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Bowen Technique By Karen

Helping the Body to Rebalance and Repair

Bowen Technique by Karen

01954 260982

07714 995229

[email protected]

Bowen Technique Cambridge

My Blog


YOGA Magazine Article 2012

Posted on 28 April, 2013 at 8:00 Comments comments (7)

The founder of the Bowen Technique, Tom Bowen (1916 – 1982) was born in Brunswick, Australia. He started by treating the injuries, aches and pains of local sportsmen, friends and family and colleagues in Geelong.  

He had a particular interest in back pain and in the 1960s, he opened his own clinic and developed the therapy.During the 1970s, the Webb Report (Australian Government Report into Complementary Therapies) found that Tom Bowen was treating 13,000 people a year. The Bowen technique is now being taught to final year university students of Osteopathy in Australia.

Bowen Therapy is an alternative complementary therapy which has over the last 20 years become the treatment of choice for people worldwide. The Bowen technique is a drugfree, non-invasive, hands-on remedial therapy which can be administered through light clothing, with the client sitting, standing or lying. Releasing stress at a very deep level, it then stimulates the body to realign, addressing imbalances in functions and chemical composition and, restoring physiological equilibrium. 

It prides itself on being able to trigger the body’s own healing systems. Bowen can help with a wide range of conditions, physical and emotional, and is suitable for all ages, from new-born babies to the elderly and infirm.

With primarily fingers and thumbs, the Bowen practitioner makes small, rolling movements over muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue at precise points on the body, using only the amount of pressure appropriate for that individual. No hard-tissue manipulation or force is needed or used.  

Rather than ‘making’ the body change, Bowen ‘asks’ the body to recognise and make the changes it requires.  Between each set of moves, the body is allowed to rest for a few minutes, to allow it to absorb the information it has received and initiate the healing process. 

Each session lasts between 30-60 minutes, depending on the age of the client and the nature of their condition. Many clients become so relaxed they fall asleep during the treatment.  

Short-term (acute) injury may be resolved in one to three Bowen treatments, while longstanding (chronic) conditions may require longer. A gap of five to ten days is recommended between Bowen sessions, so that the body can process the subtle information it has been given. It is advised that clients do not have other hands-on therapies while receiving Bowen, as this can confuse the body’s response and inhibit the healing process. 

This remarkable technique can be quick and effective in helping people that suffer from the following ailments:
• Muscular and skeletal problems in neck, shoulder, hip, knees, ankle and back, including sciatica
• Frozen shoulder, tennis and golf elbow, R.S.I. (Repetitive Strain Injury) and carpal tunnel 
• Whiplash and sports injuries 
• Problems with posture and body alignment 
• Migraine and recurring headaches
• Bell’s Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and the difficulties suffered by stroke victims
• Respiratory, bronchial and related conditions such as hay fever and asthma 
• Digestive problems such as IBS 
• Arthritis 
• Hormonal, pregnancy and fertility problems
• Stress management, ME, fatigue and sleep problems.

The BTPA (Bowen Therapist Professional Association) the principal registering body for Bowen practitioners have carried out a number of studies over the years on the effectiveness of Bowen Therapy. 

A study into the effects of Bowen Technique on Knee Pain and Ankle Pain was conducted between June and August 2009. 110 clients received treatments, of which 69 per cent reported a partial recovery and 19 per cent reported a full recovery. 

The cause of ankle joint pain is often associated with an imbalance in the muscle tensions around the leg or foot. Bowen Therapy is thought to provide a trigger that the body uses to reset muscle spindle length, reducing the tightness within the muscles and tendons, and easing compression on surrounding tissues, such as blood vessels and nerves. Pain relief occurs as the body’s natural healing mechanisms are stimulated.

BTPA also carried out research on migraines over a six week period; each participant received three Bowen treatments. The participants had all been suffering Migraines for at least ten years, some for over 30.  The results were very positive; of the 39 participants in the programme, 31 volunteers reported an improvement in their migraine condition.

