This year our Poster Session will be broken up into three different Zoom Rooms, each containing 4 presentations. Below you will find each presentation listed with its abstract, learning objectives and presenter information.

Please use the menu below to navigate the presentations below.


Metabolizing Minutes: COVID-Metabolizing Dramatherapy: Just Six Words

MA Drama Therapy students make sense of their experiences of loss, trauma and their emerging role as mental health clinicians during a global pandemic. Results from a pilot research project will be shared, showing how image theatre, symbol and metaphor were used to metabolize the chronic stress of COVID-19.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to identify key themes that emerged from this drama-therapy pilot project, that include:Health inequity, loss, grief, relationship tensions, chronic stress, continuously activated nervous systems, trauma.The synthesized results from the research project may be of support to drama therapy students and professionals in identifying these same realities in their own lives and the lives of clients, and also in identifying differences of experience based on how these pandemics impact us all so differently due to race, age, gender, relationship orientation and intimate relationship situation, geographic location, livelihood structure, health status, and pre-existing relationships with mental health and trauma.

  2. Participants will be able to identify drama therapy methods used to process COVID-19 and intersecting ongoing pandemics of racism and colonization. Using key drama therapy core change processes of dramatic projection, embodiment, role playing and personification, playing, drama-life connection and transformation, attendees will learn the creative potential of limits. The poster presentation will share how simple processes can synthesizing complex experiences into units of 6 (words, images, embodiments, and stories). This process is transferable and can be used to help students and clients process a variety of clinically relevant material.

  3. To recognize that while we all lived and living in a global pandemic, our experiences were drastically different due to our social locaters, livelihoods, access to resources (both health-wise, supportive relationships and $) geographic locations and vastly differently formed nervous systems. To illustrate this concept by sharing how vastly different drama therapy students in the same class who lived in different countries, Canada, Ghana, India, Kenya, Pakistan and the United States experienced the pandemic. Moreover, to demonstrate how even within the same city, the pandemic was lived so differently due to intersecting realities of racism, ableism, ageism and additional forms of cultural oppression but also access to resources (internal and external).


Jessica Bleuer, MA, M.Ed., Ph.D.(c), she/her pronouns, is a Registered Drama Therapist in private practice and a tenure-track lecturer and supervisor in the MA Drama Therapy Program at Concordia University in Montreal. A past two-term Diversity Chair for the North American Drama Therapy Association, Jessica's teaching and research focuses on the intersections between individual wellness and larger systemic change. Jessica's research uses arts-based methods and Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to address various equity issues that include historical trauma, marginalized community activism, barriers to employment for newcomers, xenophobia, and the negative impacts of racism on people's sense of belonging, safety and general well being. She is passionate about community-based drama therapy and is currently working with Simon Driver to develop, Metabolizing Minutes: a community based therapeutic theatre intervention that supports community members to respond creativity to community issues that affect mental health.


Simon Driver MA, RDT, LTA Lecturer in Drama Therapy Simon Driver’s research, Storytelling: Performance Paths towards Truth was selected as a winner of the Joint Faculty of Fine Arts and PERFORM Centre Call for Multidisciplinary Research/Research-Creation Proposals in Preventative Health. Simon specializes in working with neurodiversity, using drama therapy to support athletes and the use of storytelling to better understand experiences of migration.




Drama Therapy Student Presenters: Atlas Morgan, Ellora Kothare, Madeline Hall , Mia Zehil, Ming Tao, Sarah-Doreen Dadzie, Sophie Chappell


Astrodrama: Exploring the Use of Astrology in Drama Therapy for Filipinos in the United States

In times of crisis, people throughout history have coped by searching for meaning. Living through the pandemic, many have been confronted by existential questions. One of the ways people have attempted to answer these questions is by turning to astrology. This presentation illuminates findings on a unique action method- Astrodrama.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will able to learn about the method of Astrodrama and experiment with the implementation of this technique in their own practice.

  2. Participants will be exposed to work within BIPOC- Filipino immigrant communities and develop awareness of this marginalized population.

  3. Participants will be able to describe how astrology and drama therapy intertwine.


Monica Gamboa, MA Candidate, is a second+ year graduate student in the Drama Therapy program at NYU, research assistant of the Theatre and Health Lab and coordinator for the World Alliance of Drama Therapy. She works with various populations including underserved Filipino children and adolescents in urban poor communities, adolescents and adults with traumatic brain injury and developmental disabilities in her internship sites at AHRC NYC, Spark of Play, Collideoscope Repertory Theatre Company (CRTC) and Kings County Hospital. Her current work includes developing protocols centered on Filipino psychology, the Philippine diaspora, archetypal astrology, self-care and social justice.


