Austin refers to his work as ‘complementary therapy’, not an ‘alternative’ as he considers what he does is ‘as well as’ and not ‘instead of’ mainstream medicine and/or a healthy lifestyle. Holistic therapy’s popularity is certainly growing, and has fast become the sought- after treatment in the UK.
The aim of Bowen, Austin tells us, is to approach the body as a whole, and remember that everything connects. The therapy consists of gentle, rolling motions on the skin or through light clothing on precise points of the body to effectively resolve long-standing problems that a GP might not be able to assist with. These movements are designed to stimulate the tissue and nerve pathways, creating a focus for the brain.
Austin was one of the first people on the South West to practice Bowen, and he explains that it works on something called ‘fascia’. “We are looking at the bag that holds the muscle. That is what fascia is. Every muscle fibre has an envelope of fascia around it and that is, in essence what makes us move. They have different receptors, and those receptors only respond to slow gentle pressure”.
“If I shout at you to sit down, you may well sit down but I may get a slap for being so rude! Whereas, if I politely ask you to please sit down, one could argue that I am getting the same result but without the kick back- you’re actually working with me”.
Austin explains that in principal, every cell in your body does that. “If I stimulate pain, you’re likely to tighten up. The theory behind Bowen is not to stimulate pain so the body can loosen up”.
This is why, what appear to be gentle therapies can sometimes outperform other types of therapies. It doesn’t make them better or worse, it simply means that your body is having a different reaction
Austin specialises in whiplash, frozen shoulder, migraines and back pain- this is because Bowen is particularly good at resolving those issues, and it’s considerably gentler than Osteopathy or chiropractic treatment. People of all ages can benefit, Austin’s youngest client was just 5 weeks old, and his oldest aged 97.
Since we last spoke, Austin has written his first book. “I was hoping to have it in my hands by this time. I started writing in February and it is the result of 7 years procrastination!” Named ‘The Offensive Health Book’, Austin says it serves to debunk a few myths and set the record straight with regards to a healthy lifestyle.
“Writing is a totally new avenue for me and I’m finding it very interesting. The hardest part is the last bit. Making sure it flows, ensuring it makes sense to non medics. My wife and I are both cross eyed from proof reading so much! It’s been a labour of love”.
“My book is directly related to Bowen due to the fact that it is general health education”. Austin tells us that the majority of his patients wouldn’t need to see him in the first place if they had a better grasp on their own general health.
The Offensive Health Book, Austin’s first written publication will be available via Amazon. Hard copies will also be available at his clinics and lectures
“Doctors have on average seven and a half minutes with each patient, whereas I have the privilege of an hour with each of my clients. There is an awful lot you can find out in an hour. A lot of what I do
is educating people. Bowen is a physical technique but we have to get behind the reason why someone comes to me in the first place”.
You have to help patients see the connection and join the dots between something that is going on in their life and their physical symptoms
“Everything is connected. The problem with mainstream medicine is that we’ve become so detached thinking that everything is separate, we think that somehow our psychology is separate to our emotions or from physical problems, and yet if you’re angry about something you might grit your teeth. You’ve converted an emotion into something physical. This then leads to a headache or earache if you carry that emotion for long enough. The same goes for anxiety; it is a literal gut feeling”.
Because of this, Austin stresses the importance of understanding that Bowen needs to be accompanied by a positive, healthy lifestyle for the best results. Simple lifestyle changes such as drinking enough water and keeping a food diary can really help to distinguish physical symptoms and their lifestyle connection.
There is no system in the human body that doesn’t rely on the nutrition you give it. You can’t have a bad diet and expect to feel well
In Bowen, there is the combination of time and treatment. “I could work on you one or three times in one week and it won’t make a difference”. Austin explains that once the body has the message it needs to repair, it literally needs time to do just that. “Don’t rely on me to fix you; Bowen is helping your body get stronger and stronger so you need me less and less”.
Austin tells us he is amazed that in his 15 years of experience, he is continuously expanding his knowledge. “You can learn the techniques, but knowing why you are doing that is what takes time. I have never stopped learning!”
As well as a Masters in Athletic Therapy, Austin also has a degree in Osteopathy. He tells us that this can help him to distinguish what a patient’s pain isn’t. “If someone comes to me after trying many therapies, I can gauge what they have already tried; knowing that hasn’t worked so I can approach it from a different angle”.
There is currently no charter for practicing Bowen, and Austin explains that you can only learn the therapy, and be insured and regulated by two colleges.
“Bowtech is based in Australia and The College of Bowen Studies is based in Durham in the UK. Paula Essen, who runs the UK college does a lot of work with the NHS which is interesting. She is also a sports therapist so I learnt a lot from her”.
In regards to the consultation process, Austin knows that Complementary therapy isn’t for everybody. “Of course I would love to say that Bowen fixes everything but it simply doesn’t. It’s amazing for certain things so for that reason I have to work out whether Bowen is right for the patient.
With any therapy, you should be seeing improvements after one month and if you’re not, then maybe it’s not right for you”. Austin will always refer his patients elsewhere if he feels they are not benefiting from his help.
If you would like to learn more about how Bowen Therapy works, get in touch with Austin who can explain the process further and how it could benefit you. He has clinics based in Totnes and Exeter, and his book- The Offensive Health Book, will soon be available for purchase.
“Engaging with improving your health is a great first step for anyone, so I enjoy that first phonecall when someone starts to want to get better. I always say, just give me a call and we can chat about step 2”.