Bowen can provide fast and effective pain relief and in some cases permanent correction that can last up to two years.  

A study into the effect of Bowen Therapy on shoulder or neck pain was conducted in the summer of 2008.  271 clients new to Bowen were treated and of these 86% showed a full or partial recovery after only 3 treatments. 

Shoulder and neck pain can be particularly debilitating especially where there is restriction as in adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder. It can also be linked to emotional problems and where the client is experiencing particularly stressful situations. Shoulder and neck pain can be linked to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) and carpal tunnel problems which are conditions that can respond well to Bowen Therapy.

Another study into the effects of Bowen Therapy on Back Pain was conducted in June 2007. The outcome was on the whole very satisfying, not to mention revealing, with almost 90% of treatments given resulting in either a complete or partial recovery. 

By triggering a re-balancing of the muscles around the lumbar and pelvic areas, Bowen Therapy may help to stabilize a weak area, reduce compression around the nerve roots or improve circulation to the spinal discs, muscles and joints. Bowen therapy helps to reduce pain and also improve range of movement throughout the body.

To find a Bowen Therapist in your area, visit

To undergone Bowen therapy from accredited, trained Bowen practitioner it is best to search for a member of the Bowen Therapy Professional Association. BTPAapproved establishments, have certificates in Anatomy and Physiology and First Aid, have professional insurance and have undertaken continuing professional development (CPD). 

BTPA has a ‘find a therapist’ list available to people seeking a qualified practitioner on their website


Posted on 20 January, 2013 at 8:57 Comments comments (2)
Saturday, 3 April 1999   

H E A L I N G     H A N D S   
Nearly two decades after his death ‘the Bowen Technique’ is being taught to final year osteopathy students at both RMIT and VUT and is expected to become part of the chiropractic curriculum.   KAREN MATTHEWS delves into the history of a remarkable man.     

 “I expect to pass through this world but once; Any good thing therefore that I can do, Or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature Let me do it now; Let me not defer or neglect it For I shall not pass this way again.”    

John o’London’s Treasure Trove (1925) A verse by which Tom Bowen lived.  
Perhaps Tom Bowen may not pass this way again, but the gift he left behind, after more than 30 years working in a profession in which he was never formally qualified, will live on.  

Today, 17 years after his death, he is still remembered as a naturally gifted, self-taught osteopath who through his own special technique managed to help thousands of people overcome or learn to cope with a wide range of injury, illness and disability. 

According to those who knew him best, there were many facets to his character.  He could be gruff and certainly had a low tolerance of fools.  Yet he was humble to a fault, a compassionate man who never pretended to be anything he wasn’t, never judged people, expected anything from them or ripped them off.  On the contrary, he rarely charged battlers - and children never. 

Tom Bowen was born in Brunswick in 1916, one of four children in a working class family at a time when a boy needed only enough education to get him a job.  In September 1941, he married Jessie McLean and the couple moved to Geelong where Tom landed a job with a milk carter called ‘Whistler’ Lee.  

Later he worked on the wharves, as a general hand in a local woollen mill and eventually the cement works where he developed a keen interest in treating the various aches and pains of fellow workers - in particular bad backs. 

He became friendly with a man called Ernie Saunders who had an excellent reputation in Melbourne as a ‘manipulator’ and Tom would visit his rooms regularly to watch him work and listen to what he had to say.  Before long he had developed his own technique and was putting it to good use on his workmates.  

Other good friends were Stan Horwood and his wife Rene, who opened their home so Tom had somewhere to treat people of an evening.  According to Tom’s older daughter, Pam Trigg, after working at the cement works all day her father would go home, have tea and get changed before going to the Horwoods to treat people often until late at night.  “When Stan died in the early 1960’s, Dad decided to leave his job at the cement works and with Rene’s assistance, open his own clinic in La Trobe Terrace,” Pam said.  

