Bowen therapy, or the Bowen technique, is a non-invasive, complementary therapy. It targets certain points on the body with gentle rolling movements to help it balance, repair and reset itself.
Developed in the 1950s by Tom Bowen, this therapy is reported to help with a number of conditions and can address symptoms of stress and anxiety. It is important to note that Bowen therapy focuses on the whole person, not just the condition. The Bowen therapist will know a number of movements that affect certain areas of the body.
The movements used in Bowen therapy are very distinctive and are used on precise points on the body. It involves moving the soft tissue in a particular way. It’s a rolling type movement using the fingers, hands and/or elbow, depending on the area being worked on. It creates focus for the brain by stimulating the nerve pathways and tissue. The movement uses the slack of the skin to move the tissue underneath. Each movement will only cover a small area, depending on how far your skin can move. Typically, it’s no more than two to four centimetres.
Tom Bowen found that he could utilise certain parts of the body as reference points for other procedures or movements. For example, the entirety of the spine can be seen as a shock absorber for the body. So some parts of the spine will become stressed – typically the convex and concave of the spine’s curve. Tom Bowen named the movements in these areas blockers or stoppers. Even though they don’t really block nor stop, they do give an area to focus on when treating, so the given name isn’t too inaccurate.
Tom Bowen was a very observational person. He could see when parts of the body were subtly imbalanced, so he could then begin treatment quickly. Once he started what now has been dubbed Bowen therapy, he would leave the room for a few minutes before returning to check how the patient’s body responded. This would determine if anything else needed to be done.
The principle of resting the body for a couple of minutes is vital as it starts the process of repair. The length of time between procedures will differ from client to client. The breaks, however, can be hard to master as they are one of the most difficult concepts to learn as a Bowen therapist. Even though breaks are one of the least understood principles of the therapy, they are considered the most important as it’s the time when the repairing starts.