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‘My back pain inspired me to retrain in France as a Bowen therapist’

In the UK Elaine Cronin was a poultry specialist but severe back pain changed the course of her new French life

Elaine Cronin, 47, left behind a career in poultry to move to France in 2003; her own back pain lead her to retrain Pic: Elaine Cronin / Moonborne / andras_csontos

When my 51-year-old husband Stewart, a professional golfer, and I decided to make the move to France in 2003, it was on the spur of the moment.

Friends had bought a property in Limousin in 2000 and set themselves up as farmers, and after visiting them we decided to take the plunge ourselves.

I was a poultry specialist

In the UK, I had worked as a poultry specialist after completing a degree at Harper Adams University. 

I won two scholarships that allowed me to work in the US, Holland, Denmark and Sweden, gaining valuable experience in all areas of poultry production.

In the summer of 2003, after we had made our decision to move, I quit my job to concentrate efforts on my already-established aloe vera-based business. 

It was a work-from-home role and one I felt I could successfully continue as we transitioned into our new lives. 

Stewart was given a CDI to work at our friend’s farm, so we were in the system immediately, although he has been back working as a golf pro since 2006.

Back problems changed my life

Working on the aloe vera company in France proved difficult because of my language skills at the time, so my main market remained in the UK.

After spending some time working and travelling, I pivoted, becoming a representative instead for a greetings card company in 2006.

It was when I developed back problems in 2004 that my life really changed. 

Read more: 250 centres across France offer relief for chronic pain sufferers

I started to suffer pain regularly and, speaking to a homeopath in the UK, was told that Bowen therapy, which works on muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue to relieve acute and chronic pain, as well as physical and emotional stress – would help. 

I was struggling and, even though I had never heard of the therapy before, was keen to try it.

Bowen therapy was miraculous

I found a therapist in Limousin and the treatment was miraculous. After two sessions I was symptom-free.

I raved about the therapy to everyone I knew and was so enthusiastic that many of them wanted to try it too. 

I managed to get the therapist to come to our home in Vasles, Deux-Sèvres, and run a clinic for friends and local people.

Eventually, the travelling became too much for him, but I managed to find another therapist, Elsa, locally. It was she who suggested I train as a therapist myself. 

It was not something that had ever occurred to me and I was unsure I would be able to do it, but Elsa was really encouraging.

I’m glad I retrained in France not UK

In 2013 I looked into courses and, to my delight, my godfather, who has also benefited from Bowen, offered to pay for my professional training.

Initially, I thought I might go to the UK for this as, although I spoke French, I was not fluent. However, in the end I decided to train in France. 

I am so glad I did. I have all the terminology I need to explain how Bowen therapy works to French clients, something I might have lacked had I trained in the UK.

The training consisted of five modules, each lasting five days, between 2013 and 2015, as well as lots of practice in between.

I met a lady called Suzanne, now a good friend, on the course who lived fairly locally.

We would travel to the courses together and meet up each week to practise. This time we spent together ended up being hugely important to our Bowen proficiency. 

85% of my customers are French

After qualifying in 2015, I gave up my card business to focus on my practice and soon built up a solid customer base. 

When we moved for Stewart’s job in 2018, I had to build it up again, but there was plenty of interest.

Now about 85% of my customers are French, and I work primarily from a dedicated treatment room at our home in Terves, although I do travel for group appointments.

I really believe in Bowen and want to give clients the best experience I can. 

The actual treatment takes about an hour, but I block almost twice that for every client so we have time to get to know each other and I understand their needs.

Clients’ pain melts away

Working in the poultry industry was interesting, and I enjoyed connecting with people when running my skincare and card businesses. But nothing compares to the satisfaction you get when a client’s pain melts away, or they tell you how much the treatment has improved their life.

These days, I love what I do so much that I will never look for another career. 

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