What is an emotional support animal?
An Emotional Support Animal, or ESA, is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefits to individuals with emotional and/or psychological disabilities. They have provided my clients with a great source of comfort, support, and a sense of security. My clients have shared with me great success with helping to alleviate symptoms of various mental health conditions. Please note that ESA animals are different from therapy and service dogs.
What is an ESA letter?
An ESA letter is a formal letter signed by a licensed mental health professional, such as me. This letter is a legal document that grants certain privileges and protections to the ESA and its owner. I have found the most popular reason people require a letter is for housing purposes. It guarantees that your ESA has the right to live with you in any housing, regardless of no-pet policies, breed, or weight restrictions, and free of charge.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, protects these rights by stating that no individual with a disability may be discriminated against or excluded from participation in any activity receiving federal financial assistance because of their disability.
Do you qualify for an emotional support animal?
To receive an ESA letter from me, you will first need to be assessed for a diagnosed mental or emotional disability that considerably impairs your daily life. It will need to be recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). I will then determine whether having an ESA would be beneficial as a part of your treatment plan.
Each mental health professional may have their own requirements for the process of obtaining a letter. I have listed a more detailed outline of what guidelines I follow below.
How to get a legitimate ESA letter?
To obtain a legitimate ESA letter, you should follow a few essential steps:
- Consult a Licensed Mental Health Professional: Schedule an appointment with a licensed therapist/psychiatrist. Here you will bring up how an ESA might help your emotional/mental well-being.
- Assessment and Diagnosis: The therapist will assess your symptoms and, if appropriate, diagnose you with a qualifying emotional or psychological disability.
- Request an ESA Letter: You will be granted a letter by the therapist if they believe that an ESA would benefit your mental health. Make sure the letter includes the professional’s credentials, contact information, and a specific recommendation for an emotional support animal within the content of the letter.
- Maintain Ongoing Treatment: Continue to check- in with your therapist. ESA letters typically require periodic renewals and, in most cases, will need to be renewed yearly.
I do require that we meet consistently for some time to ensure that you are receiving the best care for your needs. I do not charge an additional cost for the letter. You will only need to pay for your hourly appointments. You can expect the letter to be completed typically within 72 hours. I do require that we meet consistently for some time to ensure that you are receiving the best care for your needs.
If you are looking to acquire an ESA letter from me, please email me at email@example.com.