“Over the years the clinic had a number of different locations, eventually settling in Villamanta Street.” Word of Tom’s successful technique spread and the clinic quickly built up into a very busy practice.  

Saturday mornings once a fortnight were devoted entirely to children with disabilities and every Saturday night Tom opened his clinic to injured football players.  No appointments were made and the lights didn’t go out until the last player had been seen. 

“There were times as children when we barely saw Dad because he was so busy,” Pam said.  “And although we would get angry about this, we remained a very close family.  We all got along well with Dad but as children we know nothing about his technique.  He gave so much to others and as a young person I couldn’t understand that - I certainly can now.  Everyone today is grasping for money but Dad was different, that wasn’t what he was about at all.  In fact, at one point we were all afraid he would be closed down, but he saw the need in people and had a very giving attitude towards life.”  

Geelong chiropractor Romney Smeeton was one of six men who trained under Tom Bowen and still remembers him as a man with great empathy towards his fellow man.  

“He had no formal training for the work he did but was greatly influenced by a group of Melbourne practitioners,” Romney said.  “He had a lot of people wanting to learn from him over the years and he didn’t beat around the bush if he thought it wasn’t going to work out. “Someone might work with him for three or four days and he’d just say, ‘Look, you just haven’t got it son’.  And that would be the end of that. 

“I’m not sure he even knew how potent his treatment was because so much of it was intuitive.  Everything Tom did he expected to get a result from and so he was never surprised when it happened.  He was very hard of hearing and loved a joke and I remember that if the noise of a crowded room ever became too much for him he’d simply turn his hearing aid down and smile.  

He also had a whole pile of funny little remedies for gout and sinus that worked, and a special ointment called ‘white magic’ which had camphor, whisky and gin in it - don’t ask me in what proportions or how it worked, but it was a great liniment for foot injuries.”

Romney said that while Tom used his hands to heal there was also an aura of positivity about him.  “He may not have officially been an osteopath or chiropractor, but he certainly did all the things expected of one and had far more talent than a lot of those practising,” he said.  “Tom knew he had powers of healing that were way beyond anything we could do, but unfortunately his lack of education meant he simply didn’t have the terminology to be able to describe exactly what muscle he was adjusting.”

According to Romney, during the 1970’s, the Government Report into Complementary Therapies, titled The Webb Report, found that Tom was treating 13,000 people a year and at one point seeing 100 clients a day, despite his own health problems with diabetes.

In 1981, after 30 years of practice, Tom applied for acceptance by the Chiropractors and Osteopaths Registration Board under what was known as the ‘grandfather’ clause, which allowed automatic registration of chiropractors and osteopaths without formal qualifications on four conditions.

The applicant had to pay the appropriate examination fee, have successfully practised osteopathic or chiropractic pursuits for at least five years, proven professional competency by undergoing a clinical assessment, and be of good character.

Tom passed three with flying colours but his lack of formal education was no match for the clinical assessment set down by the board-appointed committee and he subsequently failed the examination.

“In the end, he was allowed to go on practising, but only if he found a new title for himself, so he called himself an alternative therapist,” Romney said.  “It made absolutely no difference to his patients, who continued to flock to him for treatment, but he was disappointed because he wanted them to be able to claim medical benefits and unless he was registered they couldn’t.”

Romney said Tom’s teaching had had an enormous impact on his own work as a chiropractor.  “He gave us a technique and procedure - a direction to follow and we should be very grateful for that,” he said.  “But there is so much that he has taken with him.  What I miss most about him is his immense knowledge - and even then we only scratched the surface.  

Important to me is the fact that Tom passed on his knowledge for free - that he didn’t charge us anything for it.  And I hope that his philosophy about helping people, the way he went about his work and the spirit in which he did it won’t be forgotten in years to come.”

