• About Tom Bowen
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About Tom Bowen
Tom Bowen just knew what to do when people came to see him. He simply had that gift. He grew up in Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and left school at the age of 14 in order to supplement the family income. At first he delivered milk, later he became a carpenter, working at the Cement Works in Geelong.
There people soon found out that he just knew what to do when someone was injured or hurt. They would call for Tom.
I believe that he also treated hurt and injured animals very successfully.
Tom Bowen died in 1982 at the age of 66. He might be dead now, but he still leaves a mark.
Thomas A Bowen
1916 – 1982
Illustration Copyright: Mark Littler
Where did he get it from?
I don’t know for certain, but I imagine he got it from the same source where Mozart got his music. He had no medical background, but he helped so many people. As word got around, people wanted to see him after his shift at the Cement Works. So he came home, had a wash, had dinner and then treated people at his home. After a while he became quite busy in this way and his family saw less and less of him, so that a friend, Renée Horwood, suggested to him to use her front room as a clinic and then, some time later, she encouraged him to give up his day-job at the Cement Works and treat people full-time. Renée Horwood became Tom Bowen’s assistant of many years.
He had a knack for treating people and the treatments didn’t take long. Between the moves which he performed, he allowed Waiting Periods, during which the patient just lay on the treatment table. (You may remember how Suzanne Baker put it: The Waiting Periods “allow time for the impact of the Moves to make changes to the underlying structures.”)
During those Waiting Periods he could go and see another patient before returning to make more Moves. That way he could treat two or three people at once. After he had set up his extended clinic, he could treat four or even five people at the same time! In his hey-day, he saw up to one hundred patients a day!!!
A very busy practice
100 patients a day means that he was extremely busy – and it also means that there was little time for a "holistic approach" in the way we are used to it today. I think you would have been in and out in a flash! He treated many people without charge: children, disabled or chronically ill people were treated for free. Footballers from the Geelong clubs came in after their matches
Tom's First Clinic
Photography: © Vince Taranto
on a Saturday and he did not finish until the last one had left no charge.
He also treated prisoners in the Geelong Prison regularly and, as Libby Gordon wrote: “...he was awarded a medal from the Victorian Police Board ‘In appreciation for all your help – Geelong Crime Car Squad’ – one of the first people to ever receive this recognition."
A man of few words
Tom Bowen didn’t talk a lot. I think he was just too busy helping people and on top of that he also was hard of hearing. That would have made a conversation difficult at the best of times – let alone when the patient was lying on the treatment table, facing down! Yes, he did have a hearing aid, but very often he had it switched off.
I suppose he simply wanted to help as many people as possible. Tom Bowen appeared to be somewhat gruff towards his patients.
I have met a number of people who have been treated by him and they all said that he was not a man of many words.
Perhaps conversation was just too much hard work when you can’t hear properly and your main aim
is to get people better – not talk!
Tom Bowen Memorial,
opposite his first clinic
in Autumn Street, Geelong
Photography: © Vince Taranto
It is conceivable, that it was partly due to the fact that he did not talk much, that – after he had died at the age of 66 – all sorts of rumours and half-true or untrue stories began to circulate. His children became quite upset by this. When Libby Gordon and Brian Smart (ex-Presidents of the BTAV) eventually wrote down what they knew about Tom Bowen.
His children approved of their versions. These accounts of Tom Bowen do not deal with the treatment method, but with Tom Bowen, the man. “The Real Story” and “A Glimpse of Tom Bowen” were published at the time by the Bowen Therapists Federation of Australia as a booklet (no longer available).
Since Tom Bowen is no longer alive to tell his story, I don’t want to help spread any more rumours, but I suppose that these two accounts are
as close to “the horse’s mouth” as we can get it and they may well form the basis on which more recent publications are based.
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