- What is The Bowen Technique?
- How does it work?
- How is it different from other therapies?
- Does Bowen work on meridians?
- Is Bowen a form of massage?
- How Many treatments will I need to have?
- What can it treat?
- Who offers treatment?
- Who can learn?
- Why are there different teaching groups & what's the difference?
- So do you teach something different?
- Why should I train with ECBS?
- Does ECBS teach advanced moves?
- Are there other ECBS workshops?
The Bowen Technique is a remedial therapy tool. That is, it is used by therapists mainly to help people who are in pain or discomfort for one reason or another. It is a gentle therapy that works over the soft tissue of the client and features lots of rests in between moves to allow the body to start working with the information. Developed by Tom Bowen, many valid forms of his work exist in the world today.
There have been many theories put forward in the past relating to why Bowen works and there are many people who, conversely,believe that we don't need to know. They may have a point but these days there is much more that we can understand and acceptance from the medical community and wider use of the technique by health professionals will come from a better understanding of what happens during a Bowen treatment. Recently the concept of the way in which the brain reacts to neural stimulus has been looked at in more detail and is the subject of ongoing research by ECBS.
The brain emits in the region of 600,000 signals per second, all of which both send out signals and in turn receive information from the body. A muscular movement for example begins from the primary motor cortex at the front of the brain and is sent, via the spinal cord, to the arm or leg where it is translated into movement. In order to gauge this, however, the brain needs to receive a signal telling it what is happening and what to do next and this it does via the parietal lobe of the brain.
The effect is a kind of looping circuit travelling at massive speeds, sending and receiving information. A Bowen move which is a series of gentle rolling moves, followed by breaks at certain intervals, interferes with this signal and creates another set of parameters for the brain to examine. Once the brain starts to reorder the signals it is also able to reinterpret the information coming from other areas, an example of why Bowen will often set off reactions in areas that haven't been treated.
An example of this kind of signalling comes from Dr V. S. Ramachandran, a neurologist in the USA. In his work with amputees who suffer from phantom pains, he came across one man who was experiencing a clenching sensation in his amputated hand. By using a mirror to reflect the intact hand, the looping signal from the brain that was creating pain, was changed, as the brain 'saw' two hands and stopped the "clench" signal to the amputated hand.
Research is continuing in this area but explains a lot of the peculiarities surrounding Bowen, especially the serendipity of the treatment, whereby areas not treated are often affected by Bowen.
All these therapies are excellent therapies, but Bowen differs in several respects. Osteopaths and chiropractors often use adjustments or 'cracks' to realign the structure of the body. They will make a diagnosis of the patient and treat the area of concern. With Bowen therapy the approach is rather different. The therapist will take a case history but the treatment does not set out to treat specific conditions or ailments. Instead, the body is treated as a whole unit, without referral to named disease. For instance if someone came to a Bowen therapist with cancer, we would not claim to be able to help the cancer or even to treat it. Instead we are trying to help the person.
While one can see that there are points that are on or very close to acupuncture points, this is not the approach that we teach. Many practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine comment on the moves and their relationship to meridian points but there is nothing consistent enough to draw comparisons. Tom Bowen drew much of his knowledge from books and an understanding of meridian points seems quite probable.
Is Bowen a form of massage?
No, not really. The treatment can be performed through light clothing and no oils or prolonged pressure is used. Also, there is no rubbing or friction in the move, which uses the movement of skin to effect a rolling type of action over the muscle.
There are no guarantees here because everyone responds differently but, on average, the number of treatments required for, say, a stiff neck or back is around three. Some problems need more treatments and some even fewer, but what won't happen is that you will be required to have a long course of treatment, only to find that it hasn't helped. Although there are never any promises, you should in most cases start to see change fairly quickly.
Although we say that we do not treat specific conditions, we know that many common complaints are helped by the Bowen Technique's holistic approach. To read some case histories click here There is no condition for which Bowen therapists would not offer treatment. Even in very serious or acute conditions, where an injury has just occurred, Bowen can be used to very good effect. As well as bad backs and necks, Bowen also is extremely effective on more complex or organic problems such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and stress.
Who offers treatment?
There are hundreds of therapists around the UK and Europe who offer treatment. Some of these are people are experienced in other forms of treatment such as reflexology, aromatherapy, sports injury or massage. In addition there are a number of chiropractors, chartered physiotherapists, osteopaths, GPs and surgeons who have learned and practise the technique. Bowen is not limited to health professionals however and many people come to learn Bowen in order to be able to effectively help family and friends.
Yes. A basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology (A&P) would be helpful but there is nothing to stop anyone from learning the technique. If you wanted to practise professionally then you would be required to extend your studies and gain a recognised qualification in A&P and a first aid certificate. In addition you would need to be fully insured. ECBS can help you with all of these.
Before 1992 there were only two people in the UK who practised The Bowen Technique and no-one teaching it. In 1994 Julian Baker and The Bowen Technique were featured in an article in the Daily Mail which effectively launched Bowen in the UK. Julian and his business partner Louise Atwill responded to the five thousand letters that flooded in over the next six weeks. As a result of their efforts and in partnership with Ossie and Elaine Rentsch, the technique became hugely successful in a very short space of time.
In 1998 Julian and Louise were keen to increase the standards and re-organise the training of the Technique in the UK. Ossie and Elaine were seemingly unhappy with these changes but didn't offer any alternatives or suggestions. Instead they broke away and formed another organisation, something which Julian and Louise had worked hard to prevent and had dearly hoped would not happen. After legal action from the Rentsches, Julian and Louise changed the name of their organisation to the European College of Bowen Studies (ECBS). They also set up and handed over BTER (now BTPA), a therapists' registration organisation entirely separate from ECBS.
