We live in a world of mental disorders, psychological imbalances, and more. Stress is a constant in our lives. And every doctor and health care specialist will tell you that you have to reduce stress as much as possible. Stress is the silent killer. It causes many modern disorders and health conditions. In the past few years, a lot of people have found relief in animals as emotional support.
But it is not an easy thing to get. Do a quick Google search about emotional support animals and you will get a lot of results. Many of these results are “get it quick”, “cheap”, and similar results that promise getting a certified ESA letter for less than $50. Do not trust them.
The reality is getting an emotional support animal is not an easy task. It is a challenging and tricky subject. A lot of people benefit from ESAs. But some abuse it as a way to get their dog on planes. People try to register their dogs as ESAs nowadays to travel with them on planes and refuse paying fee for having a pet in the apartment.
Why People find it hard to ask for ESA?
Let’s be honest for a second. Mental illness is still a taboo subject for many people. Some even find it difficult to address the topic with certified health experts. We will have to wait many more years so we can break the stigma. And mental illness is the first thing you need to address when applying for an ESA.
Step by Step Guide how to ask for an emotional support letter
Step 1 – Schedule an appointment
The first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with a nearby doctor or clinic. Schedule with a clinic you trust and prefer. If there are no clinics and doctors nearby, research licensed medical health professionals.
Step 2 – Discuss symptoms
Once you are at the clinic, you have to have a heart-to-heart, in-depth discussion with your doctor about your mental health. That is if you haven’t discussed it yet. You must have an emotional or mental condition to register for an ESA. People usually need emotional support animals to help cope with anxiety and depression. But ESAs also help patients with PTSD and ADD.
If you do not have an official diagnosis, discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Talk honestly and freely about what is bothering you. Whether this is a regular check-up, update on your mental health, or a first time, be honest about how you feel. Some people have a hard time addressing and bringing up mental health. Approach the subject naturally and talk honestly.
Step 3 – Ask the doctor for recommendations
In many cases, a doctor will ask you about medical and therapeutic treatments. Do not go straight for an ESA. Your doctor will ask you whether other treatments may or may not help. Allow you doctor to treat you. Do not go there with the sole goal of getting an emotional support animal.
After an in-depth discussion, jump to your idea of trying something new.
Step 4 – Ask your doctor about his opinion on ESA
You can do this quite easily. Just say “I’ve read and heard a lot of good things about animals as a method of treatment. What is your opinion on it? Is it a viable option?” Don’t push for it. Doctors are vary of ESA letters because of the many malpractices.
Step 5 – Discuss the ESA option
Try to let your doctor speak his opinion. He will discuss with you how or whether emotional support animals can help. He can recommend one. If you already have animals, they will surely ask whether you feel better around them.
Remember, your doctor will also give you an opinion on why and why not ESA is a good idea.
Step 6 – Get recommendations from an LMHP
If your doctor agrees, you can talk with a licensed mental health professional for recommendations. The group includes therapists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, etc. They will analyze your mental health and then communicate with your doctor.
Step 7 – Ask a Doctor for an Emotional Support Animal Letter
This step will come naturally if you really need it. If you are pushy, your doctor will suspect you want to use the letter as an excuse to travel easier with your pet. Always talk clear, honestly, and frankly about why you think an emotional support animal can benefit your daily health.
The letter must state your mental health condition, it must verify it, and any treatment you receive at the moment. The letter also shows the doctor writing the letter. In many cases, the letter will state that “your mental condition impedes your ability to participate in at least one daily activity and an ESA will help you cope with the symptoms”.
Registering an animal as ESA helps you travel with him easily and live in your house without any extra fees.
Step 8 – Pay for the letter
The price of an emotional support animal letter can vary. In some areas, it is more expensive to get one. For example, larger cities with a larger cost of living average charge more for an ESA letter. In some areas, they even make it extremely strict for ESA regulations. That is why the letter might cost more.
Generally speaking, the prices vary between $100 and $200. They are good for one year.
Step 9 – Select a support animal or use your own
At this point, if you do not have your animal, it is time to select one. Find one that meets your needs and criteria. Always look for an animal, dog, or cat that will calm your nerves. Make sure your landlord allows it. No matter which animal you choose, make sure it is comfortable and loved in your environment.
Tips on How to ask a doctor for an emotional support animal letter
Doctors nowadays are aware of the growing demand for ESA letters. They try to respect their career. And they want to make sure only those in need get an ESA. That makes the process tricky, challenging, and sometimes longer. Here are some tips on how to make sure you get an ESA.
- Read more on emotional support animals and how they can help
- Think how an ESA would fit into your life, and explain that to the doctor
- Keep a record of your symptoms and show them to your doctor. You can use a mobile app for this, or a daily diary on paper
- If you have a pet, you can try and bring him with you on the scheduled appointment
- Talk and act calmly when you ask for an emotional support animal
- Do not push for a letter, you may come as overly-aggressive
- If you do not feel comfortable asking for an ESA letter, find an agency that will connect you with a licensed mental health professional
Why Get an ESA letter from a Doctor?
Only a licensed healthcare professional can write an ESA letter. Federal rules and guidelines from the US Department of Housing and Department of Transportation provide clear instructions.
The list of LHCP (licensed health care professionals) includes social workers, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, licensed counselors, and other licensed professionals.
Any letter not signed by a licensed professional will not help you. Landlords, animals, and HOAs do not recognize them as valid. This is why you should take care of where you get the letter from. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Always get the letter from certified ESA doctors. Here are some ways to recognize a valid and legitimate ESA letter.
- It contains the LHCP letterhead and signature and date of issuance
- It contains mental health professional’s license type, date of issuing license, license number, and state that issued the license
- Confirmation that the ESA is vital to your daily life
- Description how the animal helps with the condition
- Prescription or recommendation for an ESA
- It might include the name and details about your pet like breed, type, and name
How emotional support animals can help you?
In most cases, an ESA animal is a dog. That is because dogs are lovable, cuddly, and listen to their owners. Here are five ways they help you cope with the problem
- Act as a distraction from negative thoughts
- Establish a healthy routine of regular exercise
- Provide unconditional love and support in times of need
- Act as a calming presence that blocks stress hormones
- Help you gain the confidence to go outside
Some of the best dogs for an emotional support animal include Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Border Collie, Corgi, Yorkshire terrier, King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, and Chihuahua. A licensed health professional has to authorize all ESA animals. They do not have the same rights as service dogs and therapy dogs. But they allow a person to circumvent some no-pet policies.
You should also stay away from breeds like Pekingese, Shiba Inu, and other breeds that are quite independent.