Developed in the 1960s and 1970s by an Australian by the name of Tom Bowen, this method initially generated great enthusiasm and various training programmes were organised. There are now several schools in many countries, all offering more or less similar trainings. Unfortunately, "clans" have formed, each claiming their teaching to be the original one or being the only ones in line with what Tom Bowen was doing.
But that's the problem: Tom Bowen is no longer there and he could never say who, amongst the six people who learned with him, was closest to his work. We must realise that each school has its own interpretation of what Bowen was doing and that none has "the truth".
So, what is the truth? (a very popular concept these days)
First, we must understand that if this method has aroused so much enthusiasm, and that so many schools have formed and that competition has developed so rapidly between them, it is because of its effectiveness first and second, because of its (seemingly) simplicity to be learned and taught. Let me explain.
Bowen is tremendously effective. This is the method that will surprise you the most : unexpected results very often occur. Like what? Of course, with anything that is related to muscle and joint pain, recent or chronic, Bowen can make a difference. But where the method is most surprising, it is in cases where the patient also seems to have a more general condition of fatigue, stress, anxiety, digestive disorders, sleep disorders, etc. Although we cannot formally link manual therapy treatments with the improvement of a chronic disease, when we see patients coming back happy and relieved, we continue with this method. Bowen was what changed the lives of thousands, probably tens of thousands of patients.
The simplicity of the method: only in appearance !!!! Bowen is not simple at all. Of course, if physiology is not taken into account, then yes, it is simple. We then say that Bowen is energetic and that you have to trust the technique. But staying so far away from science is, in my opinion, the reason why Bowen is not practised as much as it should, especially by the professionals of manual therapy. These practitioners would really benefit from taking an interest in Bowen and learning it... at the right schools.
I sincerely believe that the neurophysiological foundations underlying the method (all methods) need to be studied much more thoroughly. This was my motivation to complete the six years of osteopathy studies. I got a lot of good out of it (not too much in neurophysiology) but above all a self-confidence that allowed me to go further, outside the framework of the training itself. In order to teach, I have to keep on learning, researching and studying. It's not easy being a manual therapy teacher. Not at all.
The truth? I don't think that Tom Bowen could have explained the physiology behind his method. I think he was a very good observer, that he probably understood that he had to address the nervous system, which needed time.
Tom Bowen left us an extraordinary method, it is up to us to make sure that it acquires its badge of honour.