Emotional Support Animal: A Unique Treatment Program

emotional support dogs

Animals can do wonders with their loving nature. ESA stands for Emotional Support Animal, a legal document under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mentally challenged persons often need a sweet companion to heal emotional damages, which is now part of the treatment. 

Americans with Disabilities Act 

When discussing ESA, the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 appears to be essential. The regulations, as stated, “Under the ADA, state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go.”

Why Does One Need an ESA Letter? 

Service animals are trained to perform particular tasks such as assisting a distressed person, helping a blind person navigate, offering company to elderly persons and others. However, the patient should qualify for an ESA letter signed by a licensed mental health care provider, psychiatrist, therapist, psychologist, etc. 

How to qualify for an ESA letter? 

Any emotional and mental problem makes you eligible for an ESA letter. You can qualify for an ESA letter if you have the following mental issues, 

  • Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Blindness
  • Traumatic Stress
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Social anxiety 
  • Learning disorder
  • Gender Identity Disorder

Types of ESA Letters 

According to Federal Laws, Emotional Support Animal letters are of two types,

  1. ESA Letter for Housing 

ESA Letter for Housing is a legal document under the Fair Housing Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you live in a rented apartment, you may find it problematic to keep a pet. But with this legal paper, a mentally challenged person can protect the disabled patient from the owner’s non-cooperation. With this letter, you are legally protected in no-pet areas.

  1. ESA Letter for Travel

The ESA letter can play a significant role when traveling with a pet on an airline. Airlines often prohibit passengers from traveling with pets, but ESA enables mentally misbalanced patients to carry pets for emotional needs. In other words, this document is a valid permission to fly with an animal in the flight. It is to mention that the animal is allowed inside the cabin with the particular passenger. 

Who can Provide you With an ESA Letter? 

Any licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or mental health care provider can give an ESA letter. Alternatively, a primary care physician or family doctor can also refer you to an ESA letter if licensed. However, the doctor should be knowledgeable about the patient’s health issues before giving an ESA letter. 

Can you get ESA Letter Online? 

It is to mention that you can also apply for an ESA letter online. However, before everything else, you need to ensure that the company you are registering with is authentic and comes under HIPAA. The doctor will conduct an online assessment via video app, and phone calls are not allowed as a communication way for an ESA letter. 

How Much does it Cost for an ESA Letter? 

The cost of ESA letter depends on your doctor, therapist, or the healthcare organization you are dealing with. Usually, the patient has to pay $150 – $200 to undergo a complete assessment for an ESA letter. 

Does your Pet Need the Training to be an ESA? 

Well, yes. Your pet would require intense training to become an emotional support animal. You can train your psychiatric service with the help of a professional that may cost you around $50,000. However, you can also try DIY techniques as dogs and cats instinctively understand if their owners are in distress. 

Steps to approach for an ESA letter 

  • Step 1

Consult a licensed doctor if you have mental issues and want an ESA. Don’t feel anxious and discuss your mental health with the medical health professional. The doctor needs to analyze your problems and make sure they meet the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 criteria. However, if you are already diagnosed with dyslexia or Autism and facing stressful conditions, you can ask for an ESA letter.

  • Step 2

After the LMHP or doctor confirms that you qualify for an ESA, you can get the letter instantly. After you get the letter, make sure it mentions the following information,

  • The letterhead
  • Signature of the licensed healthcare professional
  • Licensed details
  • Address
  • Your mental distress confirmation 
  • An official recommendation or prescription for an ESA 

Your ESA won’t be valid under the Americans with Disabilities Act without this information mentioned.

  • Step 3

After you receive the ESA, it’s time to make payments. The charges may vary for each state but usually, it comes anywhere from $100 to $200. However, if you have applied for a travel ESA, it will be valid for a year. It would help if you renewed the travel ESA after paying the amount as it expires. Housing ESAs don’t need to be renewed. 

Difference between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals 

  • Emotional Support Animals: Emotional support animals support and heal diseases like anxiety, depression, social phobias, and other mental health disabilities. Typically, dogs are a common choice for most patients. However, according to federal regulations, dogs and cats are also permitted to act as an ESA. These animals are required to provide emotional support, make sweet bonding, and give company to the distressed person. 
  • Service Animals: Service animals are highly trained to protect their owners. These animals assist their handlers as they receive extensive training to perform particular tasks. A service dog can help a blind man navigate his ways or support a visually impaired person in his daily routine. They are also trained to open doors, carry items, turn on switches, and more. 

Do you know someone who is mentally misbalanced? Does your family member require an ESA letter? Please consult your nearby healthcare organization or an LMHP for reference. A fast consultation can help you get the legal document sooner. 

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