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Flipping the Script on Aging and Therapy

illustration of 4 women

Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Director of the Program in Drama Therapy and Fellow of the NYU Aging Incubator, together with adjunct faculty Dr. Cecilia Dintino, and drama therapy student Mary Clohan, presented on therapeutic innovations at the intersections of gender, aging, and drama therapy for the NGO Committee on Mental Health during the 65th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.  

Dr. Dintino, psychologist and drama therapist, is the co-founder of Twisting the Plot: New Possibilities for women over 50. She spoke about the importance of generativity as we age and the lack of roadmaps for women as they approach mid-life and beyond. She works with women in the 50s and older to discover new roles, stories, and to put possibilities into action. 

Mary Clohan recently completed her MA thesis research on what she calls the Laugh Review, an integration of the benefits of life review with stand up comedy. Her collaborators at the Penn South Program for Seniors each wrote a 10-minute set and performed what one participant called, "stand up where we all sit down," over Zoom for an audience of friends and family. In her interviews with participants, she repeatedly heard about how refreshing it was to approach challenging life stories with humor and laughter and discover that they had new roles to play. They're taking their show on tour! 

Together, these drama therapists reinforced the importance of disrupting stereotypes associated with aging and illuminated the value of therapeutic approaches that move beyond looking back on life events towards looking forward in ways that are both generative and joyful. You can hear this presentation again on April 9th when it will be presented as part of the NYU Steinhardt Humanities Conference.

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