Jillian Bagan, Jillian Bagan Art Therapy, Vancouver

WeBC March 6, 2024
Jillian Bagan

Jillian Bagan’s love for art, which began in high school as a coping mechanism during challenging times, enabled them to create a world that aligned with their authentic self. While pursuing a fine arts degree, Jillian discovered art therapy, prompting the pursuit of a master’s degree and postgraduate studies. Recognizing the importance of creating a space catering to the needs of the queer community, Jillian started their practice to offer affirming art therapy. This marked the beginning of Jillian Bagan Art Therapy.

A registered clinical counsellor, Jillian provides online art therapy and counselling sessions for queer youth and adults. The art component in their sessions serves as a tool for healing and exploration, allowing clients to express their feelings, share narratives, and navigate challenges through visual mediums. Jillian is committed to creating a safe space for healing within the queer community.

“It’s so important to me that there’s affirming queer therapy available to the queer community. So having my own business where that can be the focus is really important to me and why I became a private practice and business owner.”

Jillian discovered WeBC through their bank, Vancity, which encouraged them to apply for a loan when starting their business. Feeling welcomed by WeBC’s values and support, Jillian joined the One-to-One Mentoring Program to seek guidance, discuss business ideas, and learn about tools for effective business management.

Their mentor was in the coaching field and was able to provide a fresh perspective, creating a parallel to therapy. Jillian appreciated the external accountability, as it helped them implement strategies effectively and try new tools for time management. 

With a positive experience, Jillian is now considering joining WeBC’s Peer Group Mentorship Program and is keeping an eye on upcoming programs to further enhance their business skills. They are grateful for resources like WeBC that support new business owners and provide tools for success. 

Client Q&A

Q: What exactly is art therapy and how does it help your clients?

A: When I heard about art therapy, something just clicked. I thought how beautiful it would be to facilitate space for people to use art to heal and cope with difficulties they’re facing. 

In my sessions, art is used as a tool for exploration to help clients better understand what’s going on in their world. They have an arrangement of art materials to use in our sessions to better express what’s going on, especially when it’s challenging for them to put words to. 

I always encourage clients to make art for at least 10 minutes because it can lower cortisol, which is a stress hormone, in their body after focusing on the art. What they create allows them to better process what’s coming up and we look at the art together. Beautiful healing can happen through the art and it’s such a privilege to provide a safe space for their healing process.

Q: How did WeBC’s mentorship program support your business growth? 

A: Working with my mentor, it was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and offer another perspective, especially because I run my business on my own. There were things I wanted to try and it pushed me to take risks and do things I was scared of trying.

My mentor gave me tools and tips to better manage my time, new ways to approach problems, and showed me how to be more intentional with what I’m spending time on. I loved having someone to keep me accountable, it was so helpful for me. 

Q: If you were to give advice to someone starting their own business, what advice would you give?

A: I would say take every opportunity that you can when you’re starting, especially when it comes to the promotion of your business. It’s so important to get your work out there.

Also, remember to always send a thank you for the opportunities you get. One time I sent a thank you card to someone just for having an informal interview with me and that got me a job. It’s so important to say thank you and show much gratitude for the people who give you opportunities.

Q: What’s next for Jillian Bagan Art Therapy?

A: I’m talking with a lot of different queer and nonprofit organizations and trying to create partnerships to host group art therapy sessions. There are a few in the works which I’m excited about. 

I’ve presented at various conferences in the past year on “Queer Youth, Families, and Trauma,” and I’m hoping to apply for more opportunities to present. I put a lot of work into the presentation and it’s a really important topic to talk about.

In terms of the future, it would be great to be on the other side of the mentorship program and mentor someone who’s starting. I would love to give back once I have more experience.

Where to find Jillian Bagan Art Therapy




About WeBC

WeBC is a not-for-profit that has been supporting women business owners across the province for over 25 years. Working with our regional partners, we’ve provided thousands of entrepreneurs with business loans and expertise, training, resources, and peer network support to help businesses grow and thrive.