Thomas Ambrose Bowen was born in Australia in 1916. He married Jessie McLean in 1941. In the early 50’s, he noticed that his wife’s asthma attacks, which often required hospitalization, varied significantly in accordance with her nutrition. After years of a sound diet, and the soft tissue manipulations which he had perfected over time to alleviate her suffering, Jessie no longer needed drugs or hospitalization. During this period, he met with Ernie Saunders, a renowned manual therapist. This collaboration marked a turning point in his life. Over the course of his numerous meetings with Saunders, Bowen developed treatment techniques that would later bear his name. Self-taught, Bowen studied anatomy and, step by step, experimented constantly; he developed a unique method that allowed him to treat colleagues suffering from severe back pain. In the late 50’s, faced with a growing demand for his treatments, Tom Bowen decided to open a clinic where he worked evenings. He later quit his day job to devote himself entirely to his new profession.
He first adopted the title of osteopath, as he believed that this was, in fact, what he was doing. Later, when that designation became reserved to those who had completed a specified training program, he elected to describe himself as a « manual therapist. » As his reputation grew, he drew the attention of many health-care professionals interested in this new method. Amongst these observers were a massage therapist, Oswald Rentsch, four chiropractors, Keith Davis, Nigel Love, Kevin Neave and Romney Smeeton, and an osteopath, Kevin Ryan.