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
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Treatment time can vary from person to person depending on what they need. However, the first session is generally about an hour, while the subsequent treatments are 45-60 minutes.
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
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.