Emotional Support Animal Letter

After seeing a therapist, your pet can potentially qualify as an ESA if it is facilitating your emotional needs and comforting your disabilities or symptoms.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) can be incredibly healing to many people struggling with mental illness and physical health problems. They are helpful in providing loving companionship, mood-stabilizing support, protection from self-harm, and as well as alert for help during times of emergency.  Although many people seek to make their pets into Emotional Support Animals in order to carry them along during long-distance traveling, it is important to first understand the ESA eligibility of your pet:

Before applying for an ESA certification for your pet, you as their owner must be suffering from mental illness or disabilities that are specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V). The assessment or diagnosis of your mental health condition must be done by a licensed mental health professional including the Registered Clinical Counsellor, Registered Psychologist, Registered Social Worker, or the Psychiatrist.

A few examples of the mental health conditions are: Autism, Dementia, Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Bi-Polar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Severe Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder that is associated with significant risk of Self-Harm.

ESAs are indeed beneficial travel-companions that help reduce symptoms of psychological or emotional disability of the owners, however, it is important to work with a therapist to develop coping skills to treat the underlying mental health issues towards recovery and independence. After seeing a therapist, your pet can potentially qualify as an Emotional Support Animal if it is facilitating your emotional needs and comforting your disabilities or symptoms.

FYI: Airlines recently started allowing for ESAs to be carried into the cabins, but they require an advance notice from the person flying. Your ESA can sit on your lap, on the floor, or on the seat next to you if available or purchased. The ESA cannot disrupt service such as moving in the aisle or barking.  It’s best to contact the airline and embassy ahead of time to confirm their policies regarding specific accommodations of your ESA, especially if you are traveling internationally.

I offer to provide ESA letters, when necessary, only for existing clients of mine who are in a long-term therapeutic relationship with me to work on improving their mental health conditions. Clients who have had less than 8 sessions with me will not be qualified for such a letter due to insufficient information for assessment and the lack of therapeutic progress made. Emotional support animals are supposed to be part of a treatment program, rather than something to be seeking treatment for. Therefore, I decline writing ESA letter for anyone who has already booked an existing flight or planning on traveling in the recent future, and who are solely seeking counselling in an attempt to obtain the letter rather than working on making actual changes in themselves to improve their mental health.