Lowen Systems: Dynamic Manual Interface




It’s natural to inquire about any therapy with which you may want to receive treatment. Often, clients ask, “Is it like Craniosacral Therapy, or Neuromuscular Therapy, or Rolfing, or Visceral Manipulation?” Lowen Systems Dynamic Manual Interface (DMI) is as different from other forms of therapy as the aforementioned forms are from each other. This field is still in development. The best descriptions we can provide are the foundations and rationales for what we are currently teaching.

Frank Lowen is a massage therapist who studied many forms of manual therapy before focusing on Craniosacral Therapy and studying with Osteopath, John Upledger. Later, Frank studied Visceral Manipulation extensively with French Osteopath, Jean-Pierre Barral, with whom he worked closely for fifteen years. Frank served as the Visceral Manipulation Program Director for Upledger Institute for many years before leaving to focus on his own work.  Frank’s development as a manual therapist was greatly influenced by these two great teachers and innovators.  The development of his own work was made possible by what he learned from Barral and Upledger, but his work is not an extension of their teachings.

Frank adopted Barral’s philosophy that “symptoms do not appear until the body’s ability to compensate has been used up”. When a person has symptoms (e.g., pain, itching, dizziness, weakness, spasm, fatigue, etc.), they usually have patterns and restrictions to which the body has accommodated. Symptoms may have little relationship with the initial or most significant challenge for that individual. Treating symptoms may bring temporary relief, but this is often futile for providing long-term results, regardless of whether the complaint is pain, movement problems or a physiological dysfunction.

DMI is a gentle form of manual intervention aimed at assisting the natural corrective processes that the body continuously undertakes to achieve balance and restore health. The body’s ability to self-correct is diminished when it is overwhelmed by excessive tensions, including those of physical and emotional natures. Our goal in treatment is always to discern what the body is struggling to do, and provide the assistance it needs to re-establish these processes.

Although manual therapists do not diagnose, through this training , we learn how to listen to what is happening (or not happening) in the body. By treating that which the body is having difficulty compensating for, we may be able to free things up sufficiently so the body’s self-corrective mechanisms can function adequately. We can also assist these processes if we are able to meet the body with a contact which it interprets as helpful and not invasive.


What conditions respond favorably to Lowen Systems Dynamic Manual Interface? We always have a positive impact, although our goal is not to “cure,” but to assist the body in self-correction. Often, clients receive significant relief from symptoms in a single session. There is always some objective change in each session. Some people report improved patterns of sleep, movement, elimination etc., but may not notice a change in their symptoms within the first few sessions. Others notice immediate improvement in the primary area of concern after the first session.

A client may have shoulder pain with decreased motion, yet be unaware of tensions in their heart and lungs. We may pay considerable attention to pulmonary system dynamics to effect a change in the shoulder; the lungs and heart are improved. The client may not have been aware that tension in the chest was contributing to shoulder pain, but they invariably notice the difference after it’s treated. This is more the rule than the exception. Most of us are often not aware of many problems that have great significance to our health.

Another person may have knee pain. The key issue may be caused by tension in the left kidney, stomach and pancreas, as a result of inflammatory process from an old infection. Because the organs can no longer glide across each other as they should, trunk movement is altered, which creates a compensating movement in the left leg. As a result, the leg changes the way it interacts while bearing and shifting weight with every movement. This causes abnormal stresses in the hip, knee, foot and/or ankle. The knee just happens to be where the person is feeling pain, possibly because of prior injury, or because there is a biomechanical dysfunction in the knee. The knee problem will not heal until the cause (left kidney tension) is addressed. When the main abnormal tensions are eliminated, symptoms are resolved, even if they are not directly addressed. Often, we can speed up this process by working with the specific tissues.

We have simplified the philosophy and explanations of Lowen Systems Dynamic Manual Interface so those who seek treatment can have a working model of this system.  Students of this work are exposed to a more complex philosophy which correlates with some of the most current research on the human body and its regulation and responses.