Saliha Bava

  • Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy
Dr. Bava

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Saliha Bava, Ph.D. LMFT is an award-winning Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Mercy University, Dobbs Ferry, NY. She co-authored The Relational Book for Parenting and The Relational Workplace based on her scholarship on relational intelligence, which draws on her 30 years of experience in therapy, training/consultation, and research. She is the first Indian to receive the AFTA Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice Award (2023).

She is a co-founding member of the International Certificate in Collaborative-Dialogic Practices Network and the co-founding editor of The International Journal of Collaborative-Dialogic Practices. She was a board member of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA), an AAMFT-approved supervisor, and an advisory board member of Taos Institute. She is the first recipient of the John Shotter Award, in recognition and promotion of the humanizing aspect of everyday life.

Dr. Bava's scholarship focus on performative methodologies, dialogue as socially just and hyperlinked identities is part of academic activism where she questions the dominant discourses of research methodology, social justice, and identity. She also specializes in trauma, cross-cultural relationships, digital life, inclusive teaching/learning, and leadership. She is researching how people's relational play creates social spaces for inclusion. She consults with leaders, organizations, and teams based on her extensive experience in change facilitation and scholarship.

She is an organizational consultant on teams, leading, and culture. Additionally, she consults to couples and coaches therapists in her NYC-based private practice in business and clinical practices. She lives in NYC with her partner and bonus son.

  • Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders, Stanford Graduate School of Business-Center for Social Innovation
  • Ph.D. Human Development, Virginia Tech
  • M.S. Social Work with focus on Children and Families, Tata Institute of Social Sciences



Dr. Bava runs a Relational Play Lab for the Mercy College students to experience applied research in relational practices.

The mission of the lab is to explore and implement relational play as a generative creative resource for individuals, couples, and organizations. Relational play is the relationally creative process of trial and error by which we co-create the self, the other, and the world around us. Our inquiry is focused on exploring and expanding our understanding of these everyday already occurring experimental processes of relating within the context of coupling, leading, team building, teaching, and researching.

Learn more about Relational Play (4-min video).

I'm currently researching:

  • Inclusive pedagogies
  • Play/aliveness/joy & justice
  • Uncertainty & emergence in leading & living
  • Relational (discursive) discourses in leading, training & therapy
  • Socio-relational recursivity in therapy, workplaces & ADEI

I'm also interested in

  • Collaborative, dialogic practices
  • Discursive practices related to AI & communication
  • Trauma and wellbeing
  • Unsettling academic writing
  • Knowledge-making practices
  • Psyn 244: Social Psychology
  • Psyn 620: Systemic Approaches to Counseling Families & Individuals
  • Psyn 639: Pre-Practicum
  • Psyn 640: Practicum I
  • Psyn 641: Practicum II
  • Psyn 643: Sex Therapy
  • Psyn 653: Family Systems Assessment
  • Psyn 654: Psychopathology
  • Psyn 657: Contemporary Family Therapy
  • Psyn 665: Professional Issues & Ethics
  • Psyn 695: Special Issues in Psychology: Disaster Response
  • Psyn 710: Capstone Seminar


  • Bava, S., et al. (2022, May). Inception of Emergence: Relationality, Improvisation and Play. International Journal of Education and the Arts, 23(5).
  • Bava, S. & McNamee, S. (2019). Imagining Relationally Crafted Justice: A Pluralist Stance. Contemporary Justice Review 22:3, 290-306 DOI:10.1080/10282580.2019.1644174
  • Bava, S., Coffey, E., Weingarten, K., & Becker, C. (2010). Lessons in Collaboration, Four Years Post-Katrina. Family Process, 49(4), 543-558.
  • Bava, S., Burchard, C., Ichihashi, K., Irani, A., & Zunker, C. (2002). Conversing and Constructing Spirituality in a Postmodern Training Context. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 13 (3/4).
  • Bava, S., Levin, S., & Tinaz, D. (2002). A Polyvocal Response to Trauma in a Postmodern Learning Community. Journal of Systematic Therapies, 21(2): 104-113.


  • Bava, S. & Greene, M. (2023). The Relational Workplace: How Relational Intelligence Grows Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Cultures of Connection. ThinkPlay Partners. (Video preview)
  • Bava, S. & Greene, M. (2018). The Relational Book for Parenting. NY: ThinkPlayPartners.


  •  Bava, S. (2023). Socio-Relationally Responsive Supervision for Inclusive Learning: A Discursive Anti-Dominance Perspective. In K. Hertlein (ed.). The Routledge International Handbook of Couple and Family Therapy. Routledge.

  • Bava, S. (2022). A Relationally Responsive World: The Politics of Collaborative Dialogic Practices. In H. Anderson & D. Gehart (eds.). Collaborative-Dialogic Practice: Transforming Relationships and Conversations across Contexts and Cultures (pp. 37-53). Routledge.
  • Bava, S. (2020). Play Creates Well-being: The Contingency and the Creativity of Human Interaction. In S. McNamee, M. Gergen, C. Camargo-Borges & E. Rasera (eds).  The Sage Handbook of Social Constructionist Practice. Sage
  • Bava, S. (2019). Responsive Supervision: Playing with Risk-Taking and Hyperlinked Identities. In L. L. Charlés  & T. Nelson (eds). Family Therapy Supervision In Extraordinary Settings: Illustrations of Systemic Approaches in Everyday Clinical Work. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Bava, S. & Greene, M. (2019). Un-gendering Couple’s Collaboration. In D. Whitney et al (Eds). Thriving Women Thriving World. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publications.
  • Bava, S. Chaveste, R., & Molina, P. (2018). Collaborative-Dialogic Practices: A Socially Just Orientation. In C. Audet and D. Pare (Eds.), Social Justice and Counseling. NY: Routledge.
  • 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. Available at:
  • Bava, S.  (2016).   Making of a Spiritual/Religious Hyperlinked Identity. In Duane R. Bidwell (ed.), Spirituality, Social Construction and Relational Processes.  Taos Institute Publications, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  978-1-938552-49-6 
  • Co-author  (2015).   Exploring how Context Matters in Addressing the Impact of Armed Conflict In B. Hamber & E. Gallagher (Eds.), Psychosocial Perspectives on Peacebuilding.  Springer, NY.
  • Saliha Bava  (2014).   Performative Practices, Performative Relationships—in and as Emergent Research. In Gail Simon and Alex Chard (eds.), Systemic Inquiry: Innovation in Reflexive Practice Research.  Everything is Connected Press, UK.
  • Co-author  2012   Implementing Collective Approaches in Mass Trauma and Loss in Western Contexts. In K. M. Gow, and M. J. Celinski. (eds.). Mass Trauma: Impact and Recovery Issues.  Nova Science Publishers, NY.
  • Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Award. American Family Therapy Academy, June 2023
  • The first John Shotter Award, in recognition and promotion of the humanizing aspect of everyday life. Presented by the International Certificate of Collaborative-Dialogic Practices Network, Brno, June 2019
  • Teaching Excellence Award (Full-time), 2016, Mercy College, New York, NY
  • Faculty Fellow, 2015-16, Mercy College, New York, NY
  • Outstanding Contribution to The Taos Institute Award by Taos Institute, May 2, 2015
  • Award for 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, July 17, 2006
  • Nominated for Dissertation Award, College Level, Virginia Tech, 2000
  • Awarded P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship, August, 1996-July,1997; August, 1997-July, 1998