Myth #5 - Will the real Bowen technique please stand up?
In honour of Tom Bowen’s 100th birthday on 18 April, today’s blog takes a look at Tom Bowen’s legacy.
Bowen therapy is named after Tom Bowen, the man who ‘created’ the technique. While Mr Bowen never taught anyone what he did, he did allow a handful of men to watch him in his clinic for a number of years as he treated hundreds of clients. Mr Bowen seems to have taken aspects from a number of different modalities but overall he was self taught in his healing technique now known worldwide as Bowen.
All of the men who shadowed Mr Bowen in his clinic took away their own interpretation of his work. They translated what they saw into their own language. That’s what we do, as humans. Ask six people to describe the same scene and you’ll get six different answers. Is one description more right than another? One perspective more valid? My answer would be no. We all interpret our own reality.
It’s not surprising that it’s no different with Bowen. Each of those men have their own interpretation of Tom Bowen’s technique. We need to start working with that and seeing it as a positive for this amazing healing modality.
The Bowen world is divided. There are strong factions within the community. This school believes that; and that one believes this. One school believes they are the real Bowen technique while another school believes they are more in tune with how Bowen worked. And here’s another man claiming his technique is more true to Bowen and on it goes. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? For me, it’s more: Who cares? Certainly our clients don’t care. They just want to feel better. And that’s what we should be focusing on. How to support and grow this technique for the health and benefit of our clients.
Politics are generally divisive and that’s no good for anyone. Especially the client. If a practitioner is worried that they are doing Bowen wrong or aren’t being true to their original teacher or teachings then ultimately it’s the client who suffers. Let’s agree to disagree on who thinks they are the only ones teaching the real Bowen therapy and get on with helping humanity, shall we?
I am Bowtech trained which is, admittedly, quite prescriptive in its teachings. The beauty of this is that anyone can be taught the basics of this amazing technique. The simplest of moves can result in the most profound results and this can be achieved by a body worker as easily as a car mechanic, accountant or astronaut. Bowtech teaching brought Bowen to the world in an easily teachable and repeatable form. Bowen therapy would unlikely be a known technique throughout the world today if not for Bowtech teachers teaching Ossie Rentsch’s interpretation of Tom Bowen’s work.
Those who teach Bowen therapy offer their own interpretations of how Tom worked. They argue that Bowtech is far from how the man worked. And I believe that is most likely true. But how do you teach a technique that was created by a man who didn’t know how to explain what he did? Tom Bowen wasn’t a teacher. He was a healer. The world is just lucky that Mr Bowen allowed those few men to watch him so they could further his technique and results. It has been said that Tom was very gifted at reading bodies. He worked intuitively to shift unhelpful patterns in clients. He worked quickly and efficiently. It would also appear he worked without ego. Just saying.
The thing is, though, who cares whose interpretation of Bowen therapy is the ‘right’ one? All the infighting takes away from the focus of sharing Bowen with the world.
I don’t think we are honouring the man by denigrating those teachers of Bowtech. While I am proud to be Bowtech trained, I am also grateful to other names in the field who bring their own interpretation to the game. I love the different perspectives they bring to the Bowen table. They encourage thinking outside the prescriptive teachings of Bowtech. They share their interpretations and like anything - it’s up to us, as practitioners, to take on what resonates, question what confronts us and look to provide each and every client with the best Bowen therapy for their condition and situation.
I don’t think Tom Bowen had prescriptive sets of moves he used. I think he assessed the body and applied the least amount of moves needed to get the best job done. One of the things everyone in the Bowen community agrees on is the ability of Bowen to heal profoundly and wholistically. This is what we need to keep as our focus - making a consolidated effort to work together to continue sharing Tom Bowen’s legacy with the world. We believe in what we do because we see results time after time. We see the quality of life in those we treat increase as their pain and dysfunction decrease. What a gift! Thank you, Tom Bowen. And Happy Birthday.
More about me and what I offer at www.balancingacttherapies.com Appointments available on the Coffs Coast. Give me a ring on 0426 241 435. Thanks for listening. I’m off now to bake Mr Bowen a cake…