Updated: Nov 12, 2021
One of the most commonly mentioned criticisms of Bowen therapy - from people who haven't had it explained to them, that is - is that their therapist hardly did anything, and spent most of the time in the chair or even in another room. Some people thought the therapist was treating two people at once, and to be fair some do. I'm not one of them. I read one review which said 'The treatment consisted of the therapist touching me, then f*ing off to the next room and expecting something to happen by itself. Absolute rubbish.'
To someone used to massage or chiropractic, the breaks are going to seem odd. In Bowen however they're not only normal but essential. Bizarrely, that description is actually a pretty accurate one. The Bowen move is unique; it's what makes Bowen the therapy it is. It also has a unique effect on the body. Part of that uniqueness is that it takes a bit of time for it to work, and when it does it will effectively 'happen by itself'.
During a treatment you may find any of a number of things. You may experience pain as tender points are palpated. That pain will fade in a minute or two, but if the therapist does any more moves while the pain is there the body will resist them. Your tissues need time to recover from what's just happened before anything else happens to them. You may also feel your muscles releasing tension. Again, that will take time. It's also a very pleasant feeling that we don't want to interrupt. If another move is applied while that's happening, neither will be as effective. When I have my own treatments, sometimes I wish the therapist had left a bit longer between the moves.
Sometimes clients feel as though part of their body is floating away after a move has been applied. That's because the proprioceptors are resetting and the brain, unsure exactly what it's being told, is testing theories as to where that body part actually is. Again if another move is applied while that's going on, neither move will work as well as they should.
You may not consciously feel anything, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening. Any or all the above effects may be going on without you realising it consciously. Be assured that your body knows it's happening, even if it is concealing it from you.
As for not doing much, that could be true. Sometimes you don't need much, and sometimes your body won't tolerate it. Less is more with Bowen, and despite its deceptive gentleness, it's actually a very powerful treatment and can have a very profound effect on you. Sometimes that effect, although positive, isn't very nice to experience and I do after all want to make you feel better, not worse! So if you seem very sore, or you haven't had Bowen before, or there are other subtle indicators that I find too difficult to describe to put down here, I may not do very much work on you at all for one or two sessions. You should still feel much better as a result of what I do though, so you'll be getting value for money. You're paying for results, not the amount of time I spent with you or the number of moves I did. If we spent three hours together and I did every move I know, but you felt no better as a result, you wouldn't be very pleased.
Now let's come to the part where the therapist is in another room. At Magic Hands that doesn't happen. Bowtech therapists are trained to leave the room during breaks but Smart Bowen therapists are trained not to. There are a whole bunch of reasons to stay - most importantly the safety of you, the client, who could fall asleep or have a seizure or sit up too quickly and faint, all of which could result in your falling off the couch and injuring yourself. You may have some strange sensations that alarm you and you want to tell me about them. A pressing question may have occurred to you, which you could ask me if only I were still there. You might just want to talk - some people use their treatment as a chance to unburden themselves of issues they haven't got anyone else to talk to about. Whether you want to do any of that or not, I think it's rude to leave you and deny you the opportunity. I only have you there for an hour; the least I can do is to stick with you for that long! I don't have anywhere else to be, after all.
It's also a useful opportunity for me to to jot down some notes about what I've done, what issues I noticed in your body or that you told me about during the treatment, and what responses I've had to the work. If I wait until you've gone to do that I will definitely forget something, and that might be something really important.
There's no set limit to the length of the break. In training we were taught that a two minute break should be put in at key points in the treatment, but the breaks don't always have to be for the whole body; they can just be for the zone you're working in. If I've just done a lot of work on your shoulders and then move to your legs, I don't need to leave a complete break because your shoulders are getting one anyway. You may give a little involuntary movement, sigh, or visibly relax, which tells me you've had a long enough break. Sometimes it's almost instinctive. Or you might tell me you're feeling a sensation that means I want to wait until that sensation has faded before I do anything else, which might take a few seconds or several minutes.
Of course, if the treatment makes someone feel better then they're probably not going to complain that the therapist didn't do enough work, so it's a safe bet that those negative reviews came from people who didn't feel any benefit from the therapy. That's not because the therapy or the therapist were rubbish though. Some people's bodies don't like Bowen and it doesn't 'work' on them, which is just a sad fact. If there was a therapy that worked on every single client, that would be the only therapy there is. The fact that there are over 100 complementary therapies, not to mention traditional medicine, proves that's not the case.