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What is Bowen Therapy? 

Bowen Therapy is a gentle form of bodywork that balances tension patterns in the body, resulting in a state of deep relaxation. It has been called 'the homeopathy of bodywork' because it introduces small inputs to the body, stimulating the body to heal itself.

Bowen Therapy causes a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance - from 'fight or flight' to 'rest and repair'.

Bowen Therapy results in the relief of many specific injuries and other health problems, both acute and chronic.

There are very few situations in which Bowen Therapy is contraindicated, so it's appropriate to use for people of all ages and in all degrees of health.   

History of Bowen Therapy

Bowen Therapy was developed by Tom Bowen in Australia in the late 1950s. He was a factory worker who loved sports. He hung around the local 'football' team and learned how to treat injuries by watching the team massage therapists. Bowen developed his own technique by constant experimentation. He said that his work was 'a gift from God'.

Bowen began to see patients in 1957. He soon quit his day job and opened a clinic. A 1975 Victorian government inquiry into alternative health care professionals found that Bowen was giving more than 13,000 treatments per year, with an 85% success rate! Most people needed only 1-3 treatments to resolve their original complaints, so Bowen was probably seeing more than 5,000 individual patients per year!

Tom Bowen taught his method to only six students before his death in 1982. Oswald (Ossie) Rentsch - a massage therapist - was one of those six students. Ossie documented Bowen's work and began to teach the technique after Bowen's death. Ossie is now head of the Bowen Therapy organization, which has more than 15,000 practitioners in 23 countries.  

What Happens During a Session?

The client wears light, comfortable clothing that the Bowen Therapy practitioner can work through. Usually the client lies on a massage table or bed, but (s)he can also sit in a chair. The Bowen Therapy practitioner performs series of 'moves' that are gentle, but purposeful. 

During each Bowen Therapy move, the practitioner will:

  • Position their fingers or thumbs on a specific muscle, tendon, ligament, or nerve.
  • 'Take slack' by pulling or pushing the skin towards the edge of the structure.
  • 'Challenge' the structure by pressing up against it.
  • Allow their fingers or thumbs to 'roll' across the structure.

After each set of moves, the practitioner leaves the room to allow the client's body to process the work.

A Bowen Therapy session generally lasts 45-60 minutes.

After a Bowen Therapy Session

The client should follow the3 Ws:

Water- Drink plenty of water to assist in the elimination of toxins.

Walk - Gentle walking for 20-30 minutes each day helps the body integrate the changes begun during the Bowen Therapy session.

Wait - The body may continue processing changes up to 10 days after a Bowen Therapy session. Do not have any other type of bodywork for at least 5 days.

How Many Sessions are Required?

Many conditions resolve themselves after 1-3 Bowen Therapy sessions. The first session focuses on balancing the body and seeing how the body responds to Bowen Therapy. Subsequent sessions introduce more specific procedures, if necessary. It's best to schedule sessions 1 and 2 at the same time, about 7 days apart.

Conditions Helped by Bowen Therapy

Some of the conditions that may be helped by Bowen Therapy:

  • Back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Hip, knee, ankle, and foot problems
  • Groin pain, pelvic tilt and uneven leg length
  • Neck and shoulder problems, including 'frozen shoulder'
  • Scoliosis
  • Stress
  • Migraines and other types of headaches
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Facial paralysis/Bell's palsy
  • Digestive and bowel problems
  • Gynecological problems, including infertility
  • Respiratory problems
  • Earache
  • TMJ problems
  • Sinus problems, hay fever, and allergies
  • Side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow
  • Sports and other traumatic injuries

More About Bowen Therapy ...

For more information about Bowen Therapy, visit the official Bowen Therapy website:

Article on Bowen Therapy in Living & Being magazine, published by the Poughkeepsie Journal (December 2009) - "Deep therapy with a LIGHT touch":