BOWENWORK BUSINESS PRACTICES & ETHICS
It takes emotional maturity to be a successful Bowenwork practitioner in a stable, private practice. It takes more than practicing, to sustain a practice. There are a number of things that contribute or detract from your success in your practice:
How you treat your clientsHow you are perceived by your peersHow you comply with codes and lawsHow you create a clean, peaceful, healing environmentHow you keep track of your businessHow you promote yourselfHow you deal with uncomfortable situations
Be very cautious about asking personal questions if they do not directly relate to the client’s condition. A client’s personal life is none of your business. Do not ask if a person is married, happy, eats meat, has a difficult relationship, etc. That is not part of their“contract” in coming to you for Bowenwork. Most professional body-workers know enough to never ask a client on a date, obviously, but be aware that it is also inappropriate to comment on their body’s appearance, such as:
“Wow, you’re in great shape; do you work out?” (You might as well say, “My, what toned thighs you have”).
“What beautiful hair”
“Well, your back and knees are probably strained by those extra pounds you’re carrying”
It is vitally important not to offer any negative feedback to client through your observations. The damaging “nocebo effect” is every bit as powerful as the “placebo effect”. Common nocebos:
“Did you know you have a scoliosis?”“I think the cause of your headaches is that you can’t handle all that stress”“The source of your problem is probably emotional.”“That neck is really tight – it’s probably coming from your jaw being so out of line”
If you hear a complaint about another practitioner, please let the person know that they do have avenues to express their concern (usually the practitioners’ association), which allows for both sides of the story to be heard. It is important that you express concern about their experience without adding an opinion about the other practitioner. NEVER talk negatively about another practitioner or modality – it reflects badly on the whole organization, and upon you. You can also ask if they would like you to submit the complaint on their behalf, provided they attach their name to the complaint. It is very important that complainants also take responsibility, so follow up is possible.
When a client calls you for an appointment, speak right then about the requirement that they schedule when they are not in the process of other bodywork. Do not surprise them with this when they arrive for the appointment. Ask the client to schedule for two sessions, one week apart, when no other bodywork is being received. You will need two weeks free from other work, at the very least. It gives Bowenwork a bad name if you treat them along with other modalities, and they do not get optimum results. In Bowenwork, we must observe this ground rule to avoid overloading the body and mixing the messages to the brain.
Dress appropriately. If what you are wearing could be worn to the beach or a party, it is not professional dress for an office professional. Be sure your nails are trimmed and groomed.
It is your responsibility to give clients Tom Bowen’s protocols as homework for the shoulder procedure (arm circles for all, rotating the capsule under pressure for those who can lift past 90 degrees), hamstring procedure (for all), and pelvic (for all). They are not optional; they are NECESSARY for the proper response. If they are painful for the client, then they are not doing them correctly. It is your responsibility to know every way they can be modified to be done without discomfort. Repeatedly check your client’s performance of them before the treatment, to encourage them to connect with them and to assure they are doing them correctly.
Your commitment as a Bowenworker is to follow its most basic tenets:
Remember that you have signed an agreement not to teach the work to clients, except for the Chest procedure and the last move of the Respiratory procedure. Instead, encourage interested clients to sign up for a class, so they can learn the approach properly with a Registered Instructor.
If you call a client to check on their progress, do so without an agenda. Do not call with an underlying message that you are questioning why they have not scheduled another appointment. Inquire with an open and sincere interest in their well being. Tom Bowen’s phrase was, “I want to see you whenever you want to see me”. If you hear or suspect that the client was in any way dissatisfied with their experience with you, ask, “Is there anything you can share with me about our last session that you think I should know?”. Listen without defending. If you do not understand what they are concerned about, ask, “Can you tell me more about that?” until you do understand. Then thank them for their willingness to share, and let them know that you will reflect on all their comments and incorporate the insights you receive.
Represent the highest level of care and service to your clients. Tom Bowen was perceived by his clients as representing a high level of integrity and service to the community. Strive to be sure this is also true of you.
Friend / Client Relationships (Dual Relationships):
How to maintain the balance? When offering bodywork, it is so easy to lose track in the dance of healing, which is intimate by its nature. Professional awareness can include allowing clients to become very cordial acquaintances, but we must not confuse this with personal intimacy.
A crucial behavior on your part is to not share with them your personal, intimate life. A certain level of information it is ok, but you have to be minimal. For example, “Yes, I too feel pain in my joints when I eat too many acidic foods” might be okay, but “Yes, I too have felt like my partner doesn’t listen” is Too Much Information. Do not talk about financial strains, or your existential overwhelm in these modern times, or personal issues of your family. Do not initiate meeting up for a cup of coffee or to chat. If they call you and want to chat, let them know that you are so sorry, but don’t have their chart with you, so could they please save it and tell you what is happening for them when they come in for an appointment? I tell clients, “I use the phone more as a tool to set up appointments than to try to capture crucial information”.
It might be all right to accept an invitation to a party at their house, but you will need to develop awareness and education about “dual relationships”. (We explore this more deeply in the Ethics portion of the Bowen Career Success course). If I do accept an invitation, I am very aware that I am representing my business the entire time. No getting loose and sitting in a lap. No “marketing myself” at the event, either. It is a social invitation. Behave modestly and sincerely in getting to know people there.
If “something more” evolves from the usual client relationship, i.e., more intimacy starts brewing for either a friendship or romantic relationship, then we must choose consciously about transmuting the relationship. To do so requires conscious ethical behaviors. Be aware you are risking losing the client relationship entirely, and very possibly both relationships. Of course, it can happen that we meet people who will be lifelong friends or even partners, and the choice can be worth it. I know Bowenworkers who have married a client and lived happily ever after. But, the first ethical step towards a romance is to ask your client to take a hiatus from seeing you and go to another practitioner, while both of you to stop contact for an agreed-upon amount of time, to allow the energy to settle and see if the infatuation persists. Then courting would proceed in a purely personal environment, with no mixing of Bowenwork for a time.
Once you are in a partnership, and are agreed upon a dual relationship in which you treat your partner with Bowenwork, I strongly suggest that you ask the partner to make appointments for Bowenwork during your office hours, so that you can truly rest when you get home. I do make exceptions for emergencies, at which time I will go out of my way to offer the work on the injury before the person sleeps that night.
your partner would rather see another practitioner, of course be wholeheartedly
gracious and supportive. Refrain from asking any questions about their sessions,
and/or making any comments about them. Respect fully their professional relationship.