Saliha Bava, Ph.D. (1969–)
Saliha Bava has offered numerous revolutionary, creative, and constructionist contributions to the field of couple and family therapy. She is an innovator of actively engaging the art of exploring play, risk-taking, and improve in clinical work, scholarship, and everyday life. She is a leader in engaging community leaders and nonprofit agencies in organizing collaborative disaster response. Bava addresses identity and social justice through collaborative-dialogic practices and hyperlinked identity, developing a concept coined from her doctoral research.
Bava graduated with honors from the University of Delhi, India. She earned her M.S. in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India in 1992 and a post masters certificate in Research Methodology in 1997. She moved to the USA in 1995 to enroll in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she earned her Ph.D. in Human Development in 2001. She completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at Stanford University in 2009.
Bava completed a doctoral fellowship at the Houston Galveston Institute (HGI) 1998–2000 and served as HGI’s Associate Director 2001–2009. There, she provided leadership and vision as an administrator, family therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant, and researcher. She worked closely with families referred by Harris County Child Protective Services and with school-based crisis intervention programs. In 2001, she launched improvisation-based, multifamily workshops for divorcing families funded by the Texas Office of the Attorney General. She also served as adjunct faculty in the MSc in Psychology Program at Our Lady of the Lake University. She has been affiliated with the Taos Institute (TI) since 2000 developing their online course offering, serving as faculty in the masters in Relational Leading and doctoral advisor for the Ph.D. program in the Social Sciences and currently their Advisory Board Member.
In 2010, she joined the Marriage and Family Therapy Program faculty at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she continues as a tenured associate professor. At Mercy, she has received grants to focus on equitable practices, play, and design thinking in engaging first-generation college students. Bava directs the Play Lab NYC to explore the generative potential of relational play in everyday living. Bava maintains a private practice in New York City as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, supervisor, leadership coach, and consultant.
Contributions to the Profession
Saliha Bava is known for her focus on creativity in life, leadership, research, pedagogy, and therapy from a play and performative perspective. She identifies creativity as relationally responsive in actively making/co-creating our identities, our social processes, and the world around us (Bava 2016, 2017, 2019). Bava’s integration of creativity in therapeutic healing is emphasized in her role as a group facilitator for Moving Our Embodied Stories: Creative Resilience Workshops for Survivors of Sexual Assault, which is based in New York City. Her playful approach is evident in the book she co-authored with her husband and partner in life, Mark Greene, titled The Relational Book for Parenting (2018). The book focuses on parenting as an ongoing relational activity of experimentation and improvisation rather than a scripted or prescriptive role through use of comics, games, and articles to engage families in growing their relational intelligence.
Bava’s academic contributions emphasizes her questioning of the dominant academic discourses of research methodology, social justice, and identity through use of performative methodologies, socially just dialog, and hyperlinked identities. In this work, she bridges justice and identity and encourages a shift to consider how people live in a world that feels generative while there is subjugation happening. This challenge is reflected in her chapter, Hyperlinked Identity: A Generative Resource in a Divisive World which is published in McGoldrick and Hardy’s (2019) Re-visioning Family Therapy. Bava is pushing for conversation in her stance which acknowledges there is a practice of hegemony happening regarding knowledge and discourse about social justice, and challenges people in socially marginalized groups to refuse the burden of discussing social justice in ways defined by the dominant group by instead telling stories of agency and survival.
Bava has contributed to revolutionary change in the ways that communities collaboratively respond to trauma and disaster. She served as the Director of Mental Health for Katrina Relief at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX in 2005. In this role, she led the initiative to respond to people with mental health needs who were displaced following Hurricane Katrina. She developed collaborative mental health response among University of Texas, Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County (MHMRA), City of Houston Disaster Mental Health Crises Response Team, and volunteers. She then served on the Katrina Behavioral Health and Emotional Support (KBHES) Network developing and implementing long-term disaster response. Her leadership and efforts were recognized when she was awarded the Exceptional Leadership and Service for the City of Houston and to the Citizens of the City of New Orleans by City of Houston’s Disaster Mental Health Crisis Response Team in July, 2006. Bava was the Program Director for the Community Partnership for Resiliency at the Houston Galveston Institute May 2006–January 2007 where she worked to connect various communities in an effort to strengthen Houston’s resiliency in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This led to designing a community-engaged project From Settlement to Community: A Collaborative Mental Health Model for Immigrants and Refugees, a model of emotional wellness using social engagement, collaborative learning and innovative approaches to mental health (trauma treatment) design and delivery. Bava again provided leadership as the Co-Director of Houston’s Ike Behavioral Health Response Team in 2009, following Hurricane Ike. Bava’s extensive experience with collaborative response to disaster and trauma is reflected in her ongoing work, including funded grants, her service as an International trainer and authored publications. In 2010, she was invited to be a faculty and research consultant for the International Trauma Studies Program affiliated with Columbia University, where she has focused on theater and psychosocial programing and served in designing a community engagement program for New York City’s Mental Health Service Corp.
She has offered notable service to the profession in various ways. Bava is the Co-Founder & Co-Editor of the International Journal of Collaborative-Dialogic Practices. In 2009, she co-founded and serves on the board of International Collaborative-Dialogic Certificate Program. She served on the American Family Therapy Academy board (2012–2017). Bava is an AAMFT approved supervisor and Clinical Fellow.
- Bava, S. (2005). Performance methodology: Constructing discourses and discursive practices in family therapy research. In D. Sprenkle & F. Piercy (Eds.), Research methods in family therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Bava, S. (2016). Making of a spiritual/religious hyperlinked identity. In D. R. Bidwell (Ed.), Spirituality, social construction and relational processes. Chagrin Falls: Taos Institute Publications.Google Scholar
- Bava, S. (2017). Creativity in couple and family therapy. In J. L. Lebow, A. L. Chambers, & D. Breunlin (Eds.), Encyclopedia of couple and family therapy. New York: Springer. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_226-1.Google Scholar
- Bava, S. (2019). Hyperlinked Identity: A generative resource in a divisive world. In M. McGoldrick & K. Hardy (Eds.), Revisioning Family Therapy: Addressing Diversity in Clinical Practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Bava, S., & Greene, M. (2018). The relational book for parenting. New York: Think Play Partners.Google Scholar
- Bava, S., & Levin, S. (2012). Collaborative therapy: Performing reflective and dialogic relationships. In A. Lock & T. Strong (Eds.), Discursive perspectives in therapeutic practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bava, S., & Saul, J. (2012). Implementing collective approaches in mass trauma and loss in western contexts. In K. M. Gow & M. J. Celinski (Eds.), Mass trauma: Impact and recovery issues. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
- Bava, S., Chaveste, R., & Molina, P. (2018). Collaborative-dialogic practices: A socially just orientation. In C. Audet & D. Pare (Eds.), Social justice and counseling. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar