Gene Dobkin’s Bowen Bridge™ Class
Beginning his Bowen study in 1992, Gene Dobkin was the top U.S. Instructor for first the Bowen Academy of Australia, and later teaching Neuro-Structural Integration Technique.
As effective as these techniques are, I was alway hoping for something more, and feedback from students confirmed that they were as well. When results were good they were good. When results weren’t good, there were limited suggested avenues of recourse:
• Wait a week and repeat.
• Try other combinations of stock procedures.
• Repeat classes to hone “correctness” of procedures.
• Wait for new procedures in advanced classes.
• Conclude that there is an underlying emotional problem.
Mixing techniques and experimentation were never considered acceptable options, even though anybody with a pair of hands and a bit of courage could find out that mixing in other subtle techniques did not destroy the work. Often, in fact, it produced much improved results. Each practitioner was, unfortunately, alone in this search.
Classical Bowen training, in its many variations, is an excellent foundation. New information is not the enemy. With an open mind, tempered by a discriminating sense, one will quickly see which avenues are fruitful and which are not.
Neural Touch™ and The Bowen Bridge™ Class are the result of Gene’s blending of this basic material with input from others of Tom Bowen’s students, as well as from a variety of osteopathic traditions (Tom Bowen himself spoke of study of osteopathic texts). There have been several basic criteria for inclusion of the materials and influences that have become the Bowen Bridge™ Class:
• They have to be consistent with, or extensions of, the spirit and technology of Bowen.
• They have to be original, or at least very little known.
• They have to be easy on the practitioner.
• They have to be effective and lasting.
• They have to be as noninvasive as possible (though, reportedly, Tom Bowen often made clients jump and twitch).
• They have to be flexible and adaptable to each practitioner and each client.
The Bowen Bridge class is available to anyone who already has at least the basics (minimum five days of training) and a reasonable amount of practical experience in any legitimate, Bowen-attributed technique. It is not a substitute for advanced level classes or procedures from any other institution. Rather it is a departure from reliance on rigid recipes. Whether or not, once upon a time, Tom Bowen invented these particular recipes in the first place is endlessly debatable. That he would willingly stifle his native curiosity and inventiveness in order to use only recipes, even his own, is unthinkable. (For more on this and other popular Bowen myths, click here.) .
1 A technique is a technique, to be used wherever and whenever it proves most useful. The labeling of techniques as being ‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ is another invented concept that codifies and legislates what should be a living, breathing therapist-client interaction.
With Bowen Bridge, you can go beyond the pretense of mimicking exactly what Mr. Bowen might have done twenty or thirty years ago. In it’s place you can absorb the principles behind these procedures, the how’s and the why’s of them. Then, not only will your effectiveness increase, but you will experience the great relief and joy of being able to sculpt each session to your client’s needs and your own therapeutic temperament.
The Bowen Bridge class follows an orderly pathway. This is not a totally linear sequence, but rather establishes a comforting regularity of cycle while introducing new concepts:
• First we explore each of a number of new procedures. They are all proven extremely useful and effective in their own right. But that’s not the main focus. Using them as object lessons, it is explained how they were derived from a deconstruction and reworking of the principles behind more widespread procedures.
• Next we work with the principles themselves. Under guidance, students begin to see, palpate, and address the body in a more directed way, based on structure and function rather than following formulas.
• Then we begin to put Bowen into the context of other approaches to bodywork. As an example, there are contact points from other systems that can be stimulated much more quickly and efficiently with Bowen moves than in the traditional way (much of this involves two-handed contacts). As another example, moving or positioning the body while doing Bowen’s moves can produce very effective, sometimes startling results.
• Finally we explore other compatible techniques. This is neither in order to reinvent the wheel, nor to teach some other system in its entirety, but rather to give an overview of blending, and to address the underlying issue of compatibility itself. Any other technique can be “Bowen-ized”.
The basic Bowen move itself is not a static tool. It can encompass a depth of variations, from a whisper to a thump, all of which have their own reasons and results. Add to this a 360° range of directional choices, and you’ve virtually invented (or re-invented) several new and established techniques to add to your tool belt.
This is not a “easy” course, because you can’t just mechanically follow instructions. However, each element is as distilled and as simple as it can be. The learning curve continues and strengthens after students go home and work out the ramifications of what they began to explore in class (e.g. what clients experience after a session). Students regularly report this expansion and discovery process as going on for several months.
