WADSWORTH, Ohio (WJW) — Humans and animals are deeply connected. And that connection can reach far deeper than a loving interaction into a healing bond that transforms.

At Hope Meadows in Wadsworth, they have found one of the most effective treatments for trauma, anxiety, depression and PTSD walks on four legs and carries with it an intuition that offers great insight into who we are deep down. They call it “healing humanity with horses”.

It’s in this arena that women like “Star” have found a path back to themselves and the life they want to lead.

Star has suffered through immense trauma. She wound up caught up in the criminal justice system and cycling through a revolving door of human trafficking and addiction.

When she first came to Hope Meadows, she was shut down and in a very dark place but a horse named Duke helped change that.

Duke is part of Star’s therapy team which includes her mental health counselor and an equine expert. As Star leads Duke through certain exercises, his reactions reflect her energy and emotional state.

Horses are very intuitive. As prey animals, their natural instincts are tied to self-preservation. They are also very social and affectionate animals that communicate those emotions through actions.

If Star is feeling nervous and unsettled the horse will reflect that. The therapist then is able to gain insight even if the client isn’t able to express herself in words.

Hope Meadows was founded by long-time friends, Anne Kichurchak and Michelle Togliatti, each of whom dealt with trauma growing up. They both suffered from eating disorders.

Each found her own path to recovery, but as adults, they wanted to find a way to offer an alternative to traditional therapy that was natural and accessible.

For Star, it has been life-changing. Through Duke, she has learned about her boundaries, skills, strengths and fears.

She recently celebrated one year of sobriety and now lives a life full of purpose. She’s proud to have a full-time job and children she’s able to care for and support. And she owes it all to Hope Meadows and its unique approach to mental health.

If you would like to donate to the non-profit, click here.

Fox 8’s Stacey Frey shares the story with us in the video above.