From predator to protector: healing power of wolves

WGEM News at Five
Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:29 PM CST
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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (WGEM) --- Group therapy, 12-step programs, one-on-one counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy … the list goes on and on when it comes to treating addiction. But could animals be the answer? There’s no doubt, dogs and humans connect. But can people and wolves also experience a healing bond? And could they help people beat their addictions?

Wolves … we think of them as ferocious predators, but could they also be gentle healers?

“I felt very calm and relaxed and stress free. And my mind was clear when I was around Miquan.” Recovering Alcoholic, Morgan Aitken says.

Aitkan is 112 days sober today. Wolf therapy helped to transform her life.

“She came here and said, ‘I don’t wanna live like this anymore. I’m suffering, I’m dying. I’m drinking every day. It’s killing me.’ and then she went to the wolves and the wolves don’t see any of that.” Explains Clinical Director of New Method Wellness, DeAnna Crosby, MA, LMFT, LAADC.

New Method Wellness therapist Crosby says wolves instinctively know which patient needs their help the most.

“They’ve gone through trauma. They’ve lived in the wild. They see, they walk up to you and they just see you and you don’t have to pretend anything anymore.” Stated Crosby.

One common bond? The power of the pack.

Crosby explains, “Addiction is about a lack of connection. That’s why addicts connect to each other. And, that’s why they run in a pack. The best thing you can do to treat an addict is help them with connection.”

Ryan Lamb, Owner of Living Life in Recovery says, “Having the courage to be vulnerable and to open ourselves up to this new experience so that we can authentically connect.”

The wolves help to teach addicts about boundaries and respect. Benefits include reduced depression and anxiety, increased self-control, improved interpersonal skills and elevated self-esteem. They helped Morgan find the strength to stop drinking.

“The wolf walks up and licks her face and everything changes. And it’s like one connection she has that loves her unconditionally.” Says Crosby.

Morgan’s now back to work and is planning to face another fear and go back to college.

“Having her around has helped us be more relaxed and know that we’re gonna be okay and that we’re gonna get through all this.” Says Morgan.

The wolves are trained and certified as therapy dogs. They live in a wolf sanctuary that rescues hurt wolves and discarded wolf-dogs who were abandoned by their owners.

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