Neither is this an easy class to teach. Within the space of a few days, I try to present students with more than new routines; but new ways of looking at Bowen and therapeutic practice in general. This is usually accomplished through Neural Touch tracking in four classes totaling 13 days, plus the practice time students have between classes. To do justice to the system, it might be better to take the four courses. But we have found that students who have risen through the ranks of other Bowen institutes are loath to commit the time and money to “start all over again.”
Some students say, “I’d like to take your classes, but I want to learn Bowen the standard way first.” As has been pointed out, the ‘standard‘ way is a compiling of certain moments in time; not Tom Bowen’s living, breathing practice. And the statement illustrates a belief that is slashes with the experience of those who teach subjects that are art as well as science. Music teachers will often caution students not to play mechanically. The student replies, “I just want to learn the notes first. I’ll make it musical later. “ The teacher sadly shakes her head, knowing that the habit of mechanical performance is deadly hard to shake once it’s ingrained.
In effect then, the Bowen Bridge seems impossible. But by all indicators, it succeeds amazingly well. What makes it happen is students who have grasped the potential of Bowen, who want to break old habits, and who are ready to work. Just as Bowen works on ‘impossible’ clients, the Bowen Bridge can bring about quantum changes in your practice. It is strongly recommended that you do a review of anatomy before attending
If you choose, you may repeat the class at a discount2, and many do. Not only will you fill in gaps in your understanding, but you are guaranteed an updated, upgraded version of the class, since it is always evolving. Endless repetitions of incremental advanced classes are not necessary because you will be taught how to fish, rather than served a few more fish recipes.
2 Though with this price you fly “standby” — first time students will get priority seating.
Bowen Bridge Curriculum
Since the Bowen Bridge class is a new concept, many students are understandably confused as to what it might actually look like. The following is a syllabus for each of the three levels, and might help flesh out the process for you.
Bowen Bridge 1 Curriculum
1. “String Theory”: whole body release moves
2. Spinal Topography: dedicated moves for spinal distortion
3. Differential Lumbar and Iliac Moves
4. Advanced Elbow Release
5. Thoracic/Neurolymphatic Release (using Bowen moves)
6. Spinal Check: reflex moves for specific vertebrae
7. Quick Hamstring Check and Release
8. Thoracic Rib Release
9. Deltoid Release
10. Iliotibial Band Release
11. Bowen and Positional Release
12. DATA ATA (derivative of positional release)
13. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
14. Coccyx/Sphenoid Release
15. Pubis Release
Bowen Bridge 2 Curriculum
1. Glenohumeral Joint and Subscapularis
2. Lower Back “Gearshift”: a six part leg mobilization for low back problems)
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: multi-system approach
4. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: evaluation and release
5. Reflex points for Shoulder (lymphatic and vascular)
6. Reflex points for Low Back (lymphatic and vascular)
7. Advanced Abdominal Release: multi-system approach
Bowen Bridge 3 Curriculum
1. Longitudinal Fascial Lines Release
2. Suboccipital Release
3. Prone Procedures for Anterior Structures
4. Lower and Upper Back “Triads”
5. Dominant Leg Syndrome for Sciatic and Low Back
6. Client “Shifting” for Postural Release
7. “Syndrome Y” Protocols for Nervous-Organic-Endocrine Release
Student Comments on previous Bowen Bridge™ Classes:
***I know I said I wouldn’t email about every success but I had another on Sunday that has amazed me. First session for a teenaged girl. She fell off a horse a year ago and hurt her lower back. X-rays, physio etc. and she is still in a lot of pain. Her mother had basically refused to pay for any more treatments as she didn’t believe that her daughter was still in pain ä
On the table I had to use the lightest of touches anywhere near the base of her spine, it was that bad. I did the differential Iliac moves and then the “gearshift”. I could barely make the moves and when holding her leg I could feel the spasms right down into her ankle. I truly didn’t expect to be able to help her.
I got an email a day later telling me that she was able to roll over in bed without back pain for the first time since the injury. Her upper back was extremely rounded (upper X) and even that she says is somewhat better.
I am positive that I couldn’t have had any of the successes that I have had in the last week or so without your course. It has completely changed how I treat and how I work with each client.
Thank you again!!! —Elizabeth Sleight
***Superb Session ‚ Everyone could readily grasp all the procedures and rationales presented by Mr. Dobkin because of his excellent grasp of the material, vast knowledge of allied disciplines and ability to communicate these to the class. ‚Dr. Felix Evangelist
***I am grateful for your course in Vancouver. I have been using NST for over 2 years now. It is a beautiful technique and works well for a lot of people. But when it wasn’t as successful as I wanted, I felt there was more I could have done if I had known how. I had started to feel as if I was a robot, doing the same things over and over again whether they worked or not. It was as if even if I wanted to break the mold, my habits would have reigned over my hands.
