradiction from other treatments. For this reason, some therapists will advise you to not receive any other manipulative therapies for a certain period of time, as this can undermine the effectiveness of treatment.
In terms of what to wear, bowen can usually be applied to the body through light and loose clothing. If either yourself or the therapist have specific requirements then this is something that can be discussed during the initial consultation.
Before commencing treatment the therapist may request you drink water due to the technique requiring fully hydrated cells and tissues.
During the session you will usually lie on a therapy bed or table and the therapist will apply subtle, relaxing rolling moves across particular muscle groups, tendons and ligaments. A feature of bowen is that between sets of movements the therapist will leave the room or quietly sit and allow the you to rest. The interval allows the body to make a decision about what action needs to be taken in response to the given moves.
Once treatment is complete you will usually be asked to drink additional water before being advised of possible physical and emotional changes you may experience.
Subsequent consultations will include a progress review and possible reassessment in the event you need further or more advanced treatment.
How many sessions will I need?
Although the length of sessions will differ from therapist to therapist you can generally expect a session to last between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In terms of how and when you should have your sessions, many therapists usually recommend that you have a set of three consecutive treatments in order to gain a perspective of how well you might respond. However, after these initial sessions it is normal to have a five to seven day break between each visit.
Many people have reported side effects in response to bowen, ranging from tiredness, stiffness and headaches right through to flu like symptoms. It is really important that you persevere with treatment even if you are experiencing a reaction. Discuss any side effects with your therapist and they will be able to provide you with appropriate aftercare advice such as drinking water, staying active and other tips to help you avoid symptoms.
Although everyone will respond differently to treatment, on average most people will experience a response within about three to four sessions. Some more serious longstanding conditions might take a little longer, but in either case it's recommended that even after experiencing positive results you continue to receive treatment once every couple of months to maintain good health.
How can it help me?
There are a number of conditions in which bowen therapy is said to be beneficial for relief, and in the past, even injured sportsmen have found the method helpful as a remedial therapy during recovery.
What training and qualifications should therapists have?
Though bowen therapists in the UK are not regulated by any laws, it is still reassuring to know that your practitioner is working to certain levels of good practice. This is why there are a number of professional bodies and societies which bowen therapists can choose to register with. In order to join a professional association individuals will usually have to provide proof of competency in the field as well as agreeing to comply with any code of ethics and complaints procedures.
Below you will find information and entry requirements for the main bowen therapy professional associations. This information is subject to change so for more information please visit the professional bodies' websites below:
The Bowen Therapy Professional Association (formerly the Bowen Therapists' European Register) is a non-profit professional organisation of bowen therapists in Europe. In order to be listed on the register as a bowen practitioner individuals must meet certain criteria and comply with the BPTA Ethics and Codes of Practice.
The Bowen Association UK was set up in November 1997 and is the European arm of the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia. The association aims to provide support on both a practical and technical level to practitioners and their clients and hope to increase awareness of the Bowen Technique to both the general public and health professionals.
All members must undertake a minimum of 16 hours approved Continued Professional Development every year (ensuring their knowledge is up-to-date) and they must also agree to abide by the association's Code of Conduct.
All content displayed on Therapy Directory is for provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional. Whilst some people have benefited from complementary and alternative therapies, no claims can be made to treat, cure or heal, and we strongly advise individuals with any health problem to seek independent medical advice from their GP before considering complementary or alternative medicine or treatment.Submit feedback on this page