A Journey Towards Recovery

Theatre improvisation and games used as tools to stimulate spontaneity, creativity and build life skills for people suffering with chronic mental health illness. This project used the Laura Wood and Dave Mower’s Co-Active Therapeutic Theatre model, Robert Landy’s Role Theory, Sociodrama and Sally Bailey’s Barrier-Free Theatre as a framework to build connection, find voice and create purpose for individuals who often feel powerless and misunderstood in the greater society.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will become familiar with the principals and concepts of the Co-Att model for recovery developed by Laura Wood and Dave Mowers. (Wood.; Mowers, 2019), Barrier Free Theatre for acceptance of all abilities in creating theatre (Bailey, 2010), Sociodrama and role/act hunger (Moreno, 1953), and theatre improvisations, (Spolin, 1983). Participants will learn how to create an individual process that can be applied to all levels and abilities of people with chronic mental illness,

  2.  Participants will become familiar with the therapeutic implication of using Drama interventions in relation to the recovery process for chronic mental illness diagnosis.

  3. Participants will able to utilize and apply this process into their therapy work.


Paula Heller, RDT, LPC, spent 27 years running a high school theatre program is St. Louis, MO. For the past 7 years, Paula’s focus changed to therapeutic theatre, working through Stages St. Louis to bring healing through theatre workshops in various schools in and around St. Louis. Paula also worked with various populations through local organizations such as Prison Performing Arts, Queen of Peace Addiction program, The Jewish Community Center Disability theatre and Youth Theatre. For the past three years alongside her private therapy practice in St. Louis, she has run the IC Players program which is part of the Independence Center Clubhouse. Like many people pandemic created isolation and a feeling of disconnection so the goal became understanding the specific struggles of people struggling with chronic mental illness and what that meant around themes of recovery. This lead to the project presented at this conference, A Journey Towards Recovery, as a means to connect the entire Independence Center Community.


The Influence of Culture & Identity in Drama Therapy

In this presentation, Nisha Sajnani and Ditty Dokter will share research on the influence of culture and identity in drama therapy from their upcoming book entitled Intercultural Dramatherapy: Imaginings at the Intersections of Otherness (Routledge 2022).

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to identify 2 ways in which culture and identity influence the experience of drama therapy.

  2. Participants will be able to summarize the value of examining the influence of culture and identity in drama therapy.

  3. Participants will be able to evaluate the influence of culture and identity on their own practice.


Nisha Sajnani PhD, RDT-BCT,Assoc Prof., is the director of the Program in Drama Therapy and the Theatre & Health Lab at New York University. She is the Editor of Drama Therapy Review, founding member of the World Alliance of Drama Therapy, and President of the Foundation for the Arts & Trauma.






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Practicing a More Honest Embodiment: Confronting body oppression and anti-fatness in the field of drama therapy

A professional practice discussion on the ways in which fatphobia, diet culture and weight/size stigma shows up in the drama therapy space, classroom and community. Presenters will introduce anti-oppressive theoretical frameworks to guide discussing size justice and body oppression with clients and colleagues.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will become familiar with Health at Every Size (HAES)® principals and body liberation theory and how it pertains to clinical Drama Therapy practice.

  2. Participants will learn and put into practice embodied and collaborative techniques to explore weight stigma, anti-fatness and size justice.

  3. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of how systemic and internalized oppression and implicit bias may influence the lens in which they view their own bodies, as well as the bodies of their clients.


Dani Bryant, MS, LMHC, RDT, is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Registered Drama Therapist. Dani's work is rooted in Fat Positive, Body Liberation, Health at Every Size (HAES)® and Body Trust® frameworks. Dani specializes in working with individuals & groups seeking body liberation and eating disorder recovery support.Prior to becoming a drama therapist, Dani was a playwright and performer, where she spent many years working with both performers and non-performers to create artistic work about body liberation and eating disorder recovery.



Fatmah AlQadfan, MA, RDT, is a Kuwaiti Registered Drama Therapist. She spent the last few years pioneering drama therapy in Kuwait. In addition to designing and facilitating workshops around size diversity, body respect, privilege, and oppression, Fatmah specializes in working with families and individuals recovering from eating disorders. Fatmah is currently pursuing a PhD in Counseling Psychology at Auburn University.




Sarah Hartung, MA, LPC, RDT, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Drama Therapist. She currently works in private practice with individuals and families seeking support around eating disorders, body image, and trauma. Prior to working in private practice, she worked for many years in residential treatment settings.





Connecting with Older Adults over Zoom: Creative Storytelling in Times of COVID

COVID lockdowns interrupted an established multigenerational creative storytelling program for older adults with dementia in a residential facility. The poster adapted the program to continue via mail, then Zoom, throughout the pandemic. She will share lessons learned for working with older adults and those with cognitive decline over Zoom.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe effective Zoom interventions for dementia clients.

