WHAT IS AN ESA LETTER?
ESA stands for Emotional Support Animal.
Persons with emotional support animals must show that their animal provides emotional support in ways that reduces or alleviates symptoms. The symptoms can be connected to a diagnosis.
AN ESA Letter is written by a Licensed mental health professional such as a licensed professional counselor or psychologist who has training connected to writing the letter.
ESA Letters are required in certain settings. Such as on airlines or when seeking residents in apartment complex. What takes place is that a person may find their pet directly connected to their mood.
As an example, Steve has a pet cat. Steve shares that his cat helps reduce his heart rate when anxious, provide a healthy distraction when having bad thoughts, and alleviate his stress when feeling on edge.
WHAT CAN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS DO?
Emotional Supportive Animals can do certain things that another pet cannot. An ESA can under the protection of the fair housing act, live with their owner. In addition to living with their owner, ESA allows pets to fly on airplanes with their owner. In both instances the owner is not charged.
Having an ESA is truly a beautiful connection. Many individuals share how an emotional support animal reduces their symptoms of worry and racing thoughts. Being able to have your pet with you while at home after a stressful day at work can work to reduce negative symptoms.
It is equally important to remember that an emotional supportive animal differs from a service dog. A service dog has training connected to the service they are providing. Such as aiding the blind. This is not to say that an ESA does not have training.
WHEN SHOULD A PERSON SEEK AN ESA LETTER?
The first item to remember is that an ESA differs from a pet. The difference is made in the pet being an emotional support animal that can provide aid to the owner in areas connected to emotional and life challenges.
Such as a person with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, having an ESA that directly supports them by reducing stress caused by the depression or emotional disability.
If you feel that your pet is supportive then you may qualify for an ESA letter. There are certain steps that should be taken and areas that should be considered. First, one must acknowledge that seeking an ESA letter is not a guaranteed process. Seeking an ESA letter directly means that you are experiencing emotional and life challenges that highlight a certain diagnosis. Such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Major depressive Disorder.
The ESA letter should be a process versus a one stop shop. A process in which you are working with a licensed mental health professional that holds credibility, professionalism, and clinical competence. There are ample online options that allow a person to pay a certain amount of an ESA letter.
Personally, I am not well versed on them. As a Licensed counselor, I find that professionalism is important when seeing an ESA. Choosing to work with a Licensed mental health professional is a clear path to building a health relationship with a counselor and working towards the ESA letter.
When working with a Licensed mental health professional, the process can include the following:
- Building a relationship with the counselor.
- Engaging in counseling sessions that work to understand your relationship with your pet.
- Exploring your past medical history.
- Exploring a diagnosis and the symptoms connected to the diagnosis.
At the end, the counselor you choose to work with, should build a healthy relationship with you in order to conclude that the ESA Letter is appropriate.
ARE YOU READY TO WORK WITH A COUNSELOR?
Melissa is a counselor at Santos Counseling PLLC that focuses on helping individuals understand the process of ESA letters. If you are ready to get started give her a call or schedule an appointment by CLICKING HERE