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Best Friends

Emotional Support Animal Therapy

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) can offer significant advantages to individuals coping with mental health-related disabilities. I collaborate with clients to determine the suitability of an ESA within the states where I am licensed to provide care. It's important to note that California has notably stringent criteria for ESAs, as per California state law.

Emotional Support Animal Therapy: About Me

What to Expect

In accordance with California law, it is essential to establish a professional relationship prior to the issuance of an emotional support animal (ESA) letter. The evaluation process, in conjunction with various therapeutic tools and resources, will be distributed across a minimum of four appointments spanning over 31 or more days. Following the evaluation, if you meet the necessary criteria for an ESA letter, one will be provided, but it is not guaranteed.

Throughout the assessment sessions, each lasting 45-50 minutes, we will assess diagnostic criteria and determine the need for an emotional support animal, along with providing supplementary resources and tools to support your mental health. Even in cases where an ESA letter is not issued, you will still depart with valuable tools and resources to address the mental health challenges that have prompted your consultation.

It's important to note that all fees are due on the day of the service, and we uphold a 24-hour cancellation policy.

Emotional Support Animal Therapy: About Therapy

Do you Think you Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal?

Who is eligible for an ESA?

To meet the criteria for obtaining an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), the evaluation should demonstrate the presence of an emotional disorder that could be positively impacted by the companionship of an animal.

Furthermore, there should be noticeable functional impairment in at least one significant area of daily life that would be ameliorated by the presence of an ESA.

It's important to acknowledge that not everyone will meet the qualifications for an ESA during the assessment process. If you do not meet the criteria, the results and conclusions will be clearly explained to you at the conclusion of the evaluation phase.

Image by Ralu Gal
Emotional Support Animal Therapy: About Therapy

Are There Really Benefits to Having an ESA?

According to Federal Regulations outlined in The Fair Housing Act, an Emotional Support Animal falls under the category of an Assistance Animal, which is explicitly defined as "an animal that performs tasks or provides assistance for the benefit of an individual with a disability, or offers emotional support that mitigates one or more documented effects of a person's disability. An assistance animal is distinct from a pet." Consequently, under the FHA, a disability is characterized as a physical or mental impairment that significantly restricts a person's major life activities.

In cases where a lease specifies a "no pets" policy or imposes restrictions on pets, landlords are obligated to engage in a process known as a "reasonable accommodation" to allow for animals that serve as assistance animals, including emotional support animals. It's important to note that because an emotional support animal is categorized as an assistance animal linked to a disability, the standard pet fees in housing situations do not apply. The exception to this is limited to instances involving security deposits or when an assistance animal causes damage.

Emotional Support Animal Therapy: About Therapy
Image by Krista Mangulsone

State Laws Regarding ESAs

California: CA has one of the most stringent ESA laws in the country. As a patient, you must have an established professional relationship with your mental health/medical provider for at least 30 days to be issued an ESA letter, pending you meet the criteria.

For Iowa and Florida residents, the same steps will be applied as above per CA State Law, which meets and exceeds the state requirements in IA and FL.


CA Assembly Bill No. 468, CHAPTER 168

US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Emotional Support Animal Therapy: About Therapy
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