Promises Treatment Programs: Wolf Therapy for Young Adults

Promises young adult clients have the unique opportunity to participate in wolf therapy, a highly impactful, hands-on experience with wolves and wolfdogs. In conjunction with Wolf Connection, an education and empowerment program based just north of Los Angeles, clients spend one-on-one time hiking and working with these smart and intuitive animals. The connection is profound.

Wolf Therapy

Wolf Therapy is part of the young adult program in West Los Angeles

Each wolf has a story to tell and a lesson to teach by drawing metaphors to the clients’ experiences and core beliefs. In addition to immersing themselves in nature, which is therapeutic in its own right, our clients learn to be of service, to more effectively manage their emotions and to reflect on who they want to be. It is the primal connection, the ancient bond shared between wolves and humans – along with the passion and expertise of the Wolf Connection team – that makes this experience truly life-changing.

Healing With Wolves

Wolf therapy builds on the deep connection between humans and wolves, an animal long regarded by Native Americans as the “great teacher” or “pathfinder.” The wolves and “wolfdogs” with which the young people at Promises connect are also working to regain a sense of well-being, and so the animals and their human counterparts are able to heal together. It’s an experience in which the role of therapist and patient is easily confused. And that’s where the magic lies.

An Unshakable Bond

Some of the wolves at Wolf Connection come from a background of mistreatment, neglect or abandonment, which is the same background that some of our clients have. So when they connect and begin listening to the animals’ stories, they begin identifying.

While many studies have shown that therapy with dogs helps lower anxiety, decrease blood pressure and shorten hospital stays, wolves can also be man’s best friend, scientists say. In fact, a study by behavioral scientists found that the ancestors of dogs, the wolves, are at least as attentive to humans as dogs are. This social skill did not emerge during domestication, as has been suggested previously, but was already present in wolves.

Benefits of Wolf Therapy

The bond between human and wolf allows young adults at Promises to engage and trust on a deep level. When clients are able to open up, they’re able to connect, which is when the healing can begin.

The young adults become pack members as they walk side by side in the high desert with the majestic creatures. Through the program, they learn to care for others and themselves, hike and play with the wolves, and apply wolf principles — like always being OK with who you are and working together to succeed. Team-building projects include learning tracking and survival skills and how to build shelters. In the presence of wolves, young adults experience firsthand the value of patience and trust.

Wolf therapy has been an ideal complement to the traditional programming at Promises, and a brand of substance abuse treatment that is embraced enthusiastically by the young adults at Promises West L.A.


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