Erin Aube Graduated from Irene’s September 2015
Irene’s – Why did you choose massage therapy as a career?
Erin – It was a winding path, I sometimes look at as a river. A lot of bends and twists shaped my decision. I have a background in Fine Art and Sculpting and worked for many years as a professional clay modeler for design companies. During my art studies at CCS, I often focused on figurative sculpture and drawing. I loved how beautiful the human form was. During my design career, I often felt like I wanted to connect with others and help but always felt a barrier to that being in a corporate environment. During a solo trip I took to New Zealand I met a very lovely couple who had a much more in tune view of life with nature and with their own health and professions. I realized that I loved my work but wanted to help others more. My current career at the time and the work environment would not give me that. This couple helped me see this just by experiencing new views and getting out of my comfort zone. When I came home I started researching naturopathic degrees and schools and found many started with Massage in their programs. I thought I would start the journey to becoming a certified Naturopathic Doctor but I felt some of these programs were not in-depth or long enough to really fully understand the body. So I chose to start my journey at the best massage school (Irene’s) instead and go from there. This and having a very good friend of mine who had attended Irene’s Myomassology really helped steer me to massage as a focus. After attending Irene’s I became so interested in massage I decided to forgo the Naturopathic Degree for now and focus on the many things I could offer through massage. I love that I am always learning more about the body and mind. I also love the relief I can bring others. It’s so rewarding and it translated very well from my clay sculpting experiences! My hands were already very sensitive to the surface and it really has helped me have attuned palpation skills.
Irene’s – Where do you practice massage therapy?
Erin – I practice massage therapy at my own practice called Blue Tree Body Works in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have paired my business up within a PT practice called North Woodward Rehabilitation which has wonderfully talented Physical therapists. It was always my goal to offer a very technical massage to be able to help those with injuries of all kinds. These injuries include joint replacements, post-operative pain, sports injuries and maintenance, spinal injuries, and diseases such as MS and Parkinson’s. However, I also wanted to offer relaxation and a beautiful setting. I’ve found many places only offer clinical or spa settings, one or the other but not combined. It occurred to me that it may be beneficial to my clients to receive both relaxation and medical massage techniques. I also teach a class called Happy Baby Massage although it is currently on hold until COVID calms and becomes safer for infants. I am certified by Infant Massage USA to lead classes teaching parents about their infant’s communication and massage techniques for encouraging and strengthening a healthy bonding experience. I can also work in NICU settings helping parents learn safe and caring touch for their premature babies. I offer prenatal massage as well. I love to say during a prenatal massage, “this is your baby’s very first massage”!
Irene’s – What is the most rewarding part of your massage career?
Erin – The most rewarding part of my career is connecting with my clients and going home knowing that what I am doing is helping them feel better. It’s so wonderful to see their healing firsthand and see the happiness that creates for them. I am honored to be a part of that journey. They bring a lot of fun to the table as well. It feels like having an extended family in our combined practice between the lovely clients, the caring team of PTs, Techs, and me. It’s taken time to find the best fit for me. I feel so grateful to finally have found it and so glad I did not give up each time I transitioned through different types of settings.
Irene’s – Do you have a favorite memory from massage school?
Erin – One of my favorite memories at massage school was when I was asked how I did it. I had no idea what the instructor was talking about. I was nearing the end of my schooling and had just taken the MBLEX licensing exam. I was not at all confident that I had passed and had not yet received my official score. I tend to over-study, thinking I am not retaining as much as I should. I put in many extra hours in the student clinic as well trying to practice techniques that I felt I needed more time with. Apparently, I ended up not only passing but getting a very high score. Looking back on it I remember feeling nauseated coming out of the test building and getting into my car for what felt like a very long drive home. I learned a lot about my own abilities that day, and I previously really underestimated myself.
Irene’s – What was the best class you took at Irene’s massage school?
Erin – That’s a really hard question because they are all so great! I loved Thai massage. Although it is not the main focus of my practice, it was the very first elective I took and I loved all of the connections we had as a group. It was so inspiring to see so many others being vulnerable and trusting of each other in one space. I feel like we need more of that in the world. Randy Fillion was a fun teacher to learn from. As we’re all the teachers at Irene’s!
Irene’s – What bodywork modalities or massage techniques do you find most effective?
Erin – I find that a combination of keen assessment and communication with my clients, along with a combo of PNF techniques, pressure points, range of motion, cross-fiber friction, heat application or ice along with some Swedish massage, and guided breathing is a winning recipe. I also use lymphatic drainage if needed and a handful of other techniques. Each client’s needs are so individual and can vary greatly from one session to the next. So I feel checking in with each person to truly understand the complexity of what may be going on is very important to lasting relief.
Irene’s – What was your greatest success with a massage client?