I took a course from Ross Emmett with Ron Phelan and Romney Smeeton in Tasmania. And I took a course from Romney and Ross in Brisbane. And their techniques were amazingly useful and successful. At times, though, it felt as if they had some sort of natural intuition that I didn’t have in their approach to assessment. I just couldn’t quite ‘get it’.
Your course helped me to recognize that this ‘intuition’ could be learned and my depth of sensitivity could be practiced, and enhanced. I feel confident that what you have taught is exactly what I was looking for. There will be trial and error, but now I feel competent enough to let that be, to learn, to experiment and explore so that I can treat each of my clients as an individual and give them what they need. After all, that is precisely why I got into this field.
Thank you, Gene for sharing your gifts.
***Truly a gifted teacher and healer. It’s an honor to be in his classes. Very exciting and satisfying to have him teaching his own work and own interpretations. It couldn’t have been a better class!! I certainly hope Gene goes on to do more classes like this. It feels like “living, growing work.”
—Karla Mahanna [Bowtech and NST practitioner]
***Just a note to tell you how much I appreciate your new technique. I started this bodywork quest with BowTech. I knew Bowen techniques would be important for me but BowTech was far removed from my vision of my healing practice.
Then came NST which boosted my morale and opened many new doors. But, my Bowen Bridge Class was the apex. I now am confident in my abilities, confident in my blossoming techniques, and ready to really make a difference for many people. Thank you, Gene. I am a slow learner, but am finally a practitioner you can be proud of.
—Amy Johnson [Bowtech and NST practitioner]
***The whole experience was most interesting and thought provoking to say the least. Gene’s Bowen Bridge class is a must for anyone interested in new things. Truly amazing some of the techniques presented with clarity and simplicity… but what an effect. Gene presented a vast array of integrated material. It has changed my work considerably.
Gene did a demo session with my wife Susan and he resolved a number of things (that I was not able to) with Bowen Bridge techniques integrated into the “move.” Long standing shoulder problems have resolved as well as the wrist problem. Her knees are no longer a bother. A week has passed and she is still very well and without complaint. Thanks Gene. Wish I had seen this stuff earlier. Our class was a joy to participate in and I thank all those that were there. Gene’s considerable experience and dedication came through in this class and I urge all interested in this work to treat themselves to this very important addition…
—Dave Foster [NST practitioner]
***The class was life changing. I most enjoyed the sheer emancipation from rote, routine and orthodoxy. Seeing Gene at work—the dance of it! The experience of integrity and honesty, in relation to this whole Bowen lineage saga.
The course was worth doing the 11,000+ mile round-trip for! Gene has a generosity, a willingness to share his “work-in-progress,” a sheer lack of ego-investment, that are—sadly—very rare in this business. —John King (U.K.) [Bowtech practitioner]
***Gene’s command of the materials and his general knowledge and his innate curiosity and challenging mind are always an inspiration to keep studying and practicing in order to become a well rounded and effective therapist.
—[Bowtech and NST practitioner]
***The course encouraged me to go back to the way I used to work (pre-Bowen) and use Bowen as an adjunct rather than a formulaic staple and that initself was a great relief. It is much better to be free than to feel guilty for not sticking to the outline at least of the protocols as handed down by the formulators of Bowen’s work. Also, it encouraged me to look more at anatomy, as I had always tried to avoid getting ‘stuck’ in terminology, and I realised from your work that working more with anatomy would not inhibit my sensitivity or psychic awareness of what was going on – rather it would enhance it (I had always been worried that too much left brain thinking and understanding would inhibit the functioning of ‘feel’ and ‘sense’ and psychic awareness, but having watched you work I see that it does not hinder your function in any way.
Thank you too for that [in class] treatment you did on my right side – for weeks my left side was jealous, and I tried hard to find a way to balance up the two sides! I finally managed it I think!
-Ruth Baruch, Scotland
***The Bowen Bridge class was the most valuable and informative class I’ve taken in the 5 years I’ve been practicing bodywork. What you taught validated my hunch that mixing in other “body intelligent” techniques produces more immediate and noticeable results, and further individualizes the treatment for the client’s specific concerns. During my personal introduction in class, I mentioned that I was not satisfied with the results I was getting in my “pure” NST sessions. After only two days of implementing the Bowen Bridge material, I have witnessed results that are way beyond my expectations.
