Milton J. Albrecht was the first Bowen therapist educated outside of Australia, sponsoring the first Bowen seminar held in the U.S., in September 1989. He became internationally well-known for his progressive interpretation of Tom Bowen's Australian modality.
Milton Joseph Albrecht – A loving tribute by Deni Larimore Albrecht
Born on November 12, 1948, Milton was a lifelong resident of Auburn, California. He had already established a career as a highly regarded automotive machinist, when he and I married in April 1985. Milton and I were first briefly introduced when I was around 13 years old but we had no connection for the next 15 years. When we met again in September 1984, I was confined to a wheelchair due to a diagnosis, 11 years earlier, of multiple sclerosis.
On a solo trip to visit my parents in Sydney, Australia, in January, 1989, I had my first two Bowen treatments from Ossie Rentsch (a student of Tom Bowen). Ossie and his wife Elaine were sheep ranchers in Victoria, who had known my folks for years, and Mother & Dad felt sure he could help me. A few months later, Ossie flew to San Francisco to organize his first North American Bowen training seminars, and Milton met him at the airport. Spending the first night at our house, Ossie briefly taught Milton the fundamentals of Bowen, because I had been noticing improvements from those first treatments in January. September 10-12, 1989, Milton and I sponsored the first Bowen seminar held outside of Australia/New Zealand, and Milton earned the first Bowen therapy diploma in North America. Although he took the class primarily to help me. Ossie and Elaine were so impressed with his natural abilities and talent, they suggested Milton become a full-time Bowen therapist. Because he was already quite enthusiastic, Milton took the step that would change not only his life, but the lives of thousands. We were also asked to coordinate Ossie’s organization, Bowtech, here in North America, and in addition, began the first weekly student practice sessions, which we continued in our home for many years.
Milton worked very hard to promote Bowen, and treated everyone he could, friends and family alike. To add state legitimacy, he quickly enrolled in a general massage course, to earn a certificate in massage therapy (CMT). The instructors raved about his bodywork abilities, but Milton continually promoted Bowen, and demonstrated it as often as possible. He even secretly used Bowen during the final practical exam, and his instructor proclaimed it the best “massage” he had ever experienced.
Because of his mechanical background, Milton understood the body worked like a machine, and applied this understanding to each client he worked with. His granddaughter was born with a severe clubfoot, and after just one Bowen session, it began correcting itself. Doctors were astounded as she had been scheduled for corrective surgery, and today, that baby is a 17-year-old flyer on her high school cheerleading team. One of Milton’s uncles was experiencing chest pain and difficulty breathing, and Milton used Bowen to bring about immediate relief. A few years later, this procedure (Bowen therapists call these “moves” ) came to the attention of renowned cardiologists in San Francisco, who contacted Milton about the drastic improvements they were noticing in mutual patients. (Students came to know this as the “Uncle Frank” move.)
Milton’s passion for Bowen constantly overflowed, and he could not wait to show Ossie his new developments. Ossie would always remark, "well, is it Bowen?”, and of course, the answer was always yes. At that time, Bowtech had only two courses, beginning and final testing, and Ossie and Elaine Rentsch traveled to North America once or twice a year, to conduct courses in several regions of the US and Canada. In September 1992, for an article about Tom Bowen, Ossie was interviewed by Massage Magazine. But he couldn’t make the photo shoot, so the sidebar included pictures of Milton using Bowen with a very willing reporter. (I was asked to write the description.)
Due to Milton’s popularity, Auburn classes were always full. So realizing even further Milton’s genius, in 1994, Ossie asked Milton to teach beginning Bowtech classes. As he became the first Bowen instructor not taught directly by Tom Bowen, delighted clients flocked to Milton’s classes. In addition, Milton traveled throughout the US with the Ossie and Elaine Rentsche to seminar venues, alternative medical conventions, and even the prestigious HeartMath at Stanford, Milton demonstrated the effectiveness of Bowen therapy, as Ossie lectured. In one example, Milton used Bowen therapy to turn a breach baby in the womb. (To everyone’s surprise, except Milton, the baby was later delivered without complications!).
By this time, Milton’s clientele was huge, and 60% of his clients were new, each day! As was the case with Tom Bowen, Milton never advertised, and even though he saw 25 people a day, six days a week, his reputation grew strictly by word of mouth. He usually saw 4 people each hour and because there are usually 2- to 10-minute waiting periods between moves, Milton could go from client to client. He would often ask the client's family or friends to observe the session so he could explain, not only what he was doing, but how they could help themselves in the future. Milt (as I called him) was interviewed several times by Cary Nosler (Captain Carrot) on his Healthy Living radio program. Milton demonstrated the Bowen to the San Francisco 49er football head trainer who unfortunately did not send any of his therapists to the classes. The effectiveness was not lost, however, on the athletes Milton initially treated, and pro (and soon college) athletes began having Bowen sessions, most in secret (during that time, athletes were barred from receiving any alternative healing).
People were flying in from all over the country for treatments and because Milton grasped Bowen therapy so completely, they either wanted to take the seminar, or recommended a colleague. In every situation, he communicated his thorough understanding, and clients from several American cities pleaded with him to teach a class in their area. With Ossie’s willing approval, he also taught beginning classes throughout the country. Traveling to meet me in Queensland, Australia, in 1995, Milton assisted Ossie in classes and demonstrations on the Sunshine Coast, and taught one on his own in Eagle Heights, the town where my family lived.
