Division of Expressive Therapies
Professional Title: Assistant Professor of Drama Therapy; Coordinator for the Drama Therapy/Psychodrama Program; Expressive Therapies Doctoral Advisor
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Drama Therapy, Critical Race Feminism, Trauma Studies, Applied Improvisation, Performance Pedagogy, Arts Based Research, Cultural Competency
Area of Work and Concentration at Lesley: Drama Therapy/Psychodrama, Expressive Therapies
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: • Orientation/Integrative Seminar • Research and Evaluation • Thesis Seminar • Theories of Psychodrama and Drama Therapy • Principles and Practices of Drama • Therapy/Psychodrama • Performance: Art, Education, Therapy • Performance and Practice: Art, Education, and Therapy • Multiculturalism in Research • Philosophical Foundations of Expressive Therapies
Education: M.A., Drama Therapy, Concordia University; Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Concordia University; Mastery Certificate, Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery, Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: BooksSajnani, N. & Johnson, D.R. (in press). Trauma-informed drama therapy: Transforming clinics, classrooms, and communities. Springfield, IL: Charles C. ThomasSajnani, N., Muhungi, W.M., Yee, J., Mercer, K., Butler, K., Jones, L., Neira, N.L., J, Matining, M. (2012). Decolonizing “social justice” work: Stories to support organizations, facilitators, and youth working against oppression. Montreal, QC: Girls Action FoundationChaptersSajnani, N., Linds, W., Wong, A., Ndejuru, L., Lu, L., Gareau, P., and Ward, D. (in press). The Living Histories Ensemble: Sharing authority through play, storytelling, and performance in the aftermath of violence, in D. Conrad and A. Sinner (eds.), Creating together: Participatory, community-based and collaborative arts practices and scholarship across Canada. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier UniversitySajnani, N., Wong, A., Ndejuru, L., & Linds, W. (2013). Turning together: Playback theatre, oral history, and arts-based research in the Montreal life stories project. In E. Little, R. Duong, & S. High (Eds.), Remembering war, genocide and other human rights violations: New media and the arts (112-139). Toronto, ON: University of TorontoSajnani, N. (2011). Playback theatre and social change: Reflections from a Montreal workshop, in Neumark, D., and Chagnon, J.,Documenting collaboration: 69 community art projects in Québec and beyond. Montreal: LevierSajnani, N. (2010). Mind the gap: Facilitating transformative witnessing amongst audiences, in Jones, P., Drama as therapy: Clinical work and research into practice. London: RoutledgeSajnani, N.,(2009). Theatre of the oppressed: Drama therapy as cultural dialogue, in Johnson, D.R, & Emunah, R., Current approaches in Drama Therapy. IL: Charles C. Thomas
Peer-Reviewed ArticlesSajnani, N. (2013). The body politic: The relevance of an intersectional framework for therapeutic performance research in drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 40 (3), 382-385Sajnani, N. (2012). The Creative arts therapies and social justice: A conversation between the editors, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 39 (3), 165-167Sajnani, N. (2012). Response/ability: Imagining a critical race feminist paradigm for the creative arts therapies, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 39 (3), 186-191Sajnani, N. (2012). Improvisation and art-based research, Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 3 (1), 79-87Sajnani, N. (2012). The implicated witness: Towards a relational aesthetic in dramatherapy. Dramatherapy: The Journal of the British Association of Dramatherapists, 34 (1), 6-21
Sajnani, N. (2011). Coming into presence: Discovering the ethics and aesthetics of performing oral histories in the Montreal life stories project, Alt. Theatre: Cultural Diversity and the Stage, 9 (1), 40-49Sajnani, N. (2011). The bridge: Towards relational aesthetic inquiry in the Montreal life stories project, Canadian Theatre Review, 148 (1), 18-24
Sajnani,, N., & Mendell, M. (2007). La recherche partenariale : le cas de l’ARUC en economie sociale. Organisations et Territories: Reflexion sur la Gestion, Innovation, et le Développment, 16 (1)Sajnani, N., & Nadeau, D. (2006). Creating safer spaces for immigrant women of color:
