You may have asked your doctor or therapist whether an emotional support animal is right for you. And, disappointingly, you may not have received the help you were expecting. An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal recommended by a licensed healthcare professional for a person with a mental or emotional health disability.

To reap the benefits of being an ESA owner, you need an ESA letter from a licensed professional. For various reasons however not all healthcare professionals may be able to help you with one. In this article we will address what to do if your doctor or therapist cannot assist with your ESA needs.

What is an ESA Letter? 

An ESA letter is a document from a healthcare professional establishing a person’s need for an emotional support animal. Because an ESA is necessary for managing a person’s mental health disability, the animal falls under the protection of specific federal rules. For example, the Fair Housing Act allows ESAs to reside with their handler, even in “no pets allowed” housing. 

A legitimate ESA letter contains the following elements: 

  • The mental health professional’s license type (psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker, etc.).
  • The date and the state where the mental health professional’s license was issued (must be current). 
  • The mental health professional’s letterhead and signature. 
  • The date the ESA letter was issued.
  • A statement establishing the need for the ESA. 

If you suffer from a mental health disorder and would like to qualify for an Emotional Support Animal online, ESA Doctors can help connect you to a therapist who is licensed in your state. Click below to get started.

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Asking for an ESA Letter 

If you’re already under the care of a licensed mental health professional, you can approach them about an ESA letter. This person is in an ideal position to understand your needs and living situation.

It can be difficult to inquire about an ESA with your therapist because you might fear being rejected or judged about relying on an animal. Take comfort however that therapists and doctors are there to help you without judgment. Starting the dialogue can lead you on a new path to healing, whether or not your therapist writes an ESA letter. 

How to ask a doctor for an Emotional Support Animal Letter - ESA Doctor

Are Therapists Obligated to Write an ESA Letter Upon Request? 

A licensed healthcare professional is not required to write an ESA letter, even if a client requests one. A therapist must make a professional decision regarding their client regardless of their desires. In certain instances a healthcare professional might not believe an ESA is appropriate for their client. It is also common for some healthcare professionals to not write ESA letters because they are unfamiliar with ESAs and the rules governing them.

There are also certain clinics and health establishments that have a blanket policy against writing ESA letters. That might be due to ESAs being outside the scope of their knowledge or practice. If you are seeking an ESA letter, it can be helpful to find a doctor or therapist that has experience with ESA letters and is familiar with the process.

What to Do if Your Therapist Doesn’t Write ESA Letters as Policy?

Don’t take it personally if your licensed mental health professional does not write ESA letters as a policy. Their policy is not a reflection of your mental health needs. If you still feel strongly that an ESA could be a valuable part of managing your symptoms, you can take the following steps. 

1) Ask Your Therapist to Reconsider

Calmly and respectfully revisit the request with your therapist. Explain why you feel an ESA could be a valuable part of addressing your mental health and ask them to reconsider their policy. If you feel comfortable, you can offer your therapist some data regarding the effectiveness of ESAs in therapy. 

2) Find Another Therapist 

Another licensed mental health professional might be able to help you with an ESA letter, especially one that specializes in ESAs. There are many therapists and doctors that understand the value of ESAs and are familiar with how the process works.

3) Get an ESA Letter Online

When seeking an ESA letter from an online source, it’s vital to ensure their legitimacy. Your ESA letter is used as proof that your animal is an emotional support animal, so it must meet all the required criteria. Look for an online ESA Letter service with positive reviews and a track record of successfully helping clients.

Legitimate online sources do not automatically offer you an ESA letter. A legitimate ESA service will connect you to an independent licensed healthcare professional that can evaluate whether you need an ESA. You should be wary of any site that offers instant ESA letters or methods like registration or certifications for ESAs.

Woman talking to her therapist regarding the benefits of having an ESA.
If your therapist doesn’t write ESA letters as a policy, you may have other options to inquire if an emotional support animal is right for you.

When Your Therapist Doesn’t Write ESA Letters

If your therapist doesn’t write an ESA letter, it’s not the end of the world! Despite a close therapeutic relationship with your therapist, they may not write an ESA letter for you due to company policy, unfamiliarity with ESA rules or other reasons unrelated to your actual need for an ESA. You can find a licensed professional that is knowledgeable and understanding about ESA requests through a service like ESA Doctors.

Get your ESA Letter online, from the comforts of your home.

Three easy steps to get an ESA Letter with ESA Doctors
If you would like to work with a licensed healthcare professional to qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, ESADoctors may be able to assist you.