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 that a therapist performs 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.


Each session will vary according to the problems of the client. As a general rule, moves will be made over the lower and mid back and legs, the upper back and shoulders along with neck moves with the client supine (face up). The 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. 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. 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 – the treatment is holistic, benefiting the whole body. Reactions to treatment are not uncommon and include tiredness, increase in original symptoms, stiffness, headaches, flu like symptoms, increased dream activity.


Advice given to each client will emphasise the importance of movement, the drinking of water and the return for treatments. 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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