CNH5 Provide Bowen Therapy to clients


This standard is about providing Bowen Therapy to clients.  Bowen Therapy is a holistic approach based on the work of the late Thomas Bowen that encourages the body to reset and heal itself.  The treatment consists of a series of moves applied to specific areas of the body including muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, joints and nerves.  Bowen therapy is considered suitable for everyone from pregnant women to new-born babies, the frail and the elderly.

Bowen therapy involves no forceful manipulation, uses mostly light pressure and is relaxing and pleasant to receive.  By combining sets of moves both in placement and sequence, the practitioner is able to address the body as a whole and/or target a specific problem. It can assist recovery from many conditions, from traumatic injury to chronic illness, depending on the individual’s capacity to recover health and vitality.

The calm, measured process of a treatment session fosters an opportunity for the release of pain and stress and enables the person to remember what it feels like to be relaxed and comfortable.  The sense of more physical ease can be associated with regaining more emotional and mental well being.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. the history, principles and development of Bowen Therapy and its relationship to other healthcare
  2. the basic principle of minimum intervention
  3. the energy flows, pathways and trains within the inter-connectedness of the body and patterns of compensation
  4. the importance of viewing the person as more than their symptoms i.e. holistically
  5. how to assess the clients needs and expectations in the context of Bowen Therapy
  6. the physiological and emotional effects of:
    1. trauma
    2. stress
    3. grief
    4. auto-immune reactions
    5. allergic reactions
    6. disabilities
    7. ageing processes
    8. placebo effects
  7. how pain and symptoms can be a key guide to how and where the body is protecting the health of the person
  8. how to assess the relationship between emotional and mental states and their influence on physical symptoms
  9. how to identify the common conditions that Bowen Therapy can address and the different methods for addressing these
  10. the circumstances in which Bowen Therapy may complement or be complemented by other healthcare
  11. the principles and procedures in handling referral data from, or to, medical sources or other professionals including confidentiality
  12. the actions to take in the event of a client refusing to consult a doctor
  13. the circumstances in which you may choose not to accept or continue treating a client
  14. the importance of explaining treatment options to the client
  15. how to plan and assess the Bowen Therapy with the client
  16. the way in which some other therapies may interfere with the way the body responds to Bowen Therapy
  17. the key elements of Bowen Therapy including:
    1. gentle moves at key points in the body consisting of taking skin slack, applying a challenge, and making a “rolling” type move
    2. the required frequent breaks between some sets of moves to allow the body to respond and integrate the work
    3. a highly sensitive and responsive touch by the practitioner
    4. that the work may be performed through light clothing without the need for the client to undress
  18. how to position the client for optimal treatment outcome whilst maintaining comfort and dignity
  19. how to communicate effectively seeking consent and comfort levels without disturbing the relaxation of the client
  20. how to vary pressure and touch and respond to feedback from client
  21. how to allow the client’s body and responses to determine the speed and length of treatment
  22. how to assess evidence gained through observation, palpation and tactile listening, and use this information within the treatment plan
  23. how to select specific points on the body required for each move
  24. how to perform and combine specific sequences of moves with the intention of locating the link to body structures and systems involved to achieve therapeutic response
  25. how to recognise clients’ responses and make any necessary adjustments
  26. how to motivate people to observe and note their symptoms and to make positive changes that will assist their well being
  27. how to recognise completion of an individual’s therapeutic process
  28. how to advise on self-care measures to support effects of treatment
  29. how to support a client experiencing a ‘healing response’
  30. how to encourage maintenance and stability after treatment through appropriate advice, exercise and self-care procedures related to specific conditions
  31. how to review the effectiveness of the Bowen Therapy with the client and evaluate the extent to which their needs have been met
  32. the reasons for explaining to the client any other form of therapy to be included in the treatment and gaining consent for it to be included
  33. the reasons for not making any claims that Bowen Therapy will cure specific conditions
  34. the reasons for not making misleading statements such as claiming to practise ‘advanced’ Bowen therapy or be an ‘advanced’ Bowen therapist
  35. the ways in which complementary practitioners work with medical practitioners, do not make medical diagnosis, and accept that the doctor remains in clinical charge of the patient
  36. the structure, function, location and interaction of glands, organs and systems of the body .i.e.
    1. cardio-vascular system
    2. lymphatic system
    3. fascia and connective tissue
    4. nervous system
    5. endocrine system
    6. digestive system
    7. respiratory system
    8. urinary system
    9. reproductive system
    10. immune system
    11. the skin
    12. cells and tissue
    13. glands and organs
    14. musculo-skeletal system
    15. energy and conductivity through the body as a whole
    16. pregnancy and child birth
  37. embryology

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. consult with the client and plan the Bowen Therapy
  2. check that the environment meets the clients needs
  3. ensure that any equipment and materials are suitable, clean and safe for use
  4. prepare yourself appropriately to provide Bowen Therapy
  5. position the client for effective Bowen Therapy and give as much comfort as possible
  6. carry out the Bowen Therapy safely and correctly
  7. make appropriate adjustments to the Bowen Therapy to meet any changing needs
  8. deal effectively with the client’s response to Bowen Therapy
  9. check the client’s well-being throughout and give reassurance where needed
  10. provide clear and accurate advice with regard to any relevant aftercare and self-care
  11. evaluate the outcomes and effectiveness of the Bowen Therapy to support future plans and actions
  12. complete and maintain records in accordance with professional and legal requirements

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB7 Interventions and treatments

This standard has replaced CH BH1, CH BH2, CH BH3, CH BH4 and CH BH5.

Related Functions

Principles of Good Practice

CNH1 Explore and establish the client's needs for complementary and natural healthcare

CNH2 Develop and agree plans for complementary and natural healthcare with clients

CNH5 Provide Bowen Therapy to clients
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk