Emotional Support Animal Evaluation
Emotional support animals (ESAs) have become increasingly popular over the past decade. They are also referred to as “comfort animals” or “therapy animals.” ESAs can provide comfort and support to individuals with mental disabilities. The benefits of ESAs may be amplified for individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are unable to utilize the services of a traditional service animal.
Essentially, the purpose of getting an ESA is to allow an individual with a disability to have the same access to places of public accommodation as an able-bodied person. These animals provide support for individuals with disabilities by providing them with companionship, comfort, and emotional support. Someone who experiences panic attacks, for instance, may benefit from the calming presence of an ESA.
In order to provide equal access, accommodation is required to modify its policies, practices, or procedures to allow an ESA into a building or area that is normally not allowed for pets to go through. But how do you know your animal qualifies as an ESA?
Does Your ESA Require Training or Certification?
You may be curious if your ESA requires training or certification. In order to be considered an ESA, your animal must meet certain requirements, such as being able to positively aid the owner’s disabilities or conditions. However, an emotional support animal doesn’t actually need to be trained. In fact, it’s not required to be trained or certified at all.
You may also wonder if your ESA requires a special license or certification from a particular organization. While an ESA is not required to have a special license or certification, you do need to have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).
An ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) is meant to confirm that your condition actually qualifies as an emotional support animal. Your ESA letter must come from a licensed mental health professional who is practicing in the same state you live in.
How to Get an ESA Letter
To obtain an ESA letter, a licensed mental health professional must provide the letter to you. You can find an LMHP of your choosing either by visiting their office or by filling in an online form. You can easily find an LMHP by doing a Google search.
Once you have found an LMHP who will write you an ESA letter, you must participate in their screen test. They will take an evaluation of your condition and symptoms. Not every person will be eligible to own an ESA. Essentially, your condition would need to be severe enough to make you unable to function without the help of an ESA.
The letter must include specific information about your condition and what benefits your ESA provides. The letter must also include the name of the LMHP and the date it was written. You may need to send a copy of this letter to your landlord or property manager. This is especially important if you plan on living in a place that doesn’t normally allow pets.