Photo of Tom BowenThomas Ambrose Bowen was born in 1916 to parents who had emigrated to Australia from Wolverhampton (UK) in the early 1900s.  He left school aged 14 or 15, taking various labouring jobs before going into the building trade where he trained as a carpenter like his father, and worked as a general hand at Geelong Cement Works.

Whilst working at the cement works, Bowen started to treat people who came to him with various ailments.  He had had no formal training, just a keen interest in healing having helped his wife overcome asthma; everything was self-taught from observation, discussions, reading and intuition. With an increasing volume of people wanting to be treated and encouragement from close friends, he eventually operated a clinic full-time where it was said he worked at the astonishing rate of around 14 patients an hour.

It was often said that Tom Bowen could take one look at an individual and ‘see’ what was wrong and where the problem stemmed from.  He only then needed to do a few simple moves before seeing the body starting to change.  He would then send the patient away to let the body do the healing, sometimes getting them to return a week later.

Over the years, Tom Bowen had many people who watched and learned from him but six men are considered to be ‘Tom’s Boys’, the ones who he considered ‘had the touch’ and spent the most time with him, observing and learning. Each one had a slightly different interpretation, possibly due in part to their backgrounds in differing therapies.  One of them, Oswald Rentsch, started teaching his interpretation of the work in 1982 (after Bowen’s death), and is credited with taking it to a global audience.

What Tom Bowen found was a starting point from which he could encourage the body’s own power of healing to take hold. What he discovered has huge implications in both the world of modern medicine and the complementary field.

If you’d like to know more about the life and times of Tom Bowen, Shirley Strachan has written an excellent book, Healing Hands: Unsung Voices Anthology (available on Amazon) which includes memories from grateful patients, interviews with his daughters and stories from others whose lives he touched.


“I expect to pass through this world but once,
any good thing therefore that I do,
or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature,
let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it
for I shall never pass this way again.”

Tom Bowen Memorial
The Tom Bowen Memorial in Geelong’s West Park