Kelly Garbe always knew she wanted to help people, ever since she was a little girl.
After participating in a high school workshop aimed at helping students become better listeners to their peers, a seed had been planted that propelled her into counselling and social work. She went on to pursue two degrees in sociology and social work.
After university, Garbe provided employment counselling for over 10 years before switching roles and working at Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in the cancer clinic's counselling unit for two years, helping support those dealing with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis.
“It was really meaningful to support people through those situations,” said Garbe. “We’re all built to cope with a certain amount of stress… but even strong people need support.”
Garbe opened her own practice three years ago, Life Therapy, focusing on a range of concerns including stress, life transitions, depression and anxiety, palliative concerns, grief and bereavement. She uses an integrative approach with her 20 years of extensive counselling training.
“I love working with people,” said Garbe. “I feel very privileged to have my education to help others… when we compare ourselves to women globally, it’s a big deal to have an education.”
Like many businesses during COVID-19, Garbe adapted to regulations and brought her services online that allowed her to reach clients outside of Bradford location, including York Region.
Over a decade ago, Garbe used to volunteer at A Hand Up (Clothing Room) in Bradford, helping sort clothing for those in need in the community. As Garbe became busier with her profession, she was unable to volunteer her time in person but continued to support financially.
Currently, Garbe is a sponsor of the Out of the Cold Café, a temporary daytime shelter for those needing a retreat from the cold winter months. Garbe’s six-month financial support helps the café’s day-to-day operations continue – a commitment she says she was invited to do in her heart.
“I can support financially. Not everyone will volunteer but we can support financially,” said Garbe. “Some kind of volunteer work is good for people – engaging people and providing a space for community to happen, for people to receive and give… that’s the kind of organization I can support.”
Garbe added that everyone has a spiritual influence and giving back to one’s community with time, money, energy, or words can help the individual while helping others.
“We have a capacity to help, we’re invited to give,” she said. “When you get a flavour of how good it can feel – to give back – you’re touching people’s lives and that’s important!”
Garbe added, “There’s a global exhaustion and fatigue related to the pandemic and losses from the pandemic, what can help you right now are the simple, small things, like getting fresh air, going for a walk… if people get outside and move, you will start feeling better today.”
“We all have a part to play,” urges Garbe. “Take your life and use it for good.”
Garbe is the owner of Life Therapy in Bradford, where she provides psychotherapy and counselling in a variety of fields