  2. Describe accommodations and adjustments for working with dementia clients via Zoom.

  3. Describe future opportunities to use technology to connect with older adults and dementia clients.


Norah Swiney, MFA,  is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Oral Roberts University. She is an AT student.







Drama Therapy Family Mask Protocol Developed in a Forensic Setting

This drama therapy mask intervention protocol was developed in a forensic setting to help a patient uncover their family story through making masks of family members, spontaneous play with the masks, and role-play of a reparative story.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to learn about some of the history of using masks within the drama therapy community.

  2. Participants will learn about the importance of matching the family mask directive to the patient with cultural humility.

  3. Participants will learn about the practical implementation of a family mask protocol that can be adapted to work with their patient population.


Barbara Bornmann, MA, MA, RDT/BCT, LCAT, a licensed creative arts therapist, drama therapist, and researcher works in Correctional Health in New York, N.Y. A former director of Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Interfaith, and Therapeutic Rehabilitation at Kings Country, Barbara currently serves on the Drama Therapy Fund Board on the research committee.





Drama Therapy in Spain. An Emerging Chapter from the Design and Assessment of Programs 

Drama Therapy (D.T.) is not yet consolidated as a recognized discipline in Spain. The design and assessment of programs might be a promising model to pursuit the recognition of D.T. as a regulated discipline. Mixed quantitative and qualitative methods are proposed as an option to generate solid evidence-based results.

Learning Objectives

  1. Attendees will be able to reflect about the state of the field in their contexts and to acknowledge about other experiences in the field.

  2. Participants will become familiar the design and assessment of programs as a methodological design for researching and implementing interventions with Drama Therapy approaches.

  3. Participants will become familiar with quantitative and qualitative methodologies and the interaction of Drama Therapy with other disciplines.


Maria L. Mondolfi Miguel, is a psychologist with a Ph.D. in education, sports and health from the University of Vigo, Spain. Currently, she is a tutor at the National University of Distance Education (UNED), Spain. Her research focuses on the design and evaluation of drama therapy programs in educational, community and health contexts.






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Budding Buddy System: A Collaborative Community Mental Health Initiative in Rural South Africa

The Budding Buddy System (BBS) is a drama therapy-based curriculum to support the social-emotional wellbeing of children and youth in Touwsranten, South Africa. The BBS will be administered by the community-based organization, The Seven Passes Initiative, with the support and collaboration of students from The New School in NY, NY.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to summarize the model and objectives of a new Drama Therapy intervention in a community mental health setting, The Budding Buddy System.

  2. Participants will better understand the socio-historical context of South Africa, particularly as it relates to the mental health needs and strenghts of youth in the small rural township of Touwsranten.

  3. Participants will recieve a snapshot of what it looked like in this instance to co-develop a community mental health initiative during the covid-19 pandemic, via Zoom.


Hannah Maté, MA, is a graduate student at The New School for Social Research with hopes of pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and with a special interest and focus in attachment psychology, and is a member of the Center for Attachment Research. A graduate of the Master's in Counselling Psychology and Drama Therapy graduate program at The California Institute of Integral Studies, under the direction of Renée Emunah, Hannah is thrilled to be incorporating drama therapy into her current studies, including this current collaboration with The Seven Passes Initiative in South Africa. Hannah resides in New York City and originally hails from Vancouver, Canada.



NADTA Empirical Research Updating Committee: Locating the Voice of Drama Therapy in the Empirical Canon

Discoveries of NADTA Empirical Research Updating Committee. This poster showcases the free and accessible-to-all compilation of drama therapy empirical research- available on the NADTA website. Background of this project, its current updating committee's process, trends in the empirical research, and a feedback discussion with the audience will be explored.

Learning Objectives

  1. Showcasing the Work and Process of the NADTA Empirical Research Updating Committee. Attendees will learn about the NADTA empirical research database- accessible-to-all on the NADTA website. The utility of this database- how it can serve us in our education, research, or clinical practice will be discussed. Background of the development of this compilation of research- how the database’s categories were chosen will be showcased. The current process of the NADTA Empirical Research Updating Committee- how the articles are selected to be added to or excluded from the database will be outlined.

  2. Trends in Drama Therapy Empirical Research. Attendees will be able to look at data visuals showcasing the trends in drama therapy’s empirical research studies. Presenters will describe what these trends may point to based off the database's themes and categories. Attendees will be able to see what identities, demographics, aspects of drama therapy, and related approaches are represented or are under-represented in this field of research.

  3. Limitations and Further Opportunities Surrounding this Project. Presenters will encourage reflection around the current state of empirical research in the field of drama therapy through a feedback survey. All attendees will be given the opportunity to to understand and participate in the development of this side of our profession, encouraging students and professionals to engage with drama therapy through this lens. The NADTA Empirical Research Updating Committee will then be able to take this feedback data and allow it to inform and refine their selection process moving forward.