Performing the politics ofpossibility. Canadian Woman Studies Journal/Les cahiers de la femme, 25 (1-2), 45-53Sajnani, N. (2004). Strategic narratives: The embodiment of minority discourse in biographical performance. Canadian Theatre Review, 117, 33-37 Journal Special IssueThe Creative Arts Therapies and Social Justice (Contributing Co-Editor, with Frances Kaplan), The Arts in Psychotherapy, 39 (3), (2012).Academic ManuscriptsSajnani, N. (2010) Permeable boundaries: Toward a critical, collaborative performance pedagogy, Doctoral Thesis, Montreal: Concordia UniversityRecent Presentations: Sajnani, N., “Improvising Coexistence: Teaching Cultural Competency in and through Drama Therapy.” Institut für Theatertherapie [Keynote Presentation]. Remscheid, Germany. June 5-8. 2014.Sajnani, N., Wong, A., Linds, W., Ndejuru, L., Gareau, P., Lu, L., “The Living Histories Ensemble: Performing Oral Histories on the Edge.” Berkshire Conference of Women Historians [Artist in Residence]. Toronto, ON, Canada. May 22-25, 2014.Sajnani, N., Goodill, S., Kaiser, D., Murphy, K., Landis, H., Scherlong, N., “Research in the Creative Arts Therapies: Purposes and Possibilities.” Expressive Therapies Summit [Conference]. New York, USA. 7-10, Nov. 2013Sajnani, N., “Action Methods in the Treatment of Trauma.” Healing the Generations: Child and Family Trauma Conference [Conference]. Groton, CT, USA. Oct. 2-5, 2013.Pendzik, S., Sajnani, N., Little, E., Mowers, D., “The Ethics of Aesthetics in Drama Therapy and Embodied Research: Multidisciplinary Perspectives.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. Montreal, Canada. 26-29 Sept. 2013.Sajnani, N., Parsa, P., Giacona, A., Carter, S., Hix, L., Radish, J., Rozenman, L., Benjamin, P., Ramadani, V., “Embodied Methodologies: An Introduction to Arts Based Research.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. Montreal, Canada. 26-29 Sept. 2013.Raucher, G., Sajnani, N. “Culture Lab: Assessing a Pedagogical Approach to the Basics of Cultural Competence.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. Montreal, Canada. 26-29 Sept. 2013.Sajnani, N. “Embodied Methodologies: Arts Based Research in Drama Therapy.” European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education [Conference]. Paris, France. 11-14, Sept. 2013.Sajnani, N., Johnson, D.R. “Responding to Conflict Through Drama and Theater.” Conflict as Catalyst: 4th Annual Arts in Healthcare [Conference]. Cambridge. 31st May- 1st June. 2013.Sajnani, N. “DvT Bebop Playback.” 8th annual Developmental Transformations [Conference]. New Haven. 19-21, April, 2013. Sajnani, N. “Facilitating Student Attachment through Trauma-informed Play.” European Congress of Dramatherapy and Playtherapy [Conference]. Athens. 23-25, Nov. 2012.Sajnani, N. “ Facilitating Across Difference.”, Girls Action Foundation: Annual Amplify Retreat [Conference], Quebec. 14-17 Nov. 2012Sajnani, N., Hodermarska, M., Arnason, C., Fan, S. “Arts Based Research and the Arts Therapies.” Expressive Therapies Summit [Conference]. New York. 8-11, Nov. 2012.Sajnani, N., Curtis, S., Davis, J., Mayor, C., Wittig, J. “Social Justice and the Creative Arts Therapies.” Expressive Therapies Summit [Conference]. New York. 8-11, Nov. 2012.
Fun Facts: I make a point of wandering through open markets in every city I visit. I adore Montreal and the Canadian maritime provinces. I often photograph bridges and piers and enjoy mossy walks, ziplining, and kayaking. A recent inspiring read was Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Italian: Le citta invisibili) and, like Jeanette Winterson, found that it would suffice "as pillow and plate" if I were lost on a deserted island.
Dr. Nisha Sajnani is a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) and Board Certified Trainer (BCT). She is a core faculty member of the Expressive Therapies Division, Coordinator of the Drama Therapy/Psychodrama program, and serves as a primary advisor for the Expressive Therapies Ph.D. program at Lesley.Prior to joining Lesley, Dr. Sajnani was the director of the Drama Therapy and Community Health program at the Post Traumatic Stress Center (New Haven) where she spearheaded the development of a trauma-informed school-based intervention program. She has taught in the Theater Studies department at Yale and in the Drama Therapy program at Concordia University. Dr. Sajnani also teaches in New York University's Drama Therapy program, in the Harvard Refugee Trauma Program, and facilitates an annual train-the-trainer program on popular education and gender-based violence through the Girls Action Foundation in Canada. Through her years of teaching, she cultivated a teaching approach based upon popular and performative practices and developed an interest in collaborative learning. The work of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal guide her teaching and advising, resulting in a style that is student-centered, flexible, and rigorous.Dr. Sajnani's research interests include the use of improvisation and performance in qualitative research, drama therapy and applied theater with displaced and exploited persons, the politics of therapy, education, and performance, audience reception, and the relationship between feminist psychology and embodied practices in the treatment of internalized and systemic trauma and oppression. Dr. Sajnani is past president of the North American Drama Therapy Association (www.nadta.org) and founder of the Theater Beyond Borders initiative at Lesley University. She is the editor of the Drama Therapy Review, the journal of the North American Drama Therapy Association.
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