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Tom Ambrose Bowen

Tom Ambrose Bowen was born on April 18, 1916, the third child and only son of William and Norah Bowen. He had two older sisters, Norah and Beatrice, and a younger sister, Agnes.

His parents arrived in Australia around 1910, coming from Wolverhampton, Great Britain. They settled in Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne, where Tom was most likely born.

As a child, Tom Bowen greatly desired to become a doctor. His father was a carpenter and would not allow any of his children to receive more education than necessary to get a job. Therefore, without having a say, after finishing school, Tom became an apprentice carpenter.

Tom married Jessie McLean at the Salvation Army in September 1941, and they moved to Geelong, where Tom took a job as a carpenter at the local cement factory. They had three children: Pam, Barry, and Heather.

Tom was a passionate athlete who loved swimming, cycling, and playing cricket. He successfully led a sports club for the Salvation Army in Geelong, training young people in various sports, physical exercises, and gymnastics.

His wife, Jessie, suffered from asthma and often required hospitalization to ease her breathing. Tom somehow began learning how to help his wife overcome asthma attacks and periodically treated her using his procedures. Jessie‚Äôs condition constantly improved, and eventually, she no longer needed medication or hospitalization thanks to Tom’s method.

Tom achieved immediate results when applying some procedures he designed for sports accident cases at the club and was able to help any coworker who complained of pain.

Soon, word spread, and everyone learned that Tom had his method of helping those in distress. While he worked as a carpenter at the factory during the day, Tom started working evenings at home, treating more and more people who sought his help with various health problems.

Tom Bowen continued to develop and improve his technique. By the early 1960s, a major decision was necessary: to stay at the cement factory or to take a risk and start his practice. Although Jessie, his wife, disagreed with taking risks, Tom managed to convince her and opened a practice in the home of a family friend, Rene Horwood, on Autumn Street. Rene had sold her business and had enough time to offer Tom support and advice, based on her many years of business experience.

While Rene handled the secretarial and accounting work, Tom successfully helped those with back pain, sports accidents, asthma, organic ailments, mental and emotional problems, and even managed to bring relief to those with severe disabilities. Thus began the lifelong work of the man who would later be recognized for his genius in restoring people’s health.

Soon, the large number of patients coming for treatment made it impossible to continue working in a private home, so the next step was moving to a larger location at 99 Latrobe Terrace, Geelong. However, this location also soon proved too small, and Tom moved his practice to 283 Latrobe Terrace.

He would arrive at the clinic a little before 9 AM to start his workday. Tom went home for lunch break, and after about two hours, he would return and resume his activity. He always had an open door for asthmatics and pregnant women, although they represented only a small part of his clientele. He often visited patients’ homes in the middle of the night to help with asthma attacks.

It is estimated that Tom treated about 14 patients per hour, and on average, applied only two or three sessions to each before they were healed.

According to his daughter Pam, her father was extremely generous when he encountered people in desperate situations or children with disabilities requiring special care. During this time, Tom could have made a lot of money, but that was not a priority for him; Rene’s presence was a blessing as she took care of the business finances. Every Saturday, his practice was open for disabled people, who received free treatment. Tom was assisted in his altruistic work by two of his apprentices, Romney Smeeton and Kevin Ryan.

Tom’s greatest reward was being able to help his fellow humans!

Tom was very involved in the activities of local football clubs, and it was well known that his practice door was open on Saturday nights until the last footballer left.

He also had a great affinity for animals, treating both small pets like cats and dogs and larger animals like horses.

Although Tom did not have medical training, he became a respected therapist, consistently treating 13,000 patients a year. These figures were verified in 1975 by a study commissioned by the Australian Government regarding the activity of alternative and complementary medicine therapists.

Tom was in such demand that his family often suffered from his “celebrity” status, especially during holidays like Christmas, when Tom visited “special” children.

Over the years, many people asked Tom to teach them his treatment method, but he only instructed six people: Keith Davis, Nigel Love (deceased), Kevin Neave, Oswald Rentsch, Kevin Ryan, and Romney Smeeton. These were considered “Tom’s boys.” All of Tom’s boys asked him the same question: how and where did he conceive and develop this amazing technique? His answer was always the same:
It was a gift from God!

In 1974, while Tom was attending the National Health Conference in Adelaide, South Australia, he was introduced to Oswald Rentsch and invited him to Geelong to teach him the technique.

Since Bowen had no manuals or notes, he asked Ossie to document his work and authorized him to teach it to anyone who wanted to learn it after his death.

Ossie and Elaine
Ossie’s wife, Elaine, also learned the technique from Bowen, and after two and a half years, in 1976, Ossie and Elaine opened a naturopathic clinic in Hamilton, Western Victoria, where they practiced only Bowen therapy as a manual technique.

After Bowen’s death in 1982, there was increasing pressure on the Rentsch family to start teaching the Bowen technique. This did not happen until 1986, four years after Bowen’s death when the Rentsches began organizing training courses first in Australia and then on almost all continents. Since 1992, this treatment method has been taught to 29,000 people worldwide, with the help of 98 instructors, with seminars held in over 30 countries and 18 Bowen Associations affiliated with the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia.