As Irene Gauthier’s daughter, Kathy grew up experiencing massage and bodywork as a normal part of everyday life. In her infancy, Irene’s clients gave Kathy her bottle as they sat under the hair dryer and Irene practiced reflexology on their feet. Kathy has countless memories of her mom practicing massage in the basement of her childhood home. Attending massage conventions with Mom exposed her to a variety of bodywork modalities and natural health practices. When Kathy was a teenager, Irene began teaching massage in their basement. All of this provided Kathy with a broad knowledge of massage and complementary healing, and a profound sense of their positive effects.
After Kathy graduated from college, she joined forces with her mother to run the new massage school Irene was opening in 1987. Never one to rest on her laurels, Kathy immediately began to think of ways to improve the school. Just as Irene had an innate ability as a healer, Kathy was a natural at managing and developing the school. Working behind the scenes, she dedicated herself to providing the best educational experience possible. Having made a commitment to quality, Kathy took on the daunting task of earning National Accreditation for the school. After achieving initial accreditation through ACCET, Kathy continued to refine the schools policies and procedures until in 2007 the school received a coveted five year accreditation, the highest level an institution can earn.
Together, mother and daughter grew the business over the years until it became the much beloved Irene’s Myomassology Institute of today. As they outgrew their facilities on Ten Mile, they decided to build a state of the art massage school. After purchasing property on Franklin Road, Kathy’s goal was to create an environment in keeping with the school’s mission and reputation. She immersed herself in the design and building process. “I knew we needed a space that would honor and express Mom’s lifetime commitment to whole body healing.” With this intention, Kathy supervised every aspect of the building process, from approving architectural plans to selecting eco-friendly building materials and furnishings. The result shines through at the institute’s home in Southfield.
In keeping with her holistic vision for the school, Kathy has always had a strong desire to facilitate student growth at Irene’s, which motivates her to provide the best program in bodywork available. She recognized long ago the personal development experience that accompanied her students’ massage education. It brings her great satisfaction to know that each graduate gains an increased sense self esteem and inner peace.
Following her mother’s philosophy that we are students throughout our lives, Kathy continues to seek ways to improve and grow personally and professionally. She regularly attends national conferences of the various professional massage associations. In addition, she goes to lectures and classes held by motivational speakers and spiritual leaders, always looking for elements she can include at her school.
Another lesson Kathy learned from her mother is the importance of maintaining good health. Irene’s voice still rings in her ears saying, “Your body is a temple.” This message instilled in her an interest in natural health that led her to include a wide variety of holistic health methods in the curriculum. Students learn good health and nutritional practices in their core curriculum.
In keeping with Irene’s sense of compassion, Kathy finds joy in helping others. Under her leadership, Irene’s Myomassology Institute has partnered with numerous charities at events, and donated directly in response to public and private needs. For its employees, the school is a family, and Kathy has a long history of lending to, giving for, and caring about her family. She takes great pleasure in making Irene’s an environment of kindness and giving. Being fully aware of the local economy's struggles, she provides free wellness classes for the public. It saddens Kathy to see such a large segment of the population struggle with health issues that could easily be resolved with lifestyle changes. Complimentary yoga, healthy cooking, meditation and natural healing classes are routinely held at the school for those who could not otherwise afford to access this information.
Intensely committed to protecting the best interests of her graduates and continued growth of the profession, Kathy worked tirelessly in getting the State’s Massage Licensure Bill passed. She routinely attends meetings of the board to offer input for perfecting the rule’s process. As a member of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, she contributes to its goal of creating industry guidelines and standards. She continues to travel the world to identify new bodywork modalities that can be incorporated in the school’s curriculum.
Kathy is also a fervent supporter of eco-friendly green technologies and animal rights and contributes generously to both causes. In 2010 she purchased a major solar energy installation for the school, the first of its kind in Southfield. In 2013 she purchased an American made fully electric automobile. She is also an avid supporter of Michigan Animal Rescue League, Woodstock Animal Sanctuary, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
As Irene's Myomassology Institute continues to flourish, Kathy's vision remains clear. The school that began as a way for her mother to share her passion and wisdom will remain true to its roots. Sharing health, love, compassion, respect for the Earth and all its inhabitants, and an unrelenting quest to learn and grow is Irene's legacy, and Kathy continues to carry it forward with pride.