The Bowen Technique
The Bowen Technique is a soft tissue remedial therapy, named after
its innovator Tom Bowen. The technique involves the therapist using
fingers or thumbs to move over muscle, ligament tendon and fascia in
various parts of the body.
The work is very subtle, relaxing and gentle involving no hard or
prolonged pressure. During a session the client will lie on a
therapy table or bed, although the work can be effectively carried
out with the client in a chair.
Most of the work can be performed through light clothing, although
some therapists prefer to work on skin. The ultimate choice should
be that of the client's however. Although each session will vary
according to the skill and experience of the therapist, as well as
the presenting problems of the client, 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 feature of the work is that between sets of moves the therapist
will leave the room and allow the client to rest. This is a key
element of Bowen and is a defining aspect of the technique as well
as being one of the most important. The break allows the body the
opportunity to create a decision about what action needs to be taken
in response to the moves given.
As humans we create appropriate responses to most situations. We can
clearly establish where danger is present and determine how we
should respond. Similarly we are able to define appropriate
responses to other stimuli, whether it be sexual, social, pain, heat,
With a Bowen move the response mechanism is thrown into a degree of
confusion as to what the appropriate response should be. The moves
aren't painful and so therefore defence isn't called for. There is
no friction or rubbing so no need to increase fluid to the area. The
breaks give the nervous system a chance to establish the correct
actions. In the process other information can be gathered by the
body and it is common for areas not being directly treated to
respond to the treatment.
A session will last generally around 45 minutes to one hour although
this again will vary according to the way that individual therapists
work. Treatments should be scheduled for between five and seven days
apart and an initial set of three treatments is recommended in order
to establish whether the client is likely to respond to treatment.
Reactions to treatment are not uncommon and include tiredness,
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 chronic pain can be relieved. Other 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
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