Ossie and Elaine Rentsch make claims as to the originality of their work, calling it the 'original' Bowen Technique. This is, of course, no more possible than claiming to have 'original' water. The Bowen Technique is not a series of procedures but a system of bodywork. Tom Bowen told the six men he taught that this was only 10% of what was possible; the rest was up to them to find. Tom's students spent one morning a week with him and rarely if ever met each other. Each saw a snap-shot of Tom's work and adapted it according to their own training and experience.
The work taught by Bowtech and indeed ECBS is this snap-shot but is by no means the entire technique or even close to it. The possibilities for experimentation within Bowen are endless and aren't limited to a set of original procedures or even advanced procedures as in reality there is no such thing as either of these. Ossie and Elaine have been big personalities in the field for many years and there can be little doubt that a debt is owed them for bringing the work to the attention of the public but it is sad that there has been so much dissent around such an amazing set of principles.
As a set of three words, The Bowen Technique has no title and can be taught by anyone who decides overnight to become a teacher, which indeed some people teaching in the UK have done in the past. It is for this reason that the ECBS teacher training programme was established. The programme takes trainee teachers through several hundred hours of training and supervised teaching to create a consistency, standard and level of teacher and student support that is unequalled in the world of Bowen.
There are several people who having trained in the technique, have set themselves up as teachers with several of them changing the name of their techniques but referring to it as Advanced Bowen. Again there is nothing to stop people from doing this and we wish them luck, our major concern being maintaining and improving the standards that we have set.
Not at all. Most of the teachers in other Bowen organisations (including Jock Ruddock, John Wilks, Michael Burgess, Kenny Kilmurray, Jill Norfolk, Alastair McLoughlin and Rick Minnery,) were all originally taught by Julian Baker after 1994. The work up to advanced level is virtually identical in every way and very little has been changed, except the method of training and notes. The philosophy, however, is somewhat different and the major way in which ECBS differs from other schools is the method of training, the modular system and the flexibility we provide, allowing students greater choice.
That said we do offer much more in the way of detailed explanation and understanding than many other organisations, mainly due to our extensive work with primary health care professionals and researchers.
ECBS is Europe's most established and structured Bowen training school, providing constant support and ongoing post graduate training to the highest standard. Our teachers will all be using the most up-to-date software and state of the art presentation materials as part of their training. 3D graphics and clear anatomical displays will illustrate all the procedures and make the understanding of the Technique easier.
In other training organisations, a large amount of work is covered in four days, with subsequent individual days to catch up. Julian Baker is Europe's most experienced Bowen teacher and as such has devised a more user-friendly method of training. The first four days cover much less work and the subsequent two day review then re-visits the initial four days' work. The next level adds on the more energetic procedures and another two day review revises all the work covered in the previous modules. The final practical and written examination brings together all the work and sets the student up for success as a qualified practitioner. We believe that this design gives an exceptionally high standard of learning without pressure.
ECBS trains all its teachers thoroughly before allowing them to teach, believing that simply being a passable practitioner does not make one qualified to teach. This teacher training approach is unique to ECBS and takes several hundred hours of very comprehensive course work. All teachers are fully insured and ECBS carries a cancellation insurance scheme, ensuring that if you have to cancel at the last minute due to an emergency, your full fees will be redeemable from the insurance company.
In addition the notes used are very user-friendly. At Part Three, the student is given a unique step-by-step photographic guide. With over 100 colour photographs, the procedures taught are all featured, showing the position of the therapist, the direction of the moves and the placement of the therapist's hands. For a preview of the photo guide, (minus directional arrows) click here
The ECBS office is staffed five days per week to answer your calls and, for technical questions, all ECBS teachers are available either on the phone or by e-mail. Support for students is a key element of the ECBS programme and is one that draws a lot of comments from students. ECBS is THE Bowen training organisation in Europe and continues to lead the way in Bowen training.
Yes we do, and this is where the work gets very exciting. We teach what we consider to be the most complete approach to Bowen and soft tissue therapy anywhere in the world. It has been claimed in the past that Tom Bowen's work is complete and needs no adding to. This to some people is sadly true, but at ECBS we believe this is a very limiting approach as Tom Bowen had only really just started to explore the principles of what he had discovered.
Julian Baker believes that there is much more to advanced work than just more procedures and, although dozens of new procedures are covered, we set out to develop the practitioner within the principles of the Technique to discover how these procedures are reached. Tom Bowen himself said that he was demonstrating only 10% of what he knew and clearly the work had only just begun when he died, with the potential for growth and understanding huge. The principles of The Bowen Technique allow for literally millions of approaches. Bowen himself did not use a systematic approach but was able to 'see' what moves he needed to make and where. ECBS introduces these elements of 'body reading' and an approach using anatomical deduction and intuitive responses into the advanced work.
Over one hundred pages of further procedures are now available which highlight examples of this approach.
ECBS teachers themselves are a very talented bunch with many skills in the field of therapy and these are extended into further workshops available to all ECBS trained therapists.
* Practitioner Development workshops
* Anatomy of Bowen - Why Bowen works
* Shoulder Anatomy, Injury and Treatment
* The Structure of the Pelvis and Treatment
* Bowen in Sports Injuries
* Bowen and Respiration, the Role of the Diaphragm
* Bowen for Mother and Baby
* Specialist Anatomy Cadaver Days
* Cranial and Facial Bowen
* The Role of the Intuitive in Bowen
ECBS is constantly looking to extend and build on the range of courses available and to constantly widen the view of what The Bowen Technique can address.