Division of Expressive Therapies
Professional Title: Assistant Professor of Drama Therapy; Coordinator for the Dramatherapy Program
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Drama Therapy, Psychodrama, Critical Race Theory, Conflict Studies, Trauma Studies, Performance Pedagogy, Feminism, Arts-Based Research
Area of Work and Concentration at Lesley: Drama Therapy/Psychodrama, Expressive Therapies PhD program
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
Education: M.A., Drama Therapy, Concordia University; Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Studies, 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. (Eds.) (forthcoming). Trauma-informed drama therapy: Transforming clinics, classrooms, and communities. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Sajnani, 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 FoundationSajnani, N. (in press). The body politic: The relevance of an intersectional framework for therapeutic performance research in drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy.ChaptersSajnani, 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. (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), 79-87
Sajnani, N. (2012). The implicated witness: Towards a relational aesthetic in dramatherapy. Dramatherapy: The Journal of the British Association of Dramatherapists, 34 (1), 6-21Sajnani, 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), 40-49
Sajnani, N. (2011). The bridge: Towards relational aesthetic inquiry in the Montreal life stories project, Canadian Theatre Review, 148 (1), 18-24
Sajnani, 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. ThomasSajnani,, 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, 33-37Journal Special IssueThe Creative Arts Therapies and Social Justice (Contributing Co-Editor, with Frances Kaplan), The Arts in Psychotherapy, 39 (3), (2012).Peer-Reviewed ArticlesSajnani, 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), 6-21Sajnani, 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), 18-24Sajnani, N. (2011). Response/ability: Imagining a critical race feminist paradigm for the creative arts therapies, The Arts in Psychotherapy, Available online 23 December 2011, ISSN 0197-4556, 10.1016/j.aip.2011.12.009.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)Academic ManuscriptsSajnani, N. (2010) Permeable boundaries: Toward a critical, collaborative performance pedagogy, Doctoral Thesis, Montreal: Concordia UniversityRecent PresentationsSajnani, 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., 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.Sajnani, N., Hodermarska, M., Arnason, C., Fan, S. “Arts Based Research and the Arts Therapies.” Expressive Therapies Summit [Conference]. New York. 8-11, Nov. 2012.Hodermarska, M., Haen, C., Sajnani, N., McLellan, L., Nasper, E., Dintino, C., “Body of Knowledge: How Does Trauma Perform? A Panel Discussion on the Aesthetics of Trauma.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. New Haven. 2-5 Nov. 2012.Sajnani, N., Trytan, N. “Drama Therapy: Beginnings.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. New Haven. 2-5 Nov. 2012.Kleinmann, A., McAdam, L., Trottier, D., Smith, A., Williams, B., Sajnani, N. “From the Playground to the Battlefield: Race as Performance.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. New Haven. 2-5 Nov. 2012.Jewers-Dailley, K., Sajnani, N., Johnson, D.R., Pitre, R., Mayor, C., Frydman, J., Rabinowitz, J. “ALIVE: On Location in New Haven Public Schools.” North American Drama Therapy Association [Conference]. New Haven. 2-5 Nov. 2012.Sajnani, N., Gareau, P., Lu, L., Linds, W., Rozenberg, M. “Encountering the Living Histories Ensemble: Playback Theater and Complex Trauma.” Playback North America [Conference]. Washington, D.C. 5-8, Oct. 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 città invisibili) and, like Jeannette 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 PhD program. 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 and education, and the relationship between feminist psychology and embodied practices in the treatment of trauma. Nisha Sajnani is the president of the North American Drama Therapy Association (www.nadta.org) and founder of the Theater Beyond Borders initiative at Lesley University.
Program Main Page
Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies
Advanced Professional Certificate in Expressive Therapies
Advanced Professional Certificate in the Arts in Health
Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Expressive Therapies
Expressive Therapies Faculty
Letter from Dean Koverola
Office of the Dean Staff
Institutes at GSASS
The Israel Extension
Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences Home
Tuition and Fees
Continuing Education and Professional Development
Get your application started today!