Healing Emotionally Abused Lives

The path to wholeness

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Workshop Draws Writers to Renovated Arts Center

DERBY -- On a gray, winter Saturday, every seat around the extra-long table at the newly renovated Valley Arts Council’s (VAC), Center for the Arts in Derby was filled. The group was there to hear speaker and valley resident, Ilene Wolf, debut her one-day workshop, "Write to Heal."

"The new workshop and the completion of the firehouse renovation came together simultaneously," Wolf said. "So I brought the program straight to the Valley Arts Council because I wanted to support both the arts and the Naugatuck Valley community."

Other than a September open house at the old firehouse on Caroline Street, the writing seminar was the Center's inaugural event. Wolf, who presented the program free of charge, opened with an explanation of why expressive arts therapy is often a great way to tackle life's speed bumps.

"In the 'Write to Heal' Workshop, I demonstrate a variety of tools and resources with which to explore, express and untangle the problems that seem to stump us," said Wolf. "And it's never about so-called writing ability. When emotions are accessed and expressed with authenticity, words on paper become tools of healing and growth."

Participants in Derby practiced writing techniques useful in emotional processing, including "virtual" letter-writing, recording and interpreting dreams, visual mapping, journaling and vision/power statements. Those who wished, shared her or his work with the group, not for critique but for validation.

Wolf, recognized for both her writing and photography, began in journalism at the now-defunct Hartford Times. Later, she contributed to dailies and weeklies in New York and Connecticut, as well as the Associated Press. Since 2007, she's authored a blog, "Wolf's Daily Howl."

In early '90s Wolf earned a Masters of Science degree which she employs now in her life coaching practice, Healing Wolf Tracks. She also runs support circles for the non-profit she launched in 2006, Healing Emotionally Abused Lives (HEAL). There are ten HEAL support circle locations, among them Derby, New Haven and Stratford. One of the circles is at a Department of Corrections facility; one is an on-line forum she calls the HEAL CyberCircle. "Those who were here today," said Wolf after the Derby workshop, "can take what they learned and grow their own repertoire of techniques that work best for them."

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