Historical facts about “The Bowen Technique”

The history of Bowtech can be traced back to the 1950’s in the town of Geelong in Victoria/Australia, where Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916-1982) began developing his technique. Though he was a carpenter and had no previous formal training in any health related modality, he was very interested in finding a way to alleviate pain and suffering.

In his book “In Search of Tom Bowen” Col Murray states that “Tom Bowen claimed he started out in bodywork by observing others massaging sports people“. There is some evidence that he called himself an osteopath and that he learned how to perform certain moves and techniques from other gifted practitioners already in the 1920’s or 1930’s. These moves were later blended into what was to become the Bowen Technique. In his lifelong search for perfecting his method, great help was provided by his friend and secretary Rene Horwood.

One must have some insight into the times Tom Bowen started treating people, when national health care was non-existent. Tom Bowen and other manual therapists  provided affordable therapy when government support was not accessible, as Tom Bowen’s clients were usually average families, factory workers and farmers.

During the second half of his career, a government reform forced formerly unregulated therapists to register. Tom Bowen had to provide a detailed description of his modality before a Parliamentary Committee in 1973, as he had an extremely busy practice in his Geelong clinic, performing about 13,000 treatments a year. Considering treatments were seven days apart and many people only needed a few treatments, an amazing number of clients passed through the clinic and benefited from his technique. Besides that, Tom Bowen who was passionate about his work, also held free clinics for children, people with disabilities, and community service workers.

Among the therapists which were regularly witnessing Tom Bowen during his therapeutic work was Ossie Rentsch, who was the first one to put his observations down on paper and with the help of Rene Horwood produce the material being used in the teaching of the Bowen Technique as they named it to honour Tom Bowen. Ossie and his wife Elaine started utilizing Mr. Bowen’s methods in their clinic in Hamilton, Victoria in 1976 and commenced  teaching Bowtech in 1986 after Tom Bowen’s death. They founded the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia in 1987 and the teachings of their late mentor have spread to five continents, counting around 40.000 trained therapists and about 170 certified instructors.