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This Job Picked Me: Carley Foster’s Story

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Foundations Recovery Center Primary Therapist Carley Foster didn’t always realize working in substance use treatment was her calling. However, after working in the field since 2017, she knows it’s the right fit.

“Something I tell my clients a lot is that I don’t feel like I picked this job, I feel like it picked me,” she said. “I never thought I would work with substance use, but I fell in love with it.”

Though she has years of clinical behavioral health care experience under her belt, Foster also has several years of experience as a farm hand.

“I would probably be a farmer if I wasn’t a therapist,” she said.

Foster attended undergrad at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, and moved to Wisconsin for graduate school at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Prior to working with those with Substance Use Disorders, Foster counseled children in Wisconsin as an Individualized Youth Services Mentor. Many of her clients lived with behavioral disturbances such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She also worked for three years in a remedial program for college students with Specific Learning Disorders before staring an internship at one of the few inpatient Substance Use Disorder treatment facilities in Wisconsin. It was during that time she realized substance use treatment spoke to her.

After grad school, Foster was in the process of interviewing for another job when she approached her licensing supervisor to seek more options. Her supervisor, acquainted with the former Clinical Director of Foundations Recovery Center, introduced Foster. Although she was living in Northern Virginia at the time, Foster accepted the position and commuted to Baltimore each day before settling in Maryland last year.

Many of the skills she learned in her old positions, including but not limited to running groups sessions, translate to her current position as a Substance Use Disorder counselor.

“The skills are so applicable. Being an Individualized Youth Services Mentor is where I learned about non-violent crisis intervention. I still use those skills today,” she said. “Just because it was taught to me to work with kids doesn’t mean it doesn’t work with adults.”

Although Foster has never needed treatment for a Substance Use Disorder herself, she has seen the impact of addiction first-hand.

“I grew up in Western North Carolina in an underprivileged community. We were so secluded we did not have a police department, so drug use was pretty rampant,” she said. “It impacts families and the entire community. It makes such a wide ripple that people don’t realize we are all impacted in one way or another.”

Foster believes that she and her colleagues at Foundations Recovery Center offer a cohesive and thorough amount of care for clients. She bases this opinion from what her clients tell her.

“As somebody who hasn’t been through treatment, I rely on the clients to tell me what makes Foundations special” Foster said. “They all say we really care. If your clients don’t feel like you’re there 100%, they aren’t going to relate.”

2020 has posed new challenges for Foster. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is counseling through telehealth services for the first time in her career. She realizes that there is as strong a need as ever for mental health workers.

“I never thought I would be doing telehealth. I’m making it work, but I’m having to practice some acceptance,” Foster said. “It’s temporary, so I’m looking at it as something that I’ll just have to do for a while.”

In addition to being able to see her clients face-to-face again, Foster says once quarantine is over she’s, “most looking forward to going out for ice cream.”