NORWALK, Conn. – Shannon Marzella of Redding believes writing can be a powerful tool for healing and positive change. She recently opened up the Center for Expressive Writing in Norwalk to provide children, teens and adults a safe space to work through their thoughts and feelings through writing, meditation and reflection.
Marzella is a former teacher who has worked with neurodiverse students for the past five years. She said she loved teaching kids to express themselves through writing, but felt she wasn’t seeing the results she would have liked in the classroom.
“I started to feel like I was part of the problem. I felt like I was perpetuating the idea of writing a certain way that was taking the joy and love out of it,” she said. She wanted to create a safe, non-judgmental space where kids could write and express themselves without worrying about grammar, punctuation and grades.
“My goal is to see writing returned to an art form and healing modality, versus something that has to be regulated.”
At the Center for Expressive Writing, Marzella has created that environment for expression and healing. She specializes in children and teens with ADHS, anxiety, depression and Aspberger’s, as well as kids who might be going through a difficult time at home or are having trouble effectively communicating. She also offers writing groups for women going through trauma or transition, and runs programs in schools to help girls develop emotional literacy through expressive writing.
Marzella will often give her client poems to read that are relevant to their situation, and have them write reflections on how the poem made them feel or themes found in the poem. She said that getting them writing helps them open up and begin seeing ways they can make positive change in their lives.
“Once they start to get their thoughts out on paper, a whole new perspective begins to take place,” she said.
Marzella is not a therapist, but sees her services as a complement to therapy. Every session is tailored to the students’ specific needs. If a teen is going through a tough time with a friend or her parents are getting divorced, she might use writing to explore how she can improve her relationships with her peers or parents. If a student with autism has trouble writing at all, their goal might be to produce one page of writing. Some students write themselves into short stories where they explore what choices they would make in certain situations, while others create poetry through rap.
The Center for Expressive Writing is located at 161 East Ave., Suite 101. Coaching sessions last about an hour, and Marzella offers a free initial consultation.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.