Geelong osteopath Kevin Ryan also trained under Tom and described him as an osteopath in the true sense of the word despite having had no formal training in that field.  “He was an incredibly generous man in the sense that with his clinic for the disabled, he never charged a fee for children, and the droves of kids who came to be treated all called him ‘Uncle Tom’.  Because of his poor hearing he used to lip read so it wasn’t unusual for him to switch off to adults.  However, whenever he was working with kids he wouldn’t take his eyes off them in case they said something and he wasn’t able to know what they were saying.  He lost a grandchild with cerebral palsy and I believe this was a big force in his life.  He felt terribly sad that he’d been unable to do anything to help his little granddaughter and so he put a great deal of energy into helping those he could.”

According to Kevin, he had been attending Saturday clinics where Tom had been working on a young girl with a withered arm.  “After working on it for some time, the arm began to grow and became more useful,”  Kevin said.  “I was fascinated and asked if I could come along and watch what he was doing.  Tom agreed, and  I stayed with him for three years.”

Kevin said Tom was often called out by Geelong police to treat injuries, visited the then Geelong Training Prison where he treated inmates, and attended to Animals with as much care as his human patients. 

He had an energy and passion for his work that couldn’t be dampened even after losing a leg through diabetes and when a horse he was treating one time stood on his prosthetic foot he thought it was hilarious.  It was the first time he’d ever had a horse stand on his foot and it hadn’t hurt a bit.

Tom Bowen died at Geelong on 25 October 1982, and his funeral was standing-room only - a fitting farewell for a man who had helped so many throughout his life. 

Since then his work has been recognised in a number of ways, put into practice by those he taught, plus the formation of the Bowen Therapists Association of Australia in 1997.

But the greatest recognition by far of Tom Bowen’s work is that The Bowen Technique is now being taught to final year osteopathy students at both RMIT and VUT and is expected to become part of the chiropractic curriculum.

Contents provided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)

For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email [email protected]

The Tom Bowen Story

Posted on 20 January, 2013 at 8:27 Comments comments (96)
The Tom Bowen Story
a short biography by his daughters, Heather Edmonds and Pam Trigg  

Thomas Ambrose Bowen was born on April 18, 1916 the third child and only son of William and Norah Bowen. He had two older sisters, Norah and Beatrice and a younger sister, Agnes.
Tom left school at an early age, possibly at 15 years of age, and became a carpenter like his father. If he had ever entertained the idea of going to medical school this would never have happened as his father would never had considered any of his children getting a better education than was necessary to be employed.
Tom married Jessie McLean at the Salvation Army, Ringwood in 12 September 1941 and they proceeded to live with Tom’s parents had moved to Geelong, Victoria ( large provincial town). Tom and Jessie had three children, Pam, Barry and Heather.
During their married life Jessie suffered from very bad asthma, often being hospitalised in an effort to help her breathe. This was in her early forties. Tom started to somehow learn how to help her shift her congestion and along with some special medicine obtained from a chemist in the state of Queensland and a change of diet; Jessie received considerable benefit. It was most unusual in those days to change your diet for an “illness” but Tom was convinced this was the way to Jessie’s recovery. After some years she no longer required the medicine but thanks to Tom’s method and diet she never had to go to hospital again.
It was during the 1950’s that Tom began an association with a man named Ernie Saunders, often referred to as a ‘legend in the 40’s and 50’s as a physical manipulator’. Tom would visit him and they would share many hours together and it was through talking with Ernie that he began to learn what was later to become Tom’s technique. It was not long before Tom’s ideas far outweighed those of Ernie’s and the visits ceased. The development stage commenced. 

