Makes getting busted a good thing

| Senior Scene Editor

“Wanna give me a back rub?” Chances are you’ve asked this of one of your friends at some point, or perhaps you make the request on a regular basis if you’re especially ballsy. And the response generally goes something like this: your friend scoffs at you and reacts with a firm “no.” Or maybe you get the classic “I’ll do you if you do me,” at which point you sigh and retract your request.

With the introduction of the Stressbusters program on campus, this scenario will become obsolete. Washington University students and faculty prepare to enter a new era of back rubs provided on campus by trained students. Best of all, it’s free.

Rewind several years to when Jordan Friedman, creator of Stressbusters, was in his first year at the University of Maryland, College Park. Upon visiting health services with stomach pain and indigestion, Friedman learned that his ailments were caused by stress. The doctor referred Friedman to a stress management course and, although he was skeptical, the class turned out to be a huge help.

Friedman continued to take classes in stress management as part of his academic field of study, going on to receive his Master of Public Health degree from New York University. While at NYU, Friedman did field work in the health promotion office at Columbia University, which he later went on to direct. It was then, in 1996, that Stressbusters was born. Due to instant popularity at Columbia, Stressbusters soon spread to other schools: Johns Hopkins, NYU, St. John’s, Harvard and now, Washington University.

The mission of Stressbusters is “to provide sustained relaxation opportunities, to increase wellness outreach, to provide stress reduction skills and to increase visibility of wellness programs on campus.”

To achieve these goals, students on campus apply to go through an extensive, yet enjoyable training program (think learning to give back rubs on each other) that prepares them to be official “Stressbusters.” A licensed massage therapist (LMT) teaches trainees the skills essential to being a successful Stressbuster, including how to communicate with clients, information about body areas and back rub techniques.

Another element of training is a course called “Stress and Relaxation 101” that teaches the trainees what stress is and how back rubs help; not only are Stressbusters prepared to help with their hands, but they also act as wellness ambassadors by providing health information and referrals to Student Health Services.

Mental Health Promotion Associate Ginny Fendell noted that one of Student Health Services’ favorite elements of Stressbusters is that it is not just for individual students, but also for faculty and groups on campus.

“It’s another way to unite the students with the rest of campus,” she said.

Once students have been trained, Stressbusters will be open for business and conducting events on campus. Popular events at other schools have taken place during midterms at the library, Dance Marathon, Staff Appreciation Day, move-in weekend or study breaks. As an Event Host, the president of a student organization can collaborate with Stressbusters to host an event for their group.

After the events, the “Just Busted” can leave comments on their 5-7 minute back rub experience. Friedman’s favorite thus far is one left by a student who, believe it or not, said it was the first back rub that he or she had ever had.

“That’s why Stressbusters is so amazing,” Friedman explained. “As a student Stressbuster, you can open up this huge door to someone who’s never had a back rub before and they might think it’s awesome and keep coming back. It’s really an amazing opportunity.”

For notifications of future Stressbusters events or to learn how to set up your own Stressbusters event on campus, contact [email protected].

To apply to be a Stressbuster, download the simple application at The first training sessions will be held on Feb. 27 and 28.

Students in Nazareth, Penn. give back rubs in class (Harry Fisher/Allentown Morning Call | MCT)

Students in Nazareth, Penn. give back rubs in class (Harry Fisher/Allentown Morning Call | MCT)

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