Nearly one in four people in the United States experiences some kind of emotional or mental condition. Getting treatment for mental health conditions is not always easy. Sometimes, however, the solution may be found in your very own home. Emotional support animals can make a huge difference for so many people. But how do you qualify to get one? Keep reading to learn a few essential tips for getting an emotional support dog.
Obtain an Emotional Support Animal Letter
To qualify for an emotional support animal, you will need to obtain an ESA letter from a certified mental health professional. You can get one of the letters from your therapist, psychiatrist, licensed counselor, or any other mental health doctor. If you are interested in getting an ESA, talk to your doctor to first decide if it is the right choice for you. They will evaluate your needs and determine if you would benefit from having a support dog. Following their assessment, they will write a letter stating that you have an emotional or mental condition and testify that an ESA is vital to your overall wellbeing.
The letter should be written on the doctor's official letterhead. It should also include the date, their signature, their medical license number, and the date and place where their license was first issued. The letter remains valid for a year. Your landlord or airline carrier will usually request that the ESA letter is updated every year, so be sure to set yourself a reminder to renew it.
Know the Conditions for Which an ESA May Be Suggested
Mental health professionals only approve emotional support dogs if they believe they will be helpful. According to the DSM, there are a few different types of conditions where an emotional support animal can be beneficial as a treatment method. Some of these include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Social anxiety disorder
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
- Fear and phobias
Watch Out for Scams
Unfortunately, emotional support animal scams are all too common. Some websites promise to provide instant approval for an emotional support animal for a price. In the end, you wind up paying for documents that don't mean anything. The only way to get approved for an ESA is by obtaining a letter from your mental health professional. If you come across a website that asks you to fill out an application or questionnaire, it's likely a scam. There are also websites that claim to certify your pet. Emotional support registration is an excellent extra step to add to the process in order to further legitimize your emotional support pet. However, registration or certification does not mean anything without first getting approved by a doctor.
Don't Lie to Your Therapist to Get an ESA
This goes without saying, but still, there are many people who take advantage of the emotional support pet system. ESAs are not traditional pets. By lying to obtain one, you are only hurting the real support pet owners who rely on their pets to make it through everyday life. Talk to a mental health professional to determine if getting an ESA is the right choice for you. If they conclude that it's not, just adopt a traditional pet.
For more information about qualifying for an ESA or registering your pet, contact us at the National Service Animal Registry today.