1997 was eight years after he had first learned Bowen, and Milton thoroughly understood each of the 12 beginning lessons. In addition, he had developed a great many new moves, all based on Bowen. Ossie and Elaine Rentschtschtsch were always eager to see Milton’s discoveries, and early in the year, asked him to write down all that he could remember. Milton outlined 14 pages of advanced discoveries, and faxed them to Australia. Little did we realize that in six months, Ossie and Elaine would ask Milton and I (as well as several other international coordinators) to leave Bowtech. They even cut ties with some very capable medical professionals who were beginning Bowen research.
We were initially quite stunned, but there really had been clues for months. Although the Ossie and Elaine Rentsch offered no rational reasons for this breakup, Milton cautioned Ossie that he would continue practicing and teaching what had become the great love of his life (next to me, of course…). Milton had a great many students throughout the country and although we did not understand Ossie and Elaine Rentsch's actions, we wrote a letter to each student announcing the separation and detailed Milton’s and my intended course of action.
We named Milton’s proposal Bowen Therapy International. The goals were to develop and promote Milton’s interpretation of Tom Bowen’s theories, plus establish and enforce instruction and quality control of these theories. Another goal of BTI was to promote research, more specifically, Dr. JoAnne Whitaker’s innovative studies (Dr. Whitaker had also been unceremoniously dropped).
Naturally, Milton’s students and family were shocked that he was being treated with such disrespect, and they implored him to quickly develop an advanced class. Milton's version more accomplished and comprehensive. For this reason, Milton’s premier class was an advanced level (Level IV), containing 14 innovative lessons. He felt a good instructor was only effective when they continued doing Bowen on a daily basis, and Milton enlisted advanced students who could instruct his work in other parts of the country. In addition, we traveled to Australia, where we researched Tom Bowen (and visited students and family). Milton’s skillful mastery of Bowen therapy, as well as his quick wit, attracted people from many differing professions, and made his classes highly sought-after. We heard from pupils of all ages, that Bowen Therapy classes with Milton Albrecht were truly mountaintop experiences... for both students and instructor.
The first Level I-II (beginning) class for Bowen Therapy International was held in June 1999. Because Milton’s practice was booked up about three weeks in advance (and because he was a perfectionist), writing the manual had been gradual. Using beautiful computer graphics, Milt enlisted a close friend, Doug Musso, (a dentist) to help him describe human anatomy. One page of the manual was devoted entirely to an explanation of Tom Bowen’s philosophy (something that had not been done before). Milton also sprinkled his own theories throughout the lessons, always careful to define which thoughts were his own. He did not change Ossie's interpretation of the basic 12 beginning lessons, but developed easier, more accurate ways they could be learned and used. Neither Milton nor Tom Bowen had time to write down actual moves, and it was Milton’s belief that Bowen often used differing procedures for similar ailments, depending on the client. He also felt that Bowen passed on very little of what he actually used, to the six men he taught. Because they all had different professions, each had interpreted Bowen’s philosophies according to their own background.
Now through BTI, Milton continued to introduce Bowen to numerous health organizations, and was interviewed on local radio several times. In October 1997, Milton and Dr. Whitaker traveled to San Diego for a presentation to the Academy of Environmental Medicine, the first traditional medical journal to recognize and publish empirical research on Bowen therapy. Milton’s demonstration was such a hit, the next presenter was moved forward, and Milton was inundated by interested physicians. Several months later, my sister, Lois Larimore, had created and produced a TV show about alternative healing methods, and flew Milton to Toronto in November 1999, for an interview. The show is called, “the Age of e”, and the East Meets West episode can still be viewed throughout the world.
Milton enjoyed teaching and engaging in powerful discussion with an inquisitive public, but his first love was always the one on one experience with his clients. There were very few cases he couldn’t help, and most were healed within one session. He would always ask family members to watch while he worked, explaining how they could help themselves in the future. Milton had bridged the gap between traditional and alternative medicine, and hospitals asked him to consult, and local medical doctors referred to him. In between clients, he could be found on the phone, describing a simple procedure the caller could use, nearly always with positive results.
Many times, Milton told me he believed he was “born to do Bowen”, and awoke each morning excited about what new ailments and maladies would come through the door. Milton understood the body is its own best physician, and although the therapist’s intent plays a role, it is important to not let the ego get in the way. Considering Milton’s bodywork virtuosity, his humility was astonishing, his confidence supreme, yet subtle. He often remarked that the therapist should remember to get out of the way, “so nerves and muscles could remember their job descriptions”.
Unfortunately, Milton’s body sometimes had a difficult time remembering its own job description, and by 2000, was beginning to grow weary. Poor diet, stress and nicotine had gradually taken their toll, and even though he had quit drinking in the early 1990s, the combination was taking its toll on a cardiac system that was weak to begin with. (Although it's been written otherwise, Milton never drank while working on clients or teaching classes.) One of Milton’s cardiac moves had improved heart rhythms, and because he experimented on himself whenever possible, had discovered its remarkable effects on his own intermittent heart murmur. But the worn-down system had difficulty eliminating fluid, and he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2002. On January 14, 2003, Milton made his passage to the next life, and although the cause of death was technically COPD, Milton’s heart, and time, just gave out.
However, his heart goes on through every person who gives and receives the Bowen Technique in North America. Because of Milton’s energetic and passionate promotion, the Bowen Technique continues on today.
Sharing those years with Milt was a whirlwind experience, and I’m still here, long past my original prognosis, because I have continued to receive Bowen Therapy from 1989 to the present. Tom Bowen and Milton Albrecht were both extraordinary men, and for me, it has been an honor to have played just a small role in helping to introduce such a miraculous healing modality as the Bowen Technique.