Julia Griffiths, DT (She/Her), has been a member of the NADTA research updating committee since 2020. She is a graduate of Concordia’s Drama Therapy program, and is currently working in Montreal, QC both in an elementary school and in private practice. Her work often plays with the gap between “what I am to myself” and “what I am to the Other” as a contradiction that can be held therapeutically as a practice of growth. Julia primarily uses spontaneous story & play enactment, projection, and composite-self mapping to explore this state of inquiry.





Chyela Rowe, RDT (She/Her), member of the NADTA research committee since 2018, has served as the project lead for the empirical references updating committee since 2019. Current work is centered on developing an Arts Therapies and Well-Being Program at CHI Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga, TN with over 20 years of experience working at the intersection of arts, health and social justice in community and clinical settings. Chyela and is pursuing a PhD in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University with a research focus on system drivers of stress and burnout in healthcare.




Jason S. Frydman PhD, RDT, NCSP, is an assistant professor of psychology at Lesley University and the current research chair for the NADTA. Jason’s research focuses on creative arts therapy practice in schools and trauma-informed, school based practices for students and educators. Jason holds a doctorate in school psychology and serves on the editorial boards of Drama Therapy Review (NADTA), School Psychology Review (NASP), and Translational Issues in Psychological Science (APA). Past service includes former NADTA Communications Chair and 2012 NADTA Conference Co-Chair.




Queering Drama Therapy: Merging Theory and Practice

Based on experience in clinical and educational settings, shared in an ongoing working group of queer drama therapists, we will explore best clinical practices for working with LGBTQIA2S+ with the hope of creating modalities for research, assessment, education, advocacy, and practice.

Learning Objectives

  1. Poster readers will be familiarized with recent research and publications for working with LGBTQIA2S+ communities, gain insight into systemic barriers for LGBTQIA2S+ clients and clinicians, and understand the relevance of drama therapy for supporting LGBTQIA2S+ populations from a cultural humility / social justice lens.

  2. Poster readers will advance their understanding of how drama therapy can be used with LGBTQIA2S+ individuals in a variety of treatment settings: the educational system, the justice system, and community outreach/organizing.

  3. Poster readers will have the opportunity to learn from drama therapists who are currently working with LGBTQIA2s+ and become more involved with the future development of queer drama therapy communities, individuals, and populations. They can take away a concrete arts-based approach or intervention and add to their clinical or non-clinical practice moving forward.


Kamran Afary, PhD-RDT, is assistant professor of intersectional identities and relationships at Cal State LA. Kamran received his PhD in performance studies and his drama therapy work includes working with students, adult ADHD and imprisoned persons. Kamran is a member of the Queer Drama Therapy Working Group and a co-author of a book on performances about Iranian diaspora identities (2020). He also co-wrote a chapter with Pam Dunne on Narradrama for the 3rd edition of Current Approaches in Drama Therapy (2020).



Dana Sayre MA, RDT, has a MA in Performance Studies and is a Registered Drama Therapist through the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA). They are a member of the Cultural Humility, Equity, and Diversity Committee of the NADTA and the Disability Justice Working Group. Dana is the creator and a member of the Queer Drama Therapy Working Group. Dana has experience working with LGBTQIA2S+, Disability/Neurodivergence, Domestic Violence, and Acute Mental Illness (including Substance Abuse dual diagnosis). Dana has a chapter pending publishing in Trauma-Informed Drama Therapy, 2nd ed.





My Voice is in My Sword: Stage Combat as a Tool in Drama Therapy

Stage combat creates the illusion of violence through choreography, safe techniques, and dramatic storytelling. It utilizes principles of dramatic reality, dramatic embodiment, and aesthetic distance. This study explores the social, emotional, physical, and psychological benefits of stage combat training and proposes a therapeutic stage combat model based on the findings.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will become familiar with stage combat as a theatre practice that emphasizes partnering, physical safety, and embodied storytelling

  2. Attendees will gain an understanding of how stage combat can be used as a vehicle for dramatic reality, role theory, aesthetic distance, and witnessing

  3. Participants will be able to describe how tenants of a trauma informed, therapeutic relationship can parallel student/teacher relationships in teaching environments


Kristen Pilgrim is a recent graduate of Lesley University's low residency drama therapy program. She is based in the DC/Maryland area and is currently working as a drama therapist with children and adolescents in an outpatient clinic. Additionally, she works with patients of all ages in Dominion Hospital's inpatient program. Kristen is a teaching artist with ArtStream Inc's inclusive theatre company as well as numerous educational theatre companies. She is an Advanced Actor Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors and has been performing, choreographing, and teaching stage combat for the last 13 years.



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