Member In The Spotlight: Claire Blum-DeStevens
Before Reflexology: For 15 years I worked in Maine as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) and then moved to Upstate New York to be near my husband’s family. I worked as a COTA for 13 years near Syracuse, NY with various populations; children in the school system, K-12, and some pre-school age children, Mental Health, Rehabilitation and Geriatric Services.
As a COTA in Maine, I had OT students. In 1996, one of my students, Tina Allen asked me if I wanted to take an Adult Ed class with her in Camden, Me. I agreed, having no idea what Reflexology was. The teacher was Janet Stetser, and Susan Miller was her assistant. The class was great and it felt so good. I was having problems with plantar fasciitis, vertigo and migraines at the time. By the end of the classes, my vertigo and migraines were so much better. Susan came to my house to give me a couple of treatments. The plantar fasciitis was better also.
After I finished taking the Adult Ed class, I was so excited about reflexology! Soon I realized that Reflexology could be used in my Occupational Therapy practice. I tried using it to provide deep pressure input to help organize children with attention difficulties. The children were more focused afterwards. Then I worked in Rehab and tried Reflexology on the hands with stroke patients. The people showed increased movement with arms. I talked about what I was doing with my supervisors. They were not happy with me doing reflexology. No one knew enough about it. I decide that I would take the 4 month course because I saw the value of reflexology. I found out that I could take the course on the weekends and signed up. I had a 9 year old and a 12 year old at home and was working full-time.
I loved it and completed Myra Achorn’s “Treat Your Feet” School in Augusta, Maine in December 2003. I became certified in January 2005. During the time I took the course, I became more aware of my abilities as a healer. People at my job thought I was doing crazy things and they wanted to move me to only working with children. I became frustrated and looked for work in Maine, and also New York as I wanted to return there. There was no OT in Maine close to me. I found a job in a hospital in Syracuse, NY on a new rehab unit. So back to NY my whole family moved, to live with my sister-in-law while we found land and built another house.
My new found knowledge to heal people did not go over well in New York either. After 3 months, I was let go. I could not believe it. Here I had moved to New York, expecting to start on a whole new career adventure and ran into a wall. It turned out besides not having OT work, I could not do Reflexology. Finding out that I had Adult onset Attention Deficit disorder, I reluctantly took medication for it and found a job in a Nursing Home. I was passionate about the elderly getting excellent care. All my patients felt like my grandmother to me, and I wanted them to be treated as such. The many medications that my patients were taking were very upsetting to me. I realized that I was not helping enough people as a COTA and in January 2005 decided to get my masters in Health Administration.
I needed more time to do schoolwork, but needed to still work. I found a job working in schools doing OT. For 16 months, I worked and completed the coursework online by August 2006. I loved going to school online and had never done so well in school before. The Attention Deficit medication was great.
I forgot to mention that I must have been learning disabled in school but no one ever identified me. I was a B student in school and had to study harder than anyone else because it was difficult to retain information. When I went to College at Oswego State, I was a bio major but did not do well. When I went back home to Queens, NY, I changed my major to Art Education. When I first went back, my dad who was a doctor recommended that I go see a special eye doctor. It turned out that I had a lazy eye and went for exercises for a year. After that I was not reading in a tunnel anymore and did better in college. I was able to complete a BA in Art Education.
“A Road bump in becoming a reflexologist.” That is an understatement. I think I win the award for the longest one ever!!!!! Soon after I completed the coursework for Reflexology, I took a job in New York State. I did not do my research and did not realize that in order to do Reflexology in New York State. I would have to be a massage therapist or a 4-year degree Occupational Therapist.
When I first returned to New York, without knowing that I was not supposed to practice, I completed some sessions in a Health food store. One woman was so interested that she said that she wanted to come to my house and have another session. During the session, someone called and said that I was not supposed to be practicing as I was only a COTA and she was going to report me to the state. Soon I came to the conclusion that the woman that came to my house was somehow related to the person who called and had set me up. Soon I received a letter from the state that I should not be practicing. So I was unable to practice for 13 years. I gave sessions for family members and friends. As a Young Living member, I would go to meetings and provide sessions during the meetings. I had met a woman who also did reflexology, who helped me to become involved with Essential Oils.
Passionate about Sensory Integration working In Occupational Therapy, I realized that reflexology was a way to give input to the neurotransmitters and organize the body to help kids with autism and people who had a stroke regain feeling and ability to use a leg, arm or improve speech. When I started working in rehab, I would give reflexology to people that had a stroke and notice marked improvement with regaining movement. Being an assistant, my supervisors and other therapists did not know what reflexology was. They became concerned about the contraindications. I decided that I wanted to become certified so that I would be more knowledgeable and my coworkers would trust my clinical decisions. Taking the reflexology course gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed. I ended up finishing the course work for Reflexology in beginning of December 2003 and moving back to Upper New York State.
I have been a MCR member for a year since I came back to Maine September 11, 2016, when I moved back to Maine to live in my mother’s house after she had passed away. Retiring from OT, I decided that I would work as an Ed. Tech and work on creating a business in Reflexology in Maine. Presently, I have secured a spot in a hair salon in the afternoons and make myself available to clientele who are waiting to have their hair processed.
I envision working at a wellness center and having some clients that I see in their home. When I have a decent enough client base, I would like to do a research paper on the effects of reflexology on people who have had strokes and on the autism spectrum. Remembering all the work I have done to better myself is encouraging and maybe will give me the courage to develop a practice.
It was important for me to be a member so that I could network with members and learn more about how to create my business. In the future, I would like to learn more about reflexology, cranial sacral release, and myofascial release. My hobbies are swimming, skiing, reading, art exhibits, boating and kayaking. Boating and kayaking are my favorite things at the moment. AND I love my pets!
For fun, I like to go to movies and music concerts, and out to eat. For my health, I swim, walk the dog, do spinning, and Pilates.
Claire lives in Cushing ME and works mostly in Thomaston and surrounding areas.