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Posted by Kathryn Kemp, Jan 19 2012 6:50PM

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Query re Bowen Technique

I met a lady today who has been receiving Bowen weekly for the last 10 years! She has poor posture, chronic muscle tension and suffers regularly with nasty headaches. Q1: is there a need for regular visits over such a long period of time? Q2: why does she have poor posture, chronic muscle tension and headaches.? Should Bowen address these types of complaints.?
Amanda Clegg
Jan 19 2012 7:36PM
hm, my instinct tells me she may have been wasting her money as it's clearly not helping the postural issues. However, it may be helping on an emotional level? What were her expectations?

As a bodyworker |I do feel that you need to get hands-on with muscles etc. in order to make any sort of difference. However, the client has also got some obligation to help themselves in terns of exercises, maintining postural alignment, ergonomic adjustments (driving position, chairs, beds etc. ) as well as lifestyle changes if stress si a factor.

would be interested to hear more about it!
Kathryn Kemp
Jan 19 2012 8:01PM
Hi, I picked up on a possible emotional need - she is on some heavy medication for depression. I get the impression there is more to this. What kind of duty do we, as therapists, have in these kinds of situations.? I wouldn't want to stand on anyone's toes but she definitely needs some physical therapy. Her current therapist has told her not to see anyone else though.

Kathryn Kemp
Jan 19 2012 8:02PM
PS: what I'd call a 'vulnerable' client.
Nicki Lee
Jan 19 2012 8:47PM
Wow, this is a really hard one! Glad I'm not you :)

Seriously though, it's always awkward at best when you suspect someone is getting the wrong treatment. Or being taken advantage of - I've heard of more than one person having chiropractic twice a week for weeks without getting better (I'm not picking on chiros here, I know there are many good, effective and ethical practitioners, but there are some bad apples in every barrel). When they are also my client I have to tread carefully, and make broad statements about them doing what seems right for themselves. Some people are having doubts, but others just repeat the chiro has said this is what they 'have to do' and it does worry me.

But it is ethically tricky - we're not supposed to denigrate other practitioners, and to be scrupulously fair, I don't know exactly what treatment someone may have had, what the other practioner found and what exactly they've said, as it comes through the client's filter. However what do you do when you truly believe someone is being taken advantage of. Or in this case, when after 10 years you'd think they'd be getting better.

A few things in this case, though. I'm making a lot of assumptions here, so could be wrong. But it sounds like this person isn't your client so you probably didn't get a full case history. And Amanda is absolutely correct; they may be a bit of a mess but possibly don't do anything else to help themselves re exercise, etc. I've had clients that have been coming very regularly (a couple weekly) for nearly ten years, however they enjoy the treatment and it does help keep at bay all the postural issues that arise from desking 9-10 hours per day. I give advice which is sometimes followed, but often not. Massage is a bit different than Bowen, possibly, because it can be enjoyable and give benefits to everyone not just those suffering. I don't know enough about Bowen to say if it's the same.

I'm really glad you brought this up, though, because it's just the kind of issue that arises occasionally, and a very hard one to answer. Would love to see others' thoughts as well.
Amanda Clegg
Jan 19 2012 11:44PM
Interestign that the bowen person has told her not to see anyone else - that to me doesn't sound ethical. i've not heard anything about treatments 'clashing' with each other, apart from homeopathy and some essential aromatherapy oils. Any Bowen people out there? can you comment?

|My view, as part of a group of therapists of different disciplines, is that you do what is right for the client and this may mean cross-referring if you feel there are issues better addressed by a different approach - eg physio and I cross refer a lot, as does the podiatrist in our group. I also cross-=refer to the nutritionist and the homeopath. Doesn't do your karma any harm either :)
Kathryn Kemp
Jan 20 2012 10:25AM
My main concern is the client who is asking me for some relief from the physical problems she has. I did suggest I should write to the Bowen therapist to advise the client is seeking massage therapy - but the client wasn't happy, she "didn't want to upset her". I'd like to take her on as a client, as she wants me to. I get the impression that the client recognises Bowen isn't for her and wants to leave but feels awkward in doing so. Hence the 'don't want to upset her'. From our initial chat, I sense she has no idea how to 'help herself' and needs a postural assessment and advice.

My dilemma is do I treat her while she is having Bowen? I don't know anything about Bowen I'm afraid.

Nicki Lee
Jan 20 2012 12:02PM
Your client has really answered your dilemma by asking for treatment. I'm not aware of anything in Bowen that would affect what you do, so your client should be safe. From your perspective that should be enough, I would think. I would generally want to liase in some way if receiving medical treatment, or having another treatment for an acute problem, but this seems more like someone wanting to try something else and move away from their current treatment. I would suggest that you can do this ethically.
Kathryn Kemp
Jan 20 2012 12:36PM
Thanks :-)
Angelina Kelly
Jan 20 2012 3:02PM
Hi Kathryn,

In my experience people on anti-depressants are the hardest people to treat because they are so desperate and therefore so vulnerable and therefore so easy to abuse.

If your client has asked you for help I suggest you give it and let her decide which therapies she wishes to pursue and which to drop (that way you are in no way responsible). Also remind her to trust her own instinct in spite of what she has been told by others, that way she begins to take control of what happens next and that empowers her which then puts her into a more positive frame of mind. From there healing will take place in its own time and way.

Hope this helps.

Kathryn Kemp
Jan 20 2012 3:04PM
Thanks ;-)
Tricia Turner
Jan 20 2012 3:44PM
I am a Bowen Practitioner and Massage therapist (albeit it not at the same time !!)

An interesting case study. You are quite right the symptoms presented by the client are all specific issues that can be addressed by the Bowen Therapy. However, I would agree with your comments that there seems to be an emotional dependency by the client to have her "Bowen" fix every week. The Bowen treatments over a period of 10 years does seem excessive, although it is recommended to have a "Bowen MOT" approx every 3 months or so, or depending when the client feels the need. It can be relaxing complementary therapy (as with many) and can take away the stresses of the day, leaving the client relaxed. However, with regards to the postural problems there may be other underlying physical issues that no amount of Bowen Therapy, or indeed other therapies would address. Again I would agree with comments made that there has to be a degree of self help by the client to practice exercises to strengthen the relevant muscles to improve and maintain a better posture. Also there may be other influences in the clients life that are not helping her posture, for example her job or caring for a child or elderly person ?? As a general rule we say do not mix modalities, but if there is a space of 7 - 10 days between the Bowen treatment then the alternative therapy should not interfere with the Bowen work.

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