*This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.
Emotional support is something that many people seek, whether to alleviate symptoms of depression anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. While some people prefer medication or yoga, your doctor may suggest that you find a support animal to help you find peace of mind. When you decide that this is the best option to help you live well, there are a few things to remember
More than a Furry Companion
An emotional support animal is an animal, often prescribed by a doctor, as treatment to minimize symptoms as a part of an emotional or psychological condition. Various animals can serve this purpose but dogs are the most common ones. The important aspect of emotional support animals is that their mere presence and good nature helps to calm an individual and help them live better lives.
Understand the Reason Why
Emotional support animals, while they can be your beloved pets, are not just there for decoration. It is important that, in registering your furry friend as an ESA, you understand they play an important role in your life. Conditions such as severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and others can severely alter an individual’s life, and leaves you emotionally disabled. An emotional support animal can help make these conditions bearable.
Talk to Your Doctor
In order to be legally considered for an emotional support animal letter, you must be diagnosed by a doctor, whether they be a therapist or psychologist. Make sure that this is a mental health professional and not your family’s general practitioner, although some landlords do accept a letter from either doctor. Your condition should disrupt at least one major activity in your life, and the condition fits the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5. A prescribed emotional support animal will become a part of your treatment plan.
Know Your Rights
An emotional support animal letter should be dated and signed by a mental health professional and include information about the doctor’s credentials. This letter is typically enough to allow you to travel with your ESA, as stated in the Air Carrier Access Act, and the Fair Housing Act, which dictates that accommodations be made for your ESA as there would be for any disabled individuals. These two laws are the trickiest, so read their guidelines carefully.
When the emotional support animal is assigned to your child or you yourself are a student at a secondary school or university, IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) covers your right to bring your support animal along with you to classes and throughout. Bring attention to any noncompliance immediately. If you are still concerned about any aspect of the emotional support animal letter process, use resources such as https://therapypet.org/blog/how-to-get-a-doctor-to-prescribe-an-esa/ to inform yourself thoroughly.
Finding and registering an emotional support animal does not have to be difficult, but it should be taken with care. Ensure that your doctor notes you have a true need for this important pet, and take steps carefully in order to avoid any trouble later on. In the end, it matters most that you find relief from the negative aspects of your condition and find a healthier path in your life.