Meet the Team: Bonnie
Updated: May 16
Get to know Bonnie, registered social worker at Therapy Alberta, in this interview blog.
Who are you?
This is a complicated question as I wear many hats. I am a mother, a partner, a counsellor, a coach, and a friend. However, at my core, I am a nurturer, a listener, and a goal setter. I am a nature lover, summit chaser, and ocean admirer. Powerful music brings tears to my eyes and the smell of rain brings me a sense of peace. We are all so many things, one box is not big enough for any of us. We can all evolve, bloom, and grow!
What led you to become a counsellor?
I have wanted to work and support people since I was a peer support team member in high school. I have always been curious to learn about others' experiences, perspectives, and opinions and how I can support them in seeing and reaching their goals. I have had a strong sense of social justice for most of my life and am always working to understand the various factors impacting those I work with. The short answer is that life can be tough, and we are all so unique in the way we move forward. Being able to share space with individuals as they explore their world and experiences is an honor.
What is your life philosophy?
Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have available at that moment. Be kind, be honest, and be true to yourself. There is no place for judgment as we grow and learn. We are all going to stumble. Be compassionate to yourself and remember, we all have bumps – some are just more difficult to navigate than others.
Do you ever get overwhelmed by the stuff people tell you?
Absolutely, I am human and am not immune to feeling big feelings. It is part of my practice to make sure I take care of myself, check my feelings, evaluate where I am at, and do the things I love when I am having a tough day. Being mindful is a key practice I have adopted. It allows me to be present with the individuals I am working with while also giving me the ability to be self-reflective.
How do you handle being a therapist?
I love what I do so it is easy to handle. People amaze me every day with their strength, courage, and resilience. Some days are overwhelming, and I try my best to use the very things that I suggest to those that I see in therapy.
What makes your job fulfilling?
It is very rewarding when people have aha moments and start to put the pieces of their own puzzle together. It is incredible to see what unfolds. I admire the resilience and determination it takes to move forward.
What would you tell someone who’s nervous to start therapy?
I would tell them that feeling nervous is normal. They are stepping into a space with someone they do not know and are being asked to be vulnerable. That is scary! Just know that you are in a safe place and in control; the discussion will move at your pace, and it gets easier as trust is built. You may not mesh with the first counsellor you meet and that is okay. Each therapist is as unique as those they work with, and some are a better fit than others.
What are some obstacles you’ve overcome?
I learned how to be a single parent when my boys were very young. Navigating the barriers and bumps that we faced was challenging, however, when I look back over the last 10 years, it is amazing to see where we’ve come from. I have navigated the health care and education systems as I advocated for my child with health, cognitive, and learning needs and provided the “extras” growing children need, often with great difficulty, but always with confidence, trust, and love.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love walking, hiking, going to spin class, watching my boys play football and swim, and and spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy nature and love going outside when it is not freezing! I like to zone out and put on TV shows that require little to no thinking. Sometimes it is nice to have that down time and do nothing at all.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
That which is meant for you will stay, and that which is not, will go. Trust yourself, trust your instincts, and allow things to unfold as they should.
Do you have kids?
I have four sons and soon, a step-daughter and step-son.
What’s your favorite show & movie?
Blue Bloods (TV show) & Crazy, Stupid Love (Movie)
What are you watching right now?
I rarely watch TV but always have it on for background noise.
What’s your favorite book?
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
What are you reading right now?
Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
What kind of Music do you listen to?
I absolutely love 90’s Grunge, specifically Pearl Jam. However, I enjoy all genres of music and often have music playing. I have my own in-car rock concerts and dance while I do the dishes.
Cats or dogs or other?
I always thought I was a dog person until I got my cat Marley…now I have 3 cats and love them all, as well as two dogs!
What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
What’s your favorite quote?
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.”
Indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors in the summer, indoors in the winter. I am a wimp when it comes to the cold but love hiking and exploring when weather permits. I love the ocean and the mountains!
What are your favorite foods?
Tacos, vanilla ice cream, and salted chocolate caramel.
What is your wish for your clients?
To find their inner strength and voice, recognizing they are capable, courageous, and resilient.
Bonnie Kelly is a social worker and clinical counsellor specializing in working with families and teens struggling with identity, gender, relationships, and school. She is passionate about helping people better understand and express themselves, find their strengths, connect, and thrive. Bonnie provides affirming therapy in Calgary and across Alberta, especially for neurodiverse, gender diverse, and LGTBQIA+ folks.