People who adore animals will be quick to tell you how much joy and unconditional love they receive on a daily basis from their furry pals. This feel-good-combo can warm even the toughest person’s heart.
It’s for these reasons that mental health professionals are now also acknowledging those emotions, and the consequential endorphins they release, to help people who suffer from mental health issues.
Renowned psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, wasn’t a stranger to this type of therapy and would often include his pet Chow (Jofi) in his therapy sessions with his patients.
Freud was obviously steps ahead of us when he used Jofi, but other mental health professionals are now realizing what this doctor witnessed; pets are good for people!
In this post we are going to cover the past and present of using ESA’s, the mental health benefits they provide, who these ESA’s can help and some interesting facts you will want to know if you plan on getting an emotional support animal of your own.
The Past and the Present of Emotional Support Animals
Dr. Freud wasn’t the only professional that used a therapy animal with his patients. According to Healthy Pets, it was actually a psychologist by the name of Boris Levinson that observed the way his dog (Jingles) could reach an autistic child, when no other human could. Levinson may have discovered this technique by accident in the 50’s, but it has gone on to be a drug-free way to help those with mild to severe mental disabilities.
One organization that stands out and has become a leader of Animal Assisted Therapy is the Delta Society. Based in Australia with approximately 1,000 volunteers, Delta’s AAT program has helped over 20.000 people in hospitals, senior homes and mental health units. And it’s not just dogs that get called-to-duty, this organization uses llamas, rabbits, horses, pigs, rabbits and even the occasional snake to bring comfort to those in need.
Mental Health Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal
As the benefits of using ESA’s grow, doctors are now expanding their patients to include those that suffer from;
- Mild to severe anxiety
- Agoraphobia (fear of being outside of home)
- Aerophobia (fear of flying)
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Stress-induced situations
- Social shyness
If you or a loved-one suffers from a mental disability, doctors are noting vast improvements with their patients in the following areas with the aid of an emotional support animal;
- Increase in being social
- Boost in their self-esteem
- Patients feel more safe and comforted
- More motivation
- Decrease in the symptoms of the diagnosed illness
Other Health Benefits of an ESA
Mental disabilities are not the only area emotional support animals are being used in. People residing in nursing homes are more active when there’s an animal involved in their daily routine which has also led to a decrease in their medications.
Other scientifically proven benefits of having an ESA is the heart rates of patients has been decreased and a flood of the feel-good hormone (oxytocin) is being released.
In addition, according to the Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work there has been an 82% reduction in the symptoms of PTSD (and other trauma-related issues) after just one week of having an emotional support animal.
Procedure for Getting an ESA
Steps to getting an ESA letter:
- Determine if an ESA would be beneficial to your mental health
- Make sure that your pet is well behaved
- Connect with a licensed therapist IRL or online
- Have your therapist write an ESA letter on your behalf on their letterhead
If you believe you would benefit from having an emotional support animal, then your first step is to have a mental health professional diagnosis you with a debilitating mental illness. Once you have seen a doctor and are under his/her treatment, he/she will then have to fill out the appropriate paperwork for you to present to your landlord or airline. If you do not have access to a therapist in the real world, you may use a legitimate ESA letter service such as ESA Doctors that works with licensed mental health professionals all across the country.
Emotional Support Animals Are Good for ALL People
Have you ever been having a really bad day and your dog will come over and lay his head on your lap? Some animal behaviorists suggest this submissive gesture is your pet’s way of showing empathy.
Animals tune into our moods by our body language, tone of voice and actions. It’s for these reasons (and more) that emotional support animals are being used to help out those that truly need it, and for those of us that just want the unconditional love and benefits a loving pet provides
If you feel you or a family member may benefit from an ESA, get in touch with your doctor/therapist or find a legitimate online ESA referral service to check for eligibility and to get the process started.
Start your questionnaire now to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal.
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