Published January 2007
Nancy Clark is used to being a wellness “pioneer.” Back when she studied to become a natural therapeutic specialist in the mid-1980s, massage and other natural treatments weren’t nearly as well known, or as well used, in the United States as they are in today’s health-care environment.
So she figures it will take some time for the manual therapy she now specializes in, Bowenwork, to catch on. But she and others are working to speed that up if they can because, as she says, “there is nothing else like it.”
“I state that boldly, coming from my own personal and professional experience,” said Clark, a licensed massage practitioner who has more than 20 years of experience in massage and bodywork.
In June 2005, the registered Bowenwork therapist opened Bowenwork Health Center in Marysville, where she practices the soft-tissue therapeutic technique developed over a period of three decades by the late Thomas Bowen of Australia.
In Bowenwork, or Bowen Technique, therapists locate points on the body over muscle and connective tissue, which are then subject to precise, gentle and noninvasive “stretch and release” movements. These movements act on the autonomic nervous system to create a calm internal environment that enables the body to “reset and rebalance itself,” Clark said.
“Bowenwork freely allows the body to heal at its own natural ability at the cellular level,” said Clark, whose clients have come to her suffering from chronic ailments as well as physical trauma.
Clients including a 75-year-old woman functioning in pain for the past 25 years, ever since undergoing lower-back surgery; a woman diagnosed with fibromyalgia; and another woman who had been in a car accident and was suffering severe headaches as a result.
“I had a woman come to me, she had had an ankle injury that had required surgery, and she wasn’t healing,” Clark recalled. “She couldn’t stand longer than an hour without pain. ... After four treatments, she was able to function with daily activities. She could start participating in life again.”
When clients first arrive, in pain and looking for relief, Clark begins by assessing their physical condition and where the pain is presenting. Each Bowenwork session is then tailored to the client’s physical condition at the time of arrival.
The treatment itself involves Clark applying a Bowenwork movement to a specific area of the body and then pausing to allow the body time to respond before another movement is applied. Afterward, clients are given simple instructions on how to support the treatment, which is aimed at helping the body gain holistic balance.
“Hydration is a major factor in the body’s ability to heal,” said Clark, who advises clients to drink extra water and avoid caffeine.
Subsequent treatments are scheduled on a weekly basis, as the full effects of a single Bowenwork session can take three to five days to be integrated, she said, noting that insurance often covers Bowenwork because it is a manual therapy.
The majority of Clark’s clients find her through word-of-mouth, from friends and family who have gotten dramatic results from Bowenwork. She also receives referrals from health-care professionals, and is looking to grow her referral base by educating health-care providers about the technique and its benefits.
“The work is very new in the United States,” she said, noting that it arrived in this country in the past decade.
She does see signs of growing acceptance of Bowenwork in the traditional medical community, though, noting that the Tulalip Health Clinic offers Bowen therapies, as does Swedish Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. The Breast Center at Valley Medical Center also offers Bowen Technique as part of its manual therapy services.
Even so, Clark will continue to speak at medical functions and build awareness of Bowenwork as she builds her own Marysville practice.
It’s all in a day’s work for a seasoned pioneer.
© 2007 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA