Arts Therapy Prof on Display

Posted by Paula Paine on August 4, 2014 in "Your OU" Dr. Barbara Bagan is the Professor in Charge of the Master of Arts in Counseling - Expressive Arts Therapy program on the Ottawa University-Phoenix campus. An acclaimed artist in her own right, Dr. Bagan is always active on the Phoenix art scene. As such, she was a featured "emerging Arizona visual artist" in Practical Art's 3rd annual juried exhibition in July. Titled "Heat," the exhibit showcased artists who were selected by a panel of jurors for their works that reflect "the burden that bonds us - the oppressive heat." Bagan's  "Global Warming," a watercolor on yupo paper (right), was exhibited. Another of her works (below) recently took second place at the Arizona Art Alliance.

Highly recognized in her field, Bagan is also sought after as an expert source regarding expressive arts therapy. On July 1, 2014, she was quoted in an article on the benefit of arts therapy for older adults in the St. Augustine (FL) Record, saying, "Exploring creative outlets offers a wide range of benefits including increased self esteem and relaxation, enhanced playfulness and humor, a greater sense of self control and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression." (Read the article in full)

Bagan has been with Ottawa University for 11 years. She started out teaching psychology as an adjunct faculty member in 1989. In 1996, with the support and encouragement of Dr. Ron Frost, she developed the Art Therapy concentration as part of OU’s Master of Arts in Professional Counseling (MAPC) degree. It was later converted to Expressive Arts Therapy to broaden the scope and make it more adaptive to the educational components of the International Expressive Art Therapy Association (IEATA). Because OU’s MAPC-Expressive Arts Therapy degree is an IEATA approved program, it has become more widely marketable for the University's graduates.
Expressive Arts Therapies included in the program include visual arts (2D and3D), music, dance, play, sandplay, drama and pscychodrama, and writing/poetry. “The first course in the E.A.T concentration is an introduction/overview of all of these modalities,” says Bagan. “Each class consists of various experiential activities related to the specific modality that encourage creative and critical thinking and engage all the students. They enter course with no clue about what they are getting into, but they come up with innovative and creative exercises that I never dreamed of.
“One of the goals of the program is to help students see the connection between counseling and creativity,” says Bagan. “We need the theories of course, but we also need to know how to reach our clients in ways that are meaningful to them rather than just talking about things. They must have the tools to move beyond on their own. So we teach our students how to assist clients in being proactive participants, not merely passive observers in their counseling process. That is how they learn to take responsibility and be accountable for their own growth and development.”  
Bagan currently serves on IEATA’s Standards and Requirements Committee, and she is a Registered Expressive Arts Consultant and Educator (REACE).  She also serves on the Board for the Scottsdale Artist League and is a juried member of the AZ Art Alliance. 
“It is important for me ‘to practice what I teach,’” says Bagan. “I believe I must engage in personal expressive art activities if I am going to encourage others to do so.  I must grow and evolve through my own artistic practice by learning new techniques and exploring creative therapeutic interventions.”
To view more of Dr. Bagan’s “evolving artistic practice,” visit her website at