Joshua D. Brent Graduated in March 2020


Irene’s – Why did you choose massage therapy as a career?

Joshua – I had become disabled due to multiple spinal surgeries.  During my two-year recovery and rehabilitation period, I was desperately trying to figure out what kind of work, if any, I could perform.  After working with a very talented personal trainer/rehabilitation specialist, he recommended Irene’s as the only school for Massage Therapy to attend.  Massage offered me an ability to stay active, interact with clients, sit, stand, and move during work and a very excellent income per hours worked ratio.


Irene’s – Where do you practice massage therapy? 

Joshua – Currently I work with a great group of people at Hand and Stone Spa in Troy, MI.  While I know some franchises have a deservedly sketchy reputation as employers. I have found them to be an amazing group to work with, and the kindness they have shown in allowing me to take time off when and as needed for physical health issues with no penalties or guilt is, in my experience, incredibly rare to find in an employer.


Irene’s – What is the most rewarding part of your massage career? 

Joshua – My favorite part is when I have a client who has chronic pain unalleviated from medications or traditional surgery or injections, and I am actually able to bring their pain levels down physically and alleviate the anxiety and emotional distress that comes from living with chronic, persistent conditions.


Irene’s – Do you have a favorite memory from massage school? 

Joshua – Many.  But two are the most important.  My practical two tests with Sheila Cope, when she told me that I was meant to be a serious therapeutic massage practitioner.  My other favorite memories are from after graduation when I was able to apprentice in the classroom, and how good it feels to help students through the difficult learning and studying process.


Irene’s – What was the best class you took at Irene’s massage school? 

Joshua – Hands-on with Jeannette Roach.  A close second was Reflexology with Larissa.


Irene’s – What bodywork modalities or massage techniques do you find most effective? 

Joshua – Outside of Effleurage, I lean heavily on positional release, stretching, and joint mobilization, with a dash of fascia release and muscle stripping.  I was never very good at following recipes so I do a lot of blending and combining multiple ideas when treating various body areas.


Irene’s – What was your greatest success with a massage client? 

Joshua – A recent client had been in a severe, nearly life-ending, car crash.  She had experienced multiple structural repair surgeries and lives in a state of chronic pain and health issues.  Being able to relate to a client with shared experiences of chronic pain and an endless march of treatments and specialists, allowed me to hear her in a way I don’t think she felt she had been heard before.  At the end of the session, she called me an angel.  I’m not great at accepting compliments, but that one touched me.


Irene’s – Where is the first place you worked after you graduated from massage school? 

Joshua – Well. Oddly enough, I graduated just in time for the first wave of Covid and the lockdown, so the first place I worked was apprenticing at Irene’s.  I applied at Hand and Stone as soon as the vaccines became available and have been happy there ever since.


Irene’s – What do you do for self-care to provide longevity for your massage career? 

Joshua – I find having a clear goal for my diet, stretching, mild workouts, and self-care, having a plan, and practicing it daily is my best recommendation.  And when all that gets too stressful, grab a sack of Bray’s sliders and some chili fries, put on a tearjerker 80’s movie, and just relax and enjoy life.


Irene’s – To what do you attribute your success as a massage therapist? 

Joshua – That one time in Hands-on class when Jeanette said the first principle of massage is to practice compassion.  I was very wrapped up in correct technique and technical proficiency, and opening up to the empathic, compassionate side of the work, realizing that being selfless in practicing compassion, uniquely changed my life.


Irene’s – What marketing do you feel has worked best to promote your massage practice? 

Joshua – One of the best aspects of choosing to work with Hand and Stone as opposed to being independent, is the freedom I have from having to worry about constantly self-promoting.  Although, I still believe that consistently doing excellent work will result in giving your clients real reasons to recommend you via word-of-mouth recommendations.


Irene’s – What do you feel was the biggest mistake you made as a massage therapist and how did you address it? 

Joshua – How much extra page space do we have here? Lol.  What I have found is that I have to really keep my focus when I have regulars who love talking, and a couple of times I felt I got wrapped in talking and bantering and forgot to focus on the work.  I am not sure if they noticed, but after the session, I knew I did not do my best work.  I started having clients do deep breathing right away and get them to focus on breathing, which allows me to focus on the work.


Irene’s – What continuing education have you taken after graduating from massage school? 

Joshua – So far, the human trafficking continuing education class.  I am currently looking forward to moving further into fascia work, reflexology, and correcting workplace-induced dysfunctions.


Irene’s – Do you have any advice for new massage therapists? 

Joshua – Act and speak professionally and be confident in your interactions with clients!  Make eye contact, be engaging, and listen more than you speak!


Irene’s – What is the best way for massage clients to contact you? 

Joshua – For Spa treatments, contact Hand and Stone Spa in Troy, MI at or call 248-266-4220

For independent service in-home or travel:

Text 313-354-2014 or 

Email to