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Bowen Technique

The Bowen Technique (or Bowen Therapy) is a gentle, unique and very effective ‘hands on’ remedial therapy, which stimulates the body to rebalance itself, and promotes healing, pain relief and recovery of energy.  It is a holistic therapy, which depends on the ability of the body to heal itself if given the opportunity to do so.


What can it help?

Bowen is suitable for almost all ages and states of health from babies to the elderly, from pregnant women to rugby players.

It is a holistic therapy which aims to help the individual ‘without reference to named disease’.  However people commonly seek help with a wide range of symptoms and frequently reported benefits include

  • Physical relaxation of muscles and soft tissue
  • Promotion of general relaxation and stress management
  • Help with reduction of pain and recovery from injury
  • Improvement in many symptoms especially musculoskeletal problems (including back pain, neck and shoulder pain, sciatica), immune system, respiratory, nervous and digestive issues

Children and even small babies respond especially well to Bowen treatment and it is also ideal to keep the body comfortable and balanced during pregnancy.

How does Bowen work?

Bowen treatment consists of a series of 'rolling' type moves over muscle, tendon and other soft tissue. During the treatment there are breaks that allow the body to absorb and respond to the work. There is no hard tissue adjustment or manipulation, no massage, no deep or prolonged pressure.

The body starts the process of self-repair during a Bowen session. The specific, gentle "moves" send signals to the body to begin the healing process.  They stimulate the nervous system, release stored energy and communicate throughout the body via the connective tissue net in a way that demands a response.  It is in this response that re-adjustment begins and the rests allow the body to integrate the new information. Tissues re-align, muscles relax, fluids circulate better, organ systems balance.

Bowen Therapy works in a subtle way over time with the treatment session initiating a cascade of beneficial changes.  Most people feel relaxation benefits immediately following the first session with readjustment continuing over the next few days.

The body assimilates the changes at the pace it is able to in each individual. It also ‘decides’ which changes to make and many people notice improvements in other areas besides that for which they have sought help. Both physical and emotional restrictions can be released – Bowen is a truly holistic therapy.

What is involved in a Bowen treatment?

A Bowen session usually lasts about an hour with 35-50 minutes spent on the treatment itself.  This includes the breaks when the therapist will normally leave the room.  This gives you an opportunity to rest quietly whilst your body takes on the work. It also enables the therapist to assess any changes and respond accordingly.

The first appointment will involve a consultation to discover the history of your condition and any other health issues. You may be given a visual assessment especially if the problem is structural.

Treatment is normally given whilst you lie comfortably on a couch.  However if this is not possible (for instance, during late pregnancy) moves are easily adapted. You can be made comfortable with pillows or folded towels or treated in a sitting position.

Moves are most effective given directly on the skin but can be made over light, loose, non-slippery clothing if preferred.


Even long standing problems can resolve in 2-4 sessions though individual response varies and some people may need further appointments.  Initially the appointments are spaced a week apart as changes continue to develop 7-10 days after treatment.  Many people find that longer term benefits can be achieved by regular maintenance which you will be advised to do if appropriate.

For maximum benefit and so as not to overload the body it is recommended that no other physical therapy is undergone during the initial course of treatments.

Origins and development

Bowen Technique is named after its originator, Tom Bowen, who was born in Australia in 1916. With little formal education, he was an extraordinarily gifted and widely self-taught man who by the 1960's was running his own remedial therapy clinic. By the 1970's he was, on his own estimate, treating over 13,000 people a year, 88% of whom required only two or three treatments.

He died in 1982 and the methods that he developed have since flourished and spread worldwide, being brought to the UK in the 1990’s.  


The Bowen Technique practitioner is Claire Phillipson.




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