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Why I Don't Write ESA Letters

Clients often seek evaluations with the goal of getting a letter recommending an emotional support animal. I have chosen not to write these letters for several reasons. 

  • There is no strong scientific evidence that emotional support animals are an effective treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety. As a pet owner and animal lover, I firmly believe in the value of having and caring for a pet, but that responsibility can actually bring an increase in anxiety! If you love a creature, you’re likely to experience distress when it gets sick, and you may worry about it when you’re on vacation and someone else is caring for it. I know I do.
  • My therapeutic approach is to emphasize your strengths and work toward improved functioning. Encouraging and enabling you to become dependent on an animal for your emotional well-being is contrary to that approach.
  • I believe we should care for the animals we bring into our homes; they shouldn’t have to care for us. Some animals are trained as service animals, who perform specific functions for people with disabilities. In that case, the benefits to people are great enough to justify the burden on these highly trained animals. Most emotional support animals receive no training, and it’s impossible to know whether they are emotionally equipped to provide mental health support to their owners.
  • Finally, I am not qualified to evaluate the suitability of a specific animal for the ESA role. If I wrote an ESA letter on behalf of an animal that turned out to be aggressive or destructive, I could face legal consequences for practicing outside my scope of expertise and putting people, other animals, or property at risk.

If, after reading this, you still want to obtain an ESA letter, there are many companies who will connect you with mental health providers who do write them. Just Google “ESA Letters.”

Often there are other ways to enjoy the benefits of having a pet without an ESA letter. Landlords with a no pets policy are often willing to allow a pet with an additional security deposit.  Others may allow pets for a long time tennant who's proven to be trustworthy and responsible, even if the general  policy is to forbid pets.  

 

 

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