On my first day back to work, I had the opportunity to try out the techniques. Two of the clients presented with scoliosis, including a strong rotational component. This distortion was visually notable as they lie prone. Both reported pain, one primarily in the “low” shoulder, the other had pain in the “high” hip. I included the Difflumiac PRAP, positional release and final spinal check in both treatments. I watched as their bodies reversed rotation. On my final visual assessment, I was unable to see any rotation. Their sacrums returned to a perfect horizontal placement, their shoulders rested balanced on the table. Upon palpation, I couldn’t even feel the classic zigzag of their scoliotic spines. I was elated. These are both clients that have been coming to me for a long time and all other techniques have failed to make these changes. One called me the following day to report that her hip felt fabulous and her whole body felt much more balanced. “You have magical hands,” she said. No magic involved here, just some great new Neural Touch techniques used wisely.
—Kim LeMoon [ NST practitioner]
***The group was great! the Teacher is a born teacher. Thank you for your sacrifices to share with us your wealth of knowledge. I’ll be back when I digest as much as I can.
—Jan DeRusha [ NST practitioner]
***As a student of many Bowtech classes I wondered how I would fit in with all the other interpretations of Bowen’s work. I found that Gene was so empowering in his teaching that it didn’t seem to matter where I was coming from. What I find the most valuable from the class is a better understanding of Bowen’s work. Being able to assess and continue working on an area of concern until there was some improvement was way cool. The techniques for the neck and thoracic outlet have been of great benefit to my clients with upper back, neck and arm problems. I look forward to seeing all I’ve learned in the class unfold as I to apply it to my clients. —[Bowtech practitioner]
***Already the new “moves” seem fruitful — thoracic, shoulder releases, etc. Most fascinating to me is the agonist antagonist stuff.
—Nancy Zi [Bowtech and NST practitioner]
*** For seven years, I have been practicing Tom Bowen’s therapy as a protocol.
It worked fine as far as it went, but I never gained access to what the medium was, to what it was exactly that I was affecting. When it worked, it was great. When it didn’t, it was frustrating for me and disappointing to the client. I would arrive at a plateau — sometimes a very successful place, sometimes not — and could take them no farther, even with nutritional and exercise diligence on their part. With all the hours of training, with all the New Moves, with all the clients I’d treated, I would still hit that wall, and that wasn’t o.k. with me.
Recently I flew to California to take a course that transformed all that, one that actually gave us access to what we are doing in the body. For me the most exciting was learning how Tom Bowen’s therapy works – how it flows in the body, what it affects, what to look for, how to palpate, how to make the judgment, the call of what and where to move. I was, at long last, empowered in the work that I’ve been doing successfully, full time for years, but never knew how it worked!
In short order we were given explanations as to why our work worked, what stopped it, and how to move it forward when it did. Always with Bowen as the elegant basis, different modalities were added to further the action, each accompanied with an explanation as to where they came from, how they work, and what, in his experience, is the appropriate use of the modality or technique.
I have already experienced breakthroughs with several people, breakthroughs that either would not have come before, or that are now much faster, more effective and permanent. There is no doubt that Gene’s course not only supplied me with the tools, but gave me the confidence to overcome my fear of going beyond the “safety” of protocolic behavior and taking the risk of failure to gain the success that was possible.
—Kent McKeithan [Bowtech and NST practitioner]
***I’ve found the Differential Lumbar Iliac procedure VERY useful — it corrects uneven leg length too, and it’s fun to do. For my notes with clients I’ve taken to calling it the “difflumiac” other wise there is too much to write. Thanks again to Gene and classmates for making it a truly useful and productive few days.
—Kathryn Nance [Bowtech and NST practitioner]
***Gene is a great teacher. Manual is good, Gene talks it through, shows it well in class — easy access to teacher —Abigail Deckard [NST practitioner]
***I have been given enough information to last a lifetime of investigation and practice in all my present and future modalities.
—Stephen Mueller, CMT [NST practitioner]
***Very liberating release from doing the same procedures over and over again! Even though I have varied them and embellished them to an extent, it was still basically the same time after time. Gene has an extraordinary ability to impart enough information about a variety of techniques to make them immediately and practically available. As I work with them and understand WHY I am doing something, I can work more effectively and efficiently.
—[Bowtech and NST practitioner].