Areka Foster: Owner/Therapist
Areka Foster, LPCC, ATR-BC
OWNER / THERAPIST
Advisor, Lourdes University
Art Advisory Council
An advocate and ambassador for the Lourdes University Art Department, Areka works to strengthen the program and broaden its awareness in the Toledo and Sylvania art scene. One of the benefits for her is the ability to “connect with other art-minded people and organizations.”
When not working with Erin Palmer Szavuly, MFA, Chair of the Art Department, the Rockford, IL native keeps busy in private practice and as an Art Therapy Group Facilitator for the Victory Center, a non-profit organization that supports and provides hope to cancer patients, survivors and those closest to them. As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified Art Therapist, Areka loves sharing art with others and watching clients and participants learn and grow through the process. “The art becomes almost like another guide in the room; one they can take with them. Art therapy can also be beneficial for clients that are having a difficult time knowing where to start in their healing process.”
A valuable member of the community, Areka has served as a board member for several non-profit organizations including Toledo Hospital/Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, Maumee Valley Country Day School, Junior League of Toledo and the Toledo Repertoire Theater. She was a founding board member of Good Grief of Northwest Ohio and formed and operated a non-profit garden to provide donations of fresh produce to area food banks. A professional contributor for the former Medical College of Ohio’s “Coping with Cancer: A Guide for Women” CD-ROM, the trained advanced bereavement facilitator has definitely put her expertise to good work throughout the region.
Knowing how her own art helped her through difficult times, Areka debated majoring in graphic design or psychology in college but chose to pursue art therapy upon learning about the program. “I knew it was the right path; however, the lack of licensure motivated me to become a clinical counselor prior to becoming an art therapist. My belief in the healing qualities of art motivated me to go back to school and get a second master’s degree in art therapy.”
Throughout her schooling and career, the Ursuline College graduate had several mentors. “The common theme with each mentor was that they were strong, spiritual and compassionate women who showed me the value of connection through listening and observing art.”
Married 17 years, Areka enjoys spending time with her husband, three very active kids, her dogs and traveling whenever possible. It was her desire to spend more time with family that motivated her to open her own practice five years ago. “The business gives me the space and time to work with clients using both art therapy and counseling.” She credits her husband who is also self-employed for offering her advice on owning and operating a business. “Private practice has its risks but the rewards have been great,” she adds.
For Lourdes students considering art therapy as a profession, Areka advises “to make sure you are passionate about it. Art therapy is an amazing profession but it has its drawbacks. Know the ins and outs of art therapy and counseling, if you go that route; create your path and be able to sell yourself and your skills.”