By John Wilks

Background to The Bowen Technique

Developed in the 1950’s by the late Tom Bowen in Geelong, Australia, The Bowen Technique is a gentle but very dynamic therapy. It empowers the body’s own healing resources, achieving balance and harmony, frequently resulting in fast and lasting relief from pain and discomfort. The technique is considered safe to use on anyone from newborns to the elderly, with any condition from sports injuries to chronic or organic complaints.

A treatment comprises sequences of small gentle moves, each at specific sites on the body. There is no forceful manipulation, just a light cross-fibre manoeuvring of a muscle, tendon or ligament, pleasant to the recipient. The Bowen Technique taps into the body’s natural feedback system that monitors the state of each muscle.
As well as releasing any tension within the muscles, the moves also work on energy blocks (accumulated by injury, tension or disease), allowing increased energy flow and hence healing ability. Treatments can be performed through light clothing, and substantial relief is frequently experienced after the first 1 or 2 sessions

Symptoms that may respond well to The Bowen Technique include:

Sports injuries, Stress & Tension symptoms, Back pain and Sciatica, RSI & Tennis Elbow, Neck & Shoulder problems, Knee & Ankle problems, Hayfever, Menstrual irregularities, Migraines & Headaches, Chronic fatigue.

A Case Study

Jane (not her real name), a 25 year old nurse, attended the clinic presenting with chronic lower back pain that had started after a road traffic accident 7 years previously. She was suffering from numbness in her right hip and leg, severe period pain and a severe pain in the left kidney area of her back.

She was able to attribute these symptoms to a restricted sacro-iliac joint on her left side and general compression through the lower lumbar area following visits to various consultants and x-ray tests. On assessment, I found that there was a severe rotational pattern of the sacrum in relation to the pelvis which was reflected in a pull through the dural membranes from the coccyx to the lower lumbar spine.

The client had come on recommendation of a friend and knew very little about the Bowen Technique. She was therefore somewhat surprised that a treatment so light could be in any way effective, given her medical training. I told her that the treatment tends to release held muscle tissue and can result in stiffness for a few hours as toxins get released from the tissues and work themselves through the lymphatic system. I therefore advised her, as I do with all my clients, to drink plenty of water and to try to keep moving during the day. Although she was somewhat sceptical at this, she agreed to come again next week to continue treatment.

The following week she returned, highly apologetic for her scepticism. She had felt extremely stiff the evening of the first treatment, but by the following morning the stiffness had dissipated. She also said that she felt generally more mobile and that the pain in her back was considerably improved. She was still left with the pain in her left kidney area. After checking that she wasn’t suffering from any kidney infection, I proceeded to address the area using specific Bowen techniques. At the end of the session I also suggested various gentle exercises that might help her and made sure that she was lifting correctly in her work.

During the next 2 treatments she made steady progress and by the 4th session (probably the average number of sessions for most Bowen treatments), the kidney pain had gone, her lower back and sacrum area were much more mobile and pain-free and her periods were much less heavy and painful.

This client now returns from time to time when she has suffered a specific injury and is interested in learning the technique herself to use on her patients.

[boxibt style=”success”]About the Author


John studied massage with the West London School of Therapeutic Massage and reflexology with the International Institute of Reflexology after a career in music teaching and a lifelong interest in bodywork. After studying music at Balliol College, Oxford where he was an instrumental scholar, he went on to teach music in London and Dorset at the same time developing a strong interest in body-orientated psychotherapy and meditation. He helped set up a thriving meditation centre in South London in the 1970’s.

He learnt the Bowen Technique in 1995, and works at several clinics in south Somerset and north Dorset, including a GP’s practice in Yeovil and the Middlemarsh clinic in Poundbury. He teaches the Bowen Technique as an accredited instructor for the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia both in the UK and abroad.

He is a registered Craniosacral therapist, having studied at the Karuna Institute with Franklyn Sills and is chairman of both the Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK and the Bowen Association UK. He is actively involved with the Foundation for Integrated Medicine to establish National Occupational Standards for Craniosacral Therapy and is chairman of the Cranial Forum which is the working body set up in 1999 to represent all the various cranial and Craniosacral groups in the UK. He is also an advisor to the European Craniosacral Association.

As a hobby, he performs regularly as a flautist in the South-West, and is an Associate of the Royal College of Music. He designed and maintains various websites and is involved in several ventures for promoting Complementary therapies on the internet. He is involved in a number of charitable projects organising therapeutic work overseas, including Bosnia.

For further information, please contact John Wilks on 01963 220615 or fax 01963 220176 or email

[boxibt style=”gray”]Training in the Bowen Technique

Mr Tom Bowen devoted a lifetime to developing his gentle and innovative approach. In 1974, he invited Oswald Rentsch and his wife Elaine to study with him and document his work. Their interpretation was verified by him as being a true representation of the original technique, and it is this that is now widely taught and practised throughout the world.

Ossie and Elaine began teaching the technique in 1986 after many years of their own clinical experience and in 1987 they founded the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia to which the Bowen Association is affiliated. Courses are held throughout the UK by accredited instructors. The therapy is taught as an introduction to bodywork for the non-professional and also as an ideal adjunct for the professional therapist.

For Further information visit the website[/boxibt]