Emotional Support Animals
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal which is prescribed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional to an individual with a disability. The ESA’s purpose is to alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effects of an individual’s disability. Ideally, the person with the disability should have an established relationship with a mental health provider prior to being prescribed an ESA, and the person should be receiving some sort of ongoing treatment (e.g., therapy or medication) in addition to the ESA.
ESA’s are typically dogs or cats, though any animal could be considered an ESA. ESA’s are expected to be trained and well-behaved like any ordinary house pet, but they don’t need to be specially trained like other service dogs. Per the Fair Housing Act, ESAs are only permitted within the owner’s dwelling; however, airlines may permit certain types or sizes of ESAs to travel on an airplane, and only to certain locations. Since an ESA does not carry out tasks associated with daily living, it is not required to accompany a person with a disability at all times.
What rights are given for Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional Support Animals do not have specialized training and do not carry out tasks associated with daily living. Therefore, they are not required nor permitted to accompany a person with a disability at all times. Under the Fair Housing Act, ESAs can be requested as a reasonable accommodation and permitted within the owner’s dwelling. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines may permit certain ESAs (which meet the airline's requirements for age, type or size) to travel on an airplane, and only to certain locations.
What is the process to getting an ESA letter from Dr. Hall?
I offer assessments to new clients to determine:
whether someone meets the legal definition of having or being regarded as having a “disability,”
to identify whether related criteria are met to determine whether the person qualifies for emotional support animal accommodations according to the law
These assessment services are available only to individuals who are an established client at another mental health practice with recent documented clinical records released to Dr. Hall from their primary clinician.
The evaluations often include a comprehensive diagnostic interview of the client, interview of collateral sources (e.g., primary mental health provider, etc), record review, test administration and scoring, a thorough report and a feedback session.
It is important to understand that you may not qualify for emotional support animal accommodations. Beyond assessing for ESA accommodations, the benefit of participating in this assessment is that you can further learn about the nature and severity of your mental health concerns, while getting more insight into treatment options and recommendations.
It is also important that you be fully informed about what this decision and determination means for you, and what your rights and responsibilities are, should you decide to utilize and/or disclose this information to a third-party for any reason.
For disability and/or emotional support animal accommodations, some organizations such as colleges/universities may have specific requirements related to evaluation, the length of treatment, etc. It is your responsibility to consult with the organization regarding their requirements and to fully understand those requirements.
Emotional Support Animal letters, and/or assignment of reasonable disability accommodations by an organization cannot be guaranteed by Dr. Hall and are subject to applicable laws, rules, and/or policies/procedures. Emotional Support Animal letters are typically considered valid for one year. Recommendations for continued treatment or other options will be provided following the assessment. Client should seek legal counsel or representation as needed.
Cost: $375 for assessment and feedback (including letter, if applicable)