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The Bowen Technique takes its name from Tom Bowen (1916-1982). Tom’s parents emigrated to Australia from the UK before he was born. Interested in anatomy from very early in his life, Tom worked as a labourer and never officially qualified as a therapist. He just did it!
He was a member of the Salvation Army and coached children in sports, especially swimming. But apparently he could feel separate muscles, nerves and soft tissues and detect muscular vibrations in them. The sensation he felt showed him where to treat.
He developed a therapy unlike any other physical therapy: very economical in its movements, yet with startlingly good results.
Starting in the 1950’s his practice in Geelong, Australia, grew rapidly. In fact it grew so fast that when an Australian parliamentary committee did a survey in the 1970’s they were astounded to discover that he was treating 280 patients weekly, nearly 13000 patients annually – and most of them only came for three treatments! He reckoned that although he couldn’t help everyone, 88% of his patients got better.
He never ran a training school to teach others what he did. However, a number of individuals did observe him at work and study with him. What we do now we owe to them. A number of schools have developed from what those individuals taught, but the underlying Bowen movements are basically the same for them all.
Rather than massaging an area of the body, Bowen technique carefully choses specific muscle or tendon groups. It gives them a kind of sliding/releasing treatment. This first tightens pressure over the muscle then rolls it so releasing the pressure. When you watch it being done, it seems like very little happens. But its effects are often profound.