"Wolves were man’s earliest teacher, and there is a great deal young adults can learn from wolves today."
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 23, 2013
Promises addiction treatment center in West Los Angeles recently united with Wolf Connection, a non-profit wolfdog rescue and youth empowerment program, to introduce wolf therapy to young adults struggling with addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders. Clients have a unique opportunity to work alongside and hike with wolfdogs, wolves that have been bred with various dog breeds as “pets” and rescued when their owners mistreated or abandoned them or they were confiscated by authorities.
“When the young adults from Promises come up here, the main priority is to get them out of their own story,” said Wolf Connection founder Teo Alfero. “We take them out for hikes and present them with projects they’ve never done before and animals they’ve never been in the presence of. They learn to approach things in a completely different way – not using behaviors they’ve been using until now but entirely new ones.”
Although thousands of wolfdogs need rescue, Wolf Connection carefully selects wolfdogs that have the potential to be trained and socialized and then builds therapeutic programs for youth around specific “wolf principles.” To date, the organization has offered diverse programs, including education programs at schools, corporate leadership programs, programs for foster children and juvenile delinquents, and programs for recovering addicts.
“What we do is bring people into the world of the wolf,” said Alfero. “What that means is you cease to be a human with all of your beliefs and past experiences and get to connect with an animal that takes you to a very primal level. At that level, it makes sense to trust yourself and others, it makes sense to give life another chance, to not take yourself too seriously, to consider what a mentor, coach or therapist has to say. Once that openness takes place, we start rebuilding from there.”
In studies, working with animals has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, build empathy and social skills, and boost self-esteem. Given the deep, long-standing bond between humans and wolves, wolf therapy is a uniquely powerful variation on other types of animal-assisted therapy.
“Wolves were man’s earliest teacher, and there is a great deal young adults can learn from wolves today,” said Kelly Seidlitz, the executive director at Promises West L.A. “Their interactions help repair many of the deficits caused by addiction, including empathy, communication, learning and self-esteem. By assisting with their care, clients also experience the rewards of giving back – a lifelong part of recovery.”
Wolf therapy has been an ideal complement to the clinical programming at Promises, and one that is welcomed by the young adults at Promises West L.A.
“Getting out into nature and working with wolfdogs allows our young adult clients to let down their defenses and be present in the moment,” said Seidlitz. “In that moment, they are more open to trusting others and listening to what they have to say and, just like the wolfdogs, making the most of the second chance they’ve been given.”
About Promises Treatment Centers
Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu and West Los Angeles are the premier addiction treatment centers in Southern California. Led by some of the nation’s leading addiction specialists, Promises has built an international reputation for innovative addiction treatment and exceptional service. Whether an individual requires detox, residential drug rehab, outpatient treatment, extended care or a sober living environment, Promises has been a drug rehabilitation center of choice for more than 25 years. For more information about Promises Treatment Centers, visit http://www.promises.com or call (877) 351-7506.
Promises is part of Elements Behavioral Health, a family of behavioral health care programs that includes The Ranch, The Recovery Place, the Sexual Recovery Institute, Spirit Lodge and Right Step. Elements offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders and other mental health disorders. We are committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the client but for the entire family system. For more information about Elements Behavioral Health, visit http://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com.