Erin – One of my greatest successes with a massage client was a young gentleman who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. I worked almost exclusively with this demographic for a few years. For three years he had been receiving a massage from others and could not extend his arm. It was in constant flexion. After two sessions; I was able to treat the shoulder complex, his chest and arms opened up at the elbow to finally extend. He started weeping and I was worried I had hurt him. He said, “no I am not crying because you hurt me, I am crying because this is the first time since the accident that anyone has been able to really help me this much!” We were both crying at that point. Happy tears.
Irene’s – Where is the first place you worked after you graduated from massage school?
Erin – The first place I worked after massage school was at a Spa. I value the experience but often found myself bored and very tired mentally. I knew then, that I wanted to focus more on therapeutic modalities like PNF, Lymphatic Drainage, Sports Massage, Prenatal, and more goal-oriented practice. I felt like clients were coming and going and it was not often enough to give them lasting results for pain relief or posture improvements. I made a decision to create my own practice after that.
Irene’s – What do you do for self-care to provide longevity for your massage career?
Erin – In order to keep myself from injury and keep my mind healthy I do many things. I do yoga a few times a week; I enjoy rock climbing in the summer and ice climbing in the winter. I often go to the sauna if I am feeling really sore or foam rolling my tired muscles. I trade massage services with other therapists. Sometimes, I just need a day to myself quiet at home because it can be mentally demanding to be “on” all day. I also try to travel and experience new things as much as I can. It takes a lot out of me to do what I do with massage, so I also have to put a lot back into my own health and happiness. Also, eating a lot of veggies and generally eating healthy if possible help keep my energy up. Sleep is the key to daily recovery. We can’t all eat, sleep or exercise exactly how we want every day but even if it’s 70-80% of the time and it’s mostly consistent helps so much. I also am conscious of what I digest mentally, definitely not watching the media daily. I keep up on current events but I am also careful what I fill my mind with. Having close friendships is important too. So many things!
Irene’s – To what do you attribute your success as a massage therapist?
Erin – Listening to my client’s needs and goals and adjusting my own to meet them where they are. Listening to understand is so very important. I will often ask new clients what they like or didn’t like about previous massage experiences they’ve had. This really helps me hear what it is they may be searching for that someone else might have missed the mark on. It also builds trust and confidence. Being able to communicate confidently in a supportive way before, during, and after a session with a client is a foundation for a great therapeutic client/therapist relationship. I’ve had my best successes when I remember to use these foundations. Listening with my ears, my hands, my eyes, and my head and heart in a compassionate way. We can all use more honest compassion. Also not willing to give up when I was in a challenging situation or something that didn’t feel like it fit right as far as the place of work or technique used. I come from a creative background so I use my creativity to solve problems very often.
Irene’s – What marketing do you feel has worked best to promote your massage practice?
Erin – I feel that having a good professional website and simply word of mouth has worked well for me. It takes time to build a practice and it didn’t start off easy but I have not had to spend much on marketing as I get many referrals from my clients who share their experiences with family and friends. I receive an incredible amount of referrals from the amazing staff at North Woodward Rehabilitation where my practice is located. It took building relationships and trust within the team as well. I also made sure to create a profile on Yelp and Google.
Irene’s – What do you feel was the biggest mistake you made as a massage therapist and how did you address it?
Erin – The biggest mistake I made as a therapist was overworking myself to make ends meet. I didn’t truly see the value of my own skills and was accepting subpar jobs that didn’t pay well enough. So I would have to work many more sessions to help myself pay bills and that along with not having the confidence to have good boundaries about my schedule led to an injury. I ended up with tennis elbow so badly I could not even open a jar of jam and had to have surgery. It’s healed now thankfully, and I have found a better balance, but it took time to find what my body and mind could handle and not handle well. I learned to speak up for my own needs much better and to express in a professional way why those are important. I also cut down on my schedule and compact it into three long days with four in between. I recover better doing this than working a five or six-day lighter day schedule.
Irene’s – What continuing education have you taken after graduating from massage school?
Erin – I have taken training with Infant Massage USA and completed my infant massage parent/baby instructor certification. I have taken courses with Dr. Benjamin for orthopedic massage and have had hands-on training within a spinal cord and traumatic brain injury clinic. I also have had some basic training in myofascial release and am hoping to train soon for Veteran specific needs and a few other exciting opportunities.
Irene’s – Do you have any advice for new massage therapists?
Erin – Keep learning and being curious. There is so much to learn about the body. It seems impossible but with practice and being very open to feedback you can create a healthy thriving business. Listen to your body.
Irene’s – What is the best way for massage clients to contact you?
Erin – Clients can contact me by text or phone at 248-671-4462. I try to respond within 24 hours. Booking ahead is required as I am almost always fully booked a few weeks out. They can also go to my website to learn more about my practice at https://www.bluetreebody.com/.