In the late 1950’s Tom worked for the Geelong Cement Works and it was during this time that there were obvious signs of an interest in healing. What he did and how this came about is a mystery. During this time he became friends with a man, Stan Horwood, who believed Tom had a unique gift. Tom started helping people with ‘bad backs’ and other ailments and so his life of helping others began. Stan Horwood invited Tom to set up a practice at his home every evening after completing a days work at the Cement Works.
At this time, Jessie kept the family going at home with three children and the formal events of family life. She always had his meals on the table when he walked through the door of an evening. He would be at home for about an hour when he would change into good trousers and a shirt and tie and go to the Horwood’s. Mrs. Horwood ran a hairdressing business at this time and so she assisted with the running of the practice.
The business grew and grew through word of mouth. There was no advertising. People would wait outside the Horwood residence for hours to see Tom. Cars would line the pavement. It became obvious that the practice could not continue this way and so it moved to 99 LaTrobe Terrace., Geelong, on a full time basis. He stayed at this address for a few years and then moved to 283 LaTrobe Terrace, Geelong where he moved between two rooms. At this time he used single beds with a mat at the bottom of the bed. It was many years later before he moved to electric massage tables.
At all of Tom’s clinics there were collection boxes for all kinds of charities. At times there were novelty items available for sale. Anything to help those less fortunate than others.
Tom did not have appointments as such. A patient would ring his clinic and told the opening hours of the clinic were between 9am – 11am and 1pm – 4pm. On arrival at the clinic patients were given a number from 1 to 33 in order of presentation. They would wait in the waiting room until their number was called. When all patients were seen during the morning he would then go home for lunch which Jessie had prepared and had waiting for him. He would return just before 1pm and return home when all patients had been seen in the afternoon which would have been some time after 5:30pm. During the evening he would do house calls returning home at approximately 9:30pm.
Tom had a Saturday morning clinic for disabled children where they were treated free. Parents would bring their children to him from many miles away, sometimes traveling 3 – 4 hours. Results were not immediate with these children but over a number of years results were amazing.
He held a clinic every Saturday evening for those who had injured themselves playing sport during the day. This was also a free clinic and people once again, came from near and far.
If Tom had people attend his clinic who were in desperate circumstances or with disabled children needing extra care, he was a most generous person. At this stage of his career he could have made a great deal of money, but this was definitely not his priority. What Tom could do for people was his greatest reward and this continued to be his cause throughout his life. He did not always immediate have the answer to a problem that was presented to him but he would analyse the problem and have a solution in a few days. 
Tom trained several men during his lifetime. These people were: Keith Davis, Nigel Love, Kevin Neave, Oswald Rentsch, Kevin Ryan and Romney Smeeton. These men each had their own set day at which they would attend the clinic. There were others who would attend his clinic to learn his technique but if Tom felt that they didn’t ‘have the touch’ he would ask them to leave.
Due to circumstances beyond his control, he moved from 283 LaTrobe Terrace to Villamanta Street, Geelong West. It was during the 1970’s that Tom applied for registration of his business. This process took considerable time and was eventually refused. This had a devastating impact on Tom as he felt that the ‘establishment’ was telling him he was not worthy or appreciated. He was interviewed by a government inquiry where it was stated that he saw 13,000 patients per year. Whether he was registered or not people still came from far and wide to see him.
It was during this time at Villamanta Street, that he had his first leg removed. The reason for this is unknown. The members of the family were told it was due to poor circulation. This was a devastating time for Tom who was a very active man. A friend would drive Tom to physiotherapy a few times a week. After some months he had a prosthesis made which enabled him to have an easier life. At this time, the clinic ran on a part time basis and Tom eventually returned to work. It was not long after this that the clinic was again opened on a full time basis with Tom back at work full time. The practice continued to grow as it had always done, by word of mouth.

In the 1982, Tom had his second leg removed. Due to a serious infection he was moved to the infectious disease area of the hospital where he never recovered.
Today Tom’s work has been taught world-wide and is taught at university level in Australia. Each person who has been taught Tom’s technique has their own unique way of interpreting it. Each person’s interpretation is different. The only original Bowen therapist was Tom Bowen himself. He continually developed and adapted his technique to whatever situation presented itself to him – perhaps sticking to the same basics but always a different interpretation. He had a favourite saying by which he lived his life:

“I expect to pass through this world but once;
Any good thing therefore that I can do,
Or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature
Let me do it now;
Let me not defer or neglect it,
For I shall never pass this way again.”

Contents provided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)   

For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email [email protected]