Emotional support animals can help people in many ways. They provide ultimate love, comfort, and support, thus managing symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Recent research says looking into your dog’s eyes increases dopamine and oxytocin, the neurochemicals associated with bonding and positive feelings.
In the United States, the Federal ESA laws prevent discrimination on the basis of disability in different situations. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a landlord can’t deny housing to an ESA owner. Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), passengers can fly with their emotional support animals in-cabin without paying extra dollars.
To enjoy the ESA benefits, you must have an emotional support animal letter, which shows you are genuinely getting support from your pet for managing your mental health condition.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter?
An ESA Letter can be written by any licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, which should state that pet therapy is an important part of your treatment plan. To get an ESA letter, you must consult professionals who are authorized to prescribe emotional support animal letters in your area. Here is a list of people who can prescribe an ESA Letter:
- A Primary Care Physician
- A Licensed Therapist
- Any Licensed Mental Health Professional
- A Licensed General Physician
Can a Physician Write an ESA Letter?
Yes. A primary care physician can provide an emotional support letter provided he/she is licensed and authorized to do so. If your family doctor is taking care of your mental health conditions, he/she can write an ESA letter for you.
Thus, those who are comfortable talking to their family doctors, there’s no need to talk to an unfamiliar doctor to get emotional support animal letters.
Can a Therapist Write an ESA Letter?
To obtain an emotional support animal letter, you can also consult a licensed therapist who helps patients to develop better cognitive skills while managing symptoms of mental illnesses. Other health care professionals who are authorized to provide an ESA letter are licensed psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatrists, or professional counselors.
Remember, if you get an ESA letter from a non-licensed doctor, it won’t be accepted by housing facilities and airlines. So, before scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional, make sure he/she is licensed to write emotional support animal letters.
How to Ask a Doctor For an ESA Letter?
As discussed above, you need to get a licensed mental health professional signed ESA letter to live or fly with your support dog. Your doctor will carefully check your condition, and decide whether you require the animal-assisted therapy for managing your symptoms.
Here are some tips to talk to an ESA doctor-
Before you see a therapist, do in-depth research related to emotional support animals, how does the pet therapy work, and ESA laws. Spend extra time to read online articles and Youtube videos, and evaluate how can a support dog or cat help people with mental conditions. Also, try to learn what's the importance of your dog in your life is and how is it making your life better.
Collect Your Medical Reports
When you talk to the therapist for an ESA letter, they will evaluate your condition comprehensively. They may ask you to share medical history and reports for verification purposes. So, make sure you bring the necessary reports along with it.
Is Your Condition Listed in ESA Qualifying Conditions
To get an emotional support animal letter, you must be diagnosed by at least one of the ESA qualifying conditions. Some of these are—anxiety disorders, depression, motor skill disorder, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Check if your condition is included in the list.
Have Open Discussion
During your consultation with the therapist, be honest and have an open discussion related to your condition. Tell how your four-legged friend has helped you in managing your symptoms, and state all the reasons why you need the animal-assisted therapy.
Elements That an ESA Letter Should Contain
A legitimate emotional support animal letter should clearly state that you are suffering from a mental illness that can be managed with the help of pet therapy. It should be on the therapist’s letterhead, and should contain the following elements:
- Therapist’s name and signature
- Date of issuance
- Therapist’s license number, date of the license, and state where it’s issued
- Your name and pet details (optional)
How to Get an ESA Letter Online
Here’s the complete process to get an ESA letter online:
- Sign up an account online
- Chat with the therapist using a HIPAA-compliant platform
- Receive your ESA letter in PDF format instantly
Getting an emotional support animal letter online is a great option for those who have a busy schedule or have anxiety or shyness issues when talking to a therapist in the clinic.
Animals are real medicines. They provide ultimate love and support to help patients with different mental illnesses promote wellness. An ESA letter allows you to fly and live with your support animal without paying extra pet travel fees or deposits. To get a legitimate emotional support animal letter, you should consult a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist). Be honest and calm when talking to the therapist, and state all the reasons why pet therapy is important for you.
What’s the name of your support animal? What role does your pet play in your life? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.