A MASSAGE PRACTICE TO BOWENWORK
Part 1of 3
By Alexia Monroe
Many students who attend our classes come from a massage or other bodywork background. Some already have a full practice, relying upon massage for their bread and butter. When they learn that Bowenwork must be practiced alone for best results, and practiced a LOT in order to learn and understand it, they shake their heads in frustration:
“But where am I going to find time to practice? I’m already exhausted by the end of the day, and my clients are all so attached to massage that they’ve got no interest in trying something new!”
I empathize. I was a Licensed Massage Technician for 8 years before I learned Bowtech in early 1993. I had a full massage practice for years, booked weeks in advance, doing 20 massages per week. I had to stop after developing severe carpal tunnel syndrome, but now I thank my lucky stars. Receiving Bowenwork not only resolved my carpal problems, it gave me a new career. For almost 15 years I have practiced nothing but Bowen, and it has been more satisfying on every level – physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and financially -- than I could have imagined.
Some of you see the potential for a Bowenwork practice, whether from your own exploration or from seeing someone else’s, and you would like to convert your massage practice to pure Bowen. However, most people have not heard of the work. You cannot put out a shingle and expect people to come if they don’t know what it is. You cannot place an ad in a paper and expect people to call. No one will contact you until they have some knowledge of your offering. So how do you begin?
IDENTIFYING THE NEW WORK
It is greatly to your advantage to use the terms “Bowenwork” or “Bowtech” instead of “Bowen”. We use Bowenwork in the U.S. due to the prominent archery company named Bowtech. Bowen Technique or Bowen Therapy are not helpful terms anymore, as there are many variations of the work being done under those names. If someone hears you “do Bowen”, and does an internet search for “Bowen”, they will research dozens of offshoot groups while trying to locate you. Bowenwork or Bowtech are the registered brands that distinguish you from the rest. It is likely that offshoots will continue to veer from the original work, so our future success lies in identifying ourselves with the profound results obtained from our minimal and non-invasive approach.
OFFERING THE WORK
Massage boards do not specify what forms of bodywork you may do under your license, as long as it is bodywork and you do not diagnose or advise beyond your scope of practice. If you are already licensed as a bodyworker (or OT or PT, etc.) in your state or province, then you are legally allowed to charge for Bowenwork in your practice, even though you are still a student in the training. The ethical consideration is that you cannot claim to be a Practitioner of this work until you are Accredited.
Therefore, even after only Module 1, you may approach your regular clients and say, "I’m learning an amazing technique that is more specific to your pain than what we've been doing. Let's devote the next two sessions to this approach, and see how you feel. It is possible it may relieve your tension/pain levels in a more lasting way".
Since the client trusts you to address their condition with your best judgment, they are usually willing to receive your suggestion. Explain that it is different from their usual massage, but avoid going to great lengths to try to describe it before they have experienced it. Keep it simple at this stage. Possible wordings of key points: “This work addresses the stretch receptors in your muscles. It may seem subtle at first, but the effect builds as your body responds. It is specific to the feedback of YOUR body. I will be listening for signals that guide me in what to do and when to stop. I will be leaving the room for a few minutes at a time, since pauses are required for your brain to complete a feedback loop. The brain’s messages reset the tension levels in the tissues throughout your body. We will gauge your responses 3 or 4 days from now rather than today.”
Offer the work with calm confidence, even though you are just
learning, and wait until the next session to assess the results. Do not try
to address every symptom they have, which I call “chasing the symptoms”;
you will overwork them if you do, and you will diminish the results. Give their
body time to respond holistically.
SETTING UP MULTIPLE TABLES
I suggest that you set up your office with at least two tables from the beginning. Tell clients, “Bowenwork is usually performed on more than one person at a time, due to the required pauses that allow the brain to respond to the moves. The sessions take various times, which are hard to predict since the work is tailored to the specific needs of each person”. Everyone likes to hear that!
A successful Bowenwork practice is set up more like a doctor's office than a massage therapist’s. Bowenworkers charge by the session, not by the time. You can make more income for your time when you prepare to work on multiple clients. And it is helpful to have a free table so that clients can drop in if they sustain an injury.
Educate clients about the dramatic results gained by treating an injury on the day it occurs. Strongly encourage them to see you OR, if you are not available, another Bowenworker on that day. It is far more important that you show your belief in the work over attachment to the practitioner. When you and your clients see the “miracle” recoveries after an injury through receiving Bowenwork on the day, everyone’s belief in the work rises. Your clientele will become passionate about this work, and all will benefit.
SCHEDULING THE FIRST APPOINTMENT
Make all first appointments for two sessions, including your regular massage clients who are willing to try it. I describe it in the following way: "We need two sessions, one week apart, to set in the basic foundation of the work. A week after the second appointment, I'll know more from your body's responses what might be going on. At that point, we’ll decide together how to proceed, ok?"
Ask before you schedule whether their calendar is free from all other bodywork. If they have appointments on their calendar, I say, "That's fine. Since we want to give each approach its own time to work, let's schedule after those are finished, so that we give Bowenwork its own time, too. This way you can be a good judge of the effectiveness of each".
It is essential that you value Bowenwork highly enough to insist on no other bodywork influences. Even if the client did wait a week after a session to receive a massage or chiropractic, the holistic effect begun in the body through Bowenwork changes. It is very common that after a few sessions of Bowtech, a client improves significantly. Then they receive a session of a different bodywork, and their chronic pain and problems often return. The kicker is that their pain is so familiar that they forget they had been improved a few weeks before!
So I do my best to persuade them to give me a month of Bowenwork with no other bodywork influences. This does not mean a session each week is required. The first two sessions are one week apart, but if they are still processing, we might wait two weeks for the next. I simply ask that they not receive other input during that time. Truly, they often improve from receiving less bodywork overall, and giving more resting time to those areas trying to heal.
Next issues, parts 2 & 3: Being a scientist with intake notes, drawing new clientele with new cards, targeting your market, promoting with results, describing the work, pricing and scheduling, dissolving competition, continuing to learn.