The future is bright for The Bowen Technique
Written by By Alastair Rattray. Published on 10 June 2009.
An article published in CAM magazine on line.
A lot can change in 18 months. It was shortly before Christmas that she came to me for her first treatment suffering severely from ME. Although a "high flyer" with a top job with a city firm, she had been unable to work for nearly a year nor had she been able to look after her delightful two-year-old daughter. Added to all this, she had heard that morning that she had effectively lost her job. This was not a good start. She had tried a number of therapies, as so many clients have done, with little progress being made. We don't have to do too much to achieve a lot with Bowen. The adjustments are made by the body, not the therapist as in so many other therapies. So this first treatment was very basic to ensure there was no great reaction. Treatment was weekly and by March she was able to go away on holiday and to start looking after her daughter. In May, she had made such good progress that she decided to train in the Bowen Technique as her daughter, an asthmatic, had also responded so well to treatment. By then she was looking after her herself. Holidays abroad as well as all the treatments she was now able to give others changed much in her life. Her daughter stopped having asthma attacks (the cats had gone too!). This year she took her Final Bowen exams, produced a lovely second daughter and qualified as a Bowen therapist. Certainly, a lot can change in 18 months.
Tom Bowen was a gifted Australian who lived in Geelong, near Melbourne. His parents came from Wolverhampton. Tom developed his amazing therapy over 35 years, teaching just six people over a few years just before he died in 1982. The therapy arrived in the UK in 1992 and Julian Baker first started teaching it in 1994 and formed The European College of Bowen Studies soon after.
Bowen is a gentle therapy which does not attempt to impose the will of the therapist on the client. Small, gentle moves are made across the edge of muscles and other soft tissue in specific places. A unique feature of the Bowen Technique is that the therapist will then leave the room for a few minutes after a very few moves (usually about 2 minutes) to allow the body to make its adjustments without interference. Treatment can be done through light clothing which is much appreciated by many clients. Tom was able to treat three people at once because of the "two minute" gaps, a practice which we can still do today as the gap time does not have to be of any specific length.
It has become clear to me that Bowen affects at least three levels; the muscular-skeletal system, others such as the immune system and the emotional system. These are affected simply by the treatment, so no special sets of moves are required to achieve this. This can have profound effects on clients as the case above has illustrated.
A hospital physiotherapy department asked for help with a man who had fractured his spine more than two years previously and had made no progress over the two years. He could only walk with a shuffle since, if he tried to take a normal step, he would get a severe pain all the way down his right leg to his foot. He walked with a stoop and had considerable tension in the rest of his body. The department had tried everything including osteopathy and acupuncture, but to no avail. . However, it took just four Bowen treatments to fix him. He was walking upright after the first session with a considerable reduction in pain in his leg. By the fourth treatment, he was walking normally and by the end of the session, he was able to tie his shoe laces; a standard measurement used to discharge the patient as "fixed". The department then funded the training of their senior physiotherapist in the Bowen Technique. This case illustrated so clearly how Bowen works where muscles have simply gone into spasm.
Many things can affect the efficacy of the immune system. Once the immune system is working below par, it can be difficult to bring it up to defend the body effectively. Two cases in particular illustrate the way Bowen can change this situation very quickly. One person had an infected sinus for two and a half years, was on regular antibiotics and taking at least six Anadin a day for the pain. Immediately after the first treatment, which also helped relieve the congestion in the sinuses, the infection stopped and the Anadin were no longer required. In the other case, an infection for eighteen months was regularly brought slightly under some control with antibiotics, but it would flare up again soon after. After just one Bowen treatment, the infection subsided immediately and disappeared, not to return.
While running a clinic at The Blenheim Project in West London, which gives support to people with drug and drink problems, it became clear that Bowen had an immediate effect on most cases. They would return reporting that they had become very "focussed" and often implemented decisions that they had been considering perhaps for years. This effect on the emotional system was also well illustrated by a young school girl of 16 who had just spent eight months in a psychiatric hospital having had a total breakdown. She had her first Bowen treatment just before the September term, somewhat unwillingly! This had such a profound effect that she returned, very happily, for her second treatment bringing a young friend who was similarly trying to cope with a huge personal crisis. The two girls came regularly throughout the term for treatment. By Christmas, the first one had been asked to give the "school speech" at the end of term, and was made Head Girl by February. Her friend had also managed her crisis very well. Both families wrote similarly, "we were a family in crisis, but Bowen sorted it out for us all".
While these cases illustrate the way that Bowen affects the muscular skeletal, immune and emotional systems, it also has a very effective track record on many other specific conditions such as asthma, frozen shoulders, hay fever and sinus problems, MS and fibromyalgia as well as many other conditions. The effect on asthmatics can be dramatically quick. Having experience of hundreds of asthma cases now, it is clear that in many an immediate change usually takes place, even with those suffering over many years. A 27 year old had suffered from asthma since she was a baby. Still under the same doctor, her asthma was progressively worsening to the extent that she had to consider changing her very stressful, but enjoyable job managing two wedding dress shops. Although her medication was regularly increased, she was having to use her Ventolin inhaler 20 times a day, effectively overdosing on it, just to get through the day. Using stairs was a great effort and staying in hotels was always a problem. Her hay fever made matters even worse at the height of the "season" for her business. She arrived rather sceptical as to whether Bowen would be able to help much. Yet it took only two treatments to completely change her life. She has now not used Ventolin at all for three years. Her doctor, originally worried for her as she had not come for her frequently needed prescription called her. She explained she was having Bowen and what had changed. Satisfied, her doctor soon took her off all asthma medication. However, key to the change was also that she had been taught the Bowen Release Move (illustrated at both www.Bowen-for-Asthma.com and at the children's web site www.relieve-childhood-asthma.com) which is also effective with anxiety and panic attacks. This simple move releases tension in the diaphragm and can be used at the first signs of the chest tightening, long before there is a need to use Ventolin. In this case, she went from using Ventolin 20 times a day to none almost overnight. Additionally, she has not suffered from hay fever since her first treatments. A one day "Asthma Nurse" course in the West Country will soon teach professionals, including doctors who have become very interested in Bowen, a simple procedure to use on children and infants.
Having worked with the Bowen Technique now for over ten years, it still amazes me as to the wide range of conditions it helps so effectively. Working with two treatment rooms side-by-side allows me to treat two people at the same time when necessary. This is particularly useful when families come for treatment as it saves them time as well. However, it also has the added benefit that urgent cases can also be fitted in even when my appointment diary is full. Tom Bowen worked with three rooms at the same time, which, in my experience, is the maximum one can successfully do while keeping a check on where your clients are! As a teacher, I encourage my students to start treating as soon as they have started the course, even in the evening of their first day. Some truly amazing results are reported the following morning which gives them all great confidence. Bowen is gentle and non invasive with no manipulation at all, so is safe at any age. The success rate achieved is usually high which is why it is now so well known and being used by more and more professionals. The future is very bright for this wonderful therapy
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