Oceanside Family Therapy & Assessments
Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Assessment
ESAs are prescribed by mental health professionals to provide comfort and support, but unlike service animals, ESAs are not required to have training in specific tasks.
This may include improving at least one characteristic of the disability. Emotional support animals, typically dogs, but sometimes cats or other animals, may be used by people with a range of physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disabilities.
At Oceanside Family Therapy and Assessments with work with active military, veterans, children and other clients, most of whom have prior documented mental health, emotional or adjustment issues.
In order to be prescribed an emotional support animal the person seeking such an animal must have a verifiable disability. To be afforded protection under United States federal law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a note from a medical professional/Licensed Mental Health Counselor stating that the person has that disability and that the emotional support animal provides a benefit for the individual with the disability. An animal does not need specific training to become an emotional support animal.
Unfortunately, this process has been abused. For example, people who do not suffer from anxiety or any mental health diagnosis obtaining letters from Internet providers, with no face to face assessment.
At Oceanside Family Therapy and Assessments, we are very aware of the psychological benefits of pets, including the many benefits of their use as therapy assisted animals.
Therefore, we offer legitimate mental health assessments, in order to determine if clients do in fact meet criteria for a mental health disability/diagnosis, such as anxiety, and would benefit from an ESA. Upon verification, through the face to face assessment process, if a client qualifies, we will provide a letter stating that fact.
Qualifying for an ESA in America
Americans who have an emotional or mental disability can qualify for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). To get the qualification, the individual involved must have an emotional or mental disability/diagnosis that is certified by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, or any other mental health expert. In some locations, landlords and property managers do accept confirmation filled out by a certified family doctor. However, the best approach is to locate an appropriate mental health expert who can write such a letter.
College residence halls and dormitories
On April 25, 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent notice to its regional offices that public universities are required to comply with the Fair Housing Act, which includes allowing emotional support animals into college dormitories and residence halls. As of 2015, colleges in the United States such as St. Mary's College of Maryland were trying to accommodate students with a documented need for emotional support animals.
The Air Carrier Access Act establishes a procedure for modifying pet policies on aircraft to permit a person with a disability to travel with a prescribed emotional support animal, so long as they have appropriate documentation and the animal is not a danger to others and does not interfere with others (through unwanted attention, barking, inappropriate toileting, etc.).
With the exceptions provided to emotional support animals, many people who do not have a mental disability have tried to bring their animals on a plane and pass them off as emotional support animals. Airlines, like Southwest and jet blue, however, typically have policies that passengers flying with emotional support animals must follow. While an airline is allowed to require a passenger traveling with an emotional support animal to provide written documentation that the animal is an emotional support animal, the same is not true for a service animal.
Update: Effective March 1st 2021 Southwest Airlines has joined other major US carriers in banning emotional support animals. A new Department of Transportation regulation went into effect on January 11th, 2021 that says airlines aren't required to treat emotional support animals as service animals. Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue and American Airlines also no longer allow emotional support animals. The DOT rule defines a service animal as a dog "trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability."
"Animals that previously traveled as emotional support animals may now travel as carry-on or cargo pets," American Airlines said.
Multiple Support Animals
While there do not seem to be any cases dealing with the issue of multiple emotional support animals, the basic requirements for this reasonable accommodation would still be the same. In other words, if a person were claiming the need for multiple emotional support animals, then he or she would need documentation supporting this need from his or her physician or medical professional. The practitioner would need to provide documentation that each support
Do I Qualify?
If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, fear of flying, phobias, compulsive behaviors, PTSD, or any of many other qualifying disorders and feel that you would benefit from an officially diagnosed Emotional Support Animal, contact us for a mental health assessment and clinical interview today.
Mental Health Assessment to determine qualification for an Emotional Support Animal - package (includes a review of results follow up appointment and documenting letter to the entity listed in the release form, if applicable). Total $350
Most landlords, employers or airlines etc. will prefer a current letter dated within 6 months to 1 year. Therefore, an updated letter may be necessary after that time, or anytime that a new entity requires a letter. ESA letters, are written to the requesting entity directly, not the client. $150