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Understanding “Bowenwork” When Regulating Massage

August 25, 2017
Over the past several years, significant changes have occurred in massage regulation and local officials have faced challenges keeping up with the laws and understanding the various massage-related disciplines.
 
BowenUSA, a small bodywork association representing Bowenwork practitioners, recently approached the League of California Cities® to provide background information for local officials on “Bowenwork” and explain why they believe that their businesses should be regulated differently than massage practitioners by cities and counties.
 
Certification Process for Bowenwork Practitioners
 
Practitioners of Bowenwork maintain that their bodywork modality is fundamentally different from massage and, therefore, should not be regulated by cities and counties in the same manner.
 
The American Bowen Academy (ABA) certifies Bowenwork practitioners, who must complete 340 hours of training in order to become certified, including 212 hours in the theory and practice of Bowenwork, 100 hours of anatomy and physiology, 24 hours of business and ethics and 4 hours CPR certification. Once certified, Bowenwork practitioners are required to complete 32 hours of continuing education units every two years to maintain professional registration with ABA.
 
Bowenwork can be defined as a gentle, relaxation technique that uses minimal touch over specific and targeted parts of the body in order to reset the autonomic nervous system and promote the body’s innate healing systems. In Bowenwork, the movements are minimal and the practitioner’s contact on the client’s body lasts a few seconds, followed by several hands-off rest periods ranging from two to four minutes, or longer. The work is performed on fully clothed clients and no heat, oils or lotions are applied to the body. Bowenwork sessions can be, and have been done in public.
 
The Oregon and New Hampshire legislatures have exempted Bowenwork practitioners from state massage licensing requirements. In Colorado, Arizona and Texas, non-massage therapists may practice their bodywork technique if trained by a recognized training organization that monitors and manages any complaints about a practitioner’s professional conduct.
 
Representatives of ABA, maintain that, to date, the Academy has never had any complaints nor cases of practitioners involved in human-trafficking, prostitution, or otherwise causing public harm.
 
Most Bowenwork Practitioners do not have CAMTC Certificates
 
Since Bowenwork practitioners have their own certification process, most do not also pursue a separate voluntary certification from California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), because they prefer to practice Bowenwork rather than massage.
 
Local Regulation of Bowenwork
 
Challenges have occurred for Bowenwork practitioners when some local agencies require them to present CAMTC certification. Representatives of ABA maintain that CAMTC does not recognize Bowenwork training (as described above) as “massage” training. This has led to some Bowenwork certified practitioners needing to spend thousands of additional dollars enrolling in CAMTC-approved massage schools in order to become CAMTC certified, despite the fact that they do not intend to practice massage.
 
BowenUSA representatives share that Bowenwork practitioners are willing to obtain a local business license as well as present Bowenwork certification from ABA. They have no issues with regulatory oversight from municipalities that might extend beyond what is permissible to impose on massage therapists licensed by CAMTC. This could include provisional business licenses, enhanced background checks, site visits, etc. BowenUSA practitioners are willing to comply with this level of regulation if it means they are able to practice this modality unhindered.
 
BowenUSA representatives encourage cities to learn more about Bowenwork from the American Bowen Academy and other resources on this modality, and consider licensing Bowenwork practitioners separately from CAMTC-certified and other massage therapists.


 
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