An emotional support animal (ESA) can bring much-needed comfort to individuals with mental health disorders. To qualify for an ESA a licensed medical health professional must attest in an ESA letter that their patient benefits from having an ESA. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) can indeed make this decision and write an ESA letter. And they can help in many more ways, as we’ll explain below.

Looking to connect with a licensed mental health professional near you? Find an LCSW near you by completing the nearby therapist locator here.

Emotional Support Animals Are More Than a Pet 

An emotional support animal (ESA) offers relief to individuals who display distressing feelings resulting from a diagnosed mental or emotional disorder. An ESA provides a soothing, comforting source to turn to at any time. Very often, ESAs are used to treat the symptoms of disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and autism, to name a few. 

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What Makes an Animal an Emotional Support Animal?

As much as we’d like to, we cannot designate our pet as an ESA on our own. Their loyalty and affection may definitely heal our hearts, but they can’t qualify as an ESA until a mental health professional designates them as such with a legitimate ESA letter

Boy cuddling with emotional support dog.
An emotional support animal provides comfort and support. They are not required to be specially trained.

What is an ESA Letter from an LCSW?

An emotional support animal letter (ESA letter) from an LCSW, provides proof that your designated animal is a necessity, meaning the animal is required for a legitimate illness. When seeking housing or making travel arrangements, an ESA letter enables you to quickly inform authorities or landlords that they must grant permission to accommodate your animal. 

The ESA letter also provides information regarding the licensed mental health professional who’s providing your care, such as their name, license number, and contact information. One of the licensed mental health professionals that can write an ESA letter is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). 

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Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), functions as part of the mental health counseling field of Social Work. An LCSW helps clients to manage concerns involving mental and emotional health. There are a wide variety of subjects an LCSW can specialize in. Many of these areas are mental health-related, like

  • substance abuse
  • school social work
  • medical social work
  • public health
  • children’s mental health
  • family therapy

An LCSW requires a high level of training, even after completing and graduating with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. An LCSW must fulfill all the requirements to gain their state licensure. To earn this license, a prospective LCSW student must complete a long period of post-graduate supervised work experience. After which they must complete an approved national test.

When inquiring about an ESA letter, make sure that you are connected with an LCSW licensed in the state of your residence.

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In their practice, an LCSW uses a strength-based type of mental health therapy. This means that they work with the client to find out what positive skills and elements they have in their lives to help them control their mental and social concerns. 

Three easy steps to get an ESA Letter with ESA Doctors
If you’re unable to visit a LMHP or your therapist is not familiar with ESA laws, you may connect online with a LCSW to apply for a legitimate ESA Letter.
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LCSW Client Assessment and Treatment Planning 

An LCSW utilizes a very holistic and client-centered approach, using practical and relatively accessible solutions for a client. An LCSW takes into account the societal and environmental factors in a client’s life and focuses on any positive factors that could assist a client in improving their current health and situation. By identifying the client’s strengths, the LCSW encourages a client to solve issues using the tools they have available in their lives. 

The LCSW’s comprehensive assessment process takes into account a client’s strengths, challenges, and the social-cultural environment in their personal and professional lives. Once this assessment is completed, an LCSW collaborates with the client to create a series of treatments that can achieve positive life changes by utilizing a client’s strengths and their immediate environment. 

An LCSW, in their practice, also provides counseling to their clients regarding mental health. Also, an LCSW can assist clients in navigating their way through the health system’s myriad of paperwork and policies. 

As you can see, much of an LCSW’s educational background consists of mental health and human development-related subjects.

An LCSW’s training places them in an ideal position to evaluate whether or not a client could benefit therapeutically from an emotional support animal.

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An ESA letter from an LCSW confirms that an ESA is a necessary and helpful option for you to overcome your mental or emotional challenges. An LCSW is a valid source for a letter.

An LCSW can help evaluate if an ESA is right for you
An LCSW can help evaluate if an ESA is right for you.

What the Law Says 

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professionals can write an ESA letter stating that an animal provides emotional support that assists in the alleviation of one or more symptoms of a disability. An LCSW fits the description of a person who may write an ESA letter. 

Emotional support animals work to help humans cope with life’s rough patches. It’s good to know that along with animals, there is an extensive network of health professionals out there willing to help through those challenges.

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You may also find these articles helpful:

  1. How to get an emotional support animal
  2. How to certify an emotional support dog
  3. How do I renew my ESA letter?
  4. ESADoctors.com reviews from real clients