How to Ask a Doctor for an Emotional Support Animal & Get An ESA Letter
The ever-changing world of mental disorders, psychological imbalances, and general medical discoveries can be confusing and sometimes frustrating. You might hear that getting an animal to help you cope with anxiety is hugely beneficial, or you might hear that it’s not necessary.
To makes things more confusing, a quick Google search about emotional support animals (or ESA’s) will generally pull up lots of get-it-quick, “cheap”, kinda pushy websites offering ESA letters for $100, lifelong licenses and so on. Many of these sites are actually scams that are selling you a piece of paper for an inflated price. To get a legitimate ESA Letter, you should always have a doctor involved in the process. Our service makes sure that your ESA Letter is fully legal proof and done properly.
The truth is, getting an emotional support animal has become a tricky subject. For one, it really can help those who actually need it. For another, lots of people are trying to get their animals registered as ESAs simply because they’d like to travel with it on planes, or because they’d prefer not to pay the extra $500 fee for having a pet at their new apartment complex.
Whatever your reasons may be, US Service Animals can get you started on the right path immediately and make sure to support you through the process. You can do everything from the comfort of your home.
Doctors and Mental Health
Bringing up the discussion about mental health may be a little strange at first, but being open about emotions and thoughts can help your doctor identify what is irking you. If you’re already on board and you have a long history of great doctors, medicines you’ve taken for depression, anxiety, and OCD disorders, and you have plenty of experience in this department, you’re well on your way to figuring out this ESA business.
Or are you? Actually, a history of emotional or mental disorder medicines isn’t all it takes to prove you need an emotional support animal. It may be a deciding factor, but it’s also a good idea to have a therapist or counselor who you visit regularly, as well.
Not everyone is a fan of therapists and psychologists. It may seem silly to visit these professionals on top of regular check-ups with a doctor, but here’s why it’s actually a good idea: regular doctors can’t write ESA letters of recommendation.
If you’re considering scheduling a check-up with your favorite general practitioner to discuss getting an ESA, it’s a good idea to still schedule this visit. While many doctors and health practitioners can’t simply write an ESA letter and send you off with your happy furry friend, many of them do know where to find an LMHP.
A licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP) is someone who is licensed to diagnose or treat mental conditions with specific medicines, recreational therapies, or ESA and service animals. If you’re already regularly visiting a doctor and therapist about your mental health, it’s probably a quick call away for them to get your records to an LMHP.
If you’re not yet at the point where you can prove an ESA would help with the symptoms of your mental health, you probably shouldn’t ask a doctor or LMHP for an emotional support animal right off the bat. Unfortunately, this will usually result in them turning the request down because they’re beginning to see a lot of random requests for ESAs from people who do not honestly need the letters but simply want to use them to travel or live with a pet.
Asking Your Doctor
For those who are wishing to ask their doctor about LMHPs available nearby and about emotional support animals, here’s a rough how-to guide:
Schedule an Appointment
If you have a doctor or clinic nearby which you prefer, schedule your appointment there. If you’re not connected to any health provider near you, perhaps take some time to research a licensed medical health professional nearby.
Discuss symptoms you may be experiencing
If this is a regular check-up, update them on the state of your mental health. Be honest about how well or ill you have been recently. If you have never brought up mental health before with your doctor, try to approach the subject naturally and just be frank: you feel something is off.
Allow the doctor to make recommendations
Many times, if you have a record of medical and therapeutic treatments, your doctor may ask whether you think these are helping. They may want to tweak a medicine, try a new one, suggest less regular or more regular therapy appointments, etc. Allowing them to make recommendations before jumping to your own idea will help the doctor see you’re trying to make things better, not simply trying to fly with your poodle.
Ask if they have seen emotional support animals bring about good results
This can be done simply. “I’ve heard some good things about animals as a method of treatment; do you recommend this/think it is a viable option?” Try not to be pushy about getting an ESA. Doctors are becoming more wary about the general increase in desire for ESA letters.
Discuss this as an option
Your doctor will discuss with you his or her opinions and/or recommendations connected to emotional support animals. They may ask if you generally find yourself feeling better around your dog or cat, and they might give an example of why or why not this seems like a good idea.
Get recommendations for an LMHP
If you’re speaking with a doctor and not a licensed mental health professional (such as a therapist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, etc), you might want to ask for LMHPs in the area who could help with analyzing your mental health and writing you an ESA letter (if that’s the right option and if your doctor agrees).
Reach out to the LMHP and allow them to communicate with your doctor
Contact the licensed mental health professional you have decided on to schedule an appointment. Convey your past history of emotional and mental health honestly and bring up concerns both you and your doctor may have listed. Many LMHPs will want to discuss options with your doctor or be in contact for easy record access and so on. This is something you need to be okay with.
Get the letter of recommendation for an ESA
This is something that happens when you need it. If you’re pushy about wanting an ESA, many doctors and LMHPs will assume you’re trying to use the letter as an excuse to travel easier or live with your pet. If you’re clear about why you think an emotional support animal will benefit your daily mental and emotional health, and you’re honest about needing the letter for no other reason, you can obtain their written/typed letter quickly.
Pay for the letter
The price of an ESA letter will vary pretty widely. In some areas, it is more costly than others (in larger cities with a higher cost of living average). In other places, they are making it increasingly strict for ESA regulations and so the letter might cost more. Generally, you can expect it to be in the $100-$200 range, and these are good for a year.
Select your support animal or use your own
At this point, you need to either already have the animal which benefits you, or you need to select one that meets your needs which you can support. If you find your nerves are only calmed by a dog or a cat, you can purchase or adopt one of these loveable fuzzy animals and begin making your home its home as well. Make sure your landlord has okayed this process and has made any reasonable accommodations they need to on their part. Whatever animal you’ve chosen, make sure it is comfortable and well-loved in your environment.
Why Asking for an Emotional Support Animal Can Be Tricky
Why is obtaining an ESA such a seemingly difficult task these days? A growing number of people have tried jumping through hoops, avoiding actual mental health consultations and buying scam online ESA letter copies so they can easily fly with their animals or live with them.
Bringing up the ESA topic with a doctor or LMHP can also be tricky because they’re aware of the growing demand for these letters and they’re trying to respect their career and practice by making sure only those who really need it will be able to get an ESA. That’s why the process can take a while to go through and there needs to be proof of mental or emotional benefits from an ESA.
Since many people are trying to dupe health professionals or bypass them completely to obtain this written medical form, it’s a good idea to not mention online deals you’ve come across, airplane travel with your ESA, and housing requirements your landlord may be insisting on. This sends up red flags for professionals that you’re mainly interested in the letter for practical purposes and not mental/emotional health needs.
US Service Animals can get you started on the right path immediately and make sure to support you through the process. You can do everything from the comfort of your home.
Broaching the subject
The first time bringing up an ESA with your doctor shouldn’t be awkward. It might be a little uncomfortable if you’re not sure you actually need one, and it might be uncomfortable if you’ve never even discussed mental/emotional health in depth with him or her.
If this is the first time bringing up the topic of emotional health in connection to animals, don’t come at it completely out of the blue. Allow your health professional to bring up questions about your general welfare. Usually, they will ask specifically about your mental and emotional state and this is a great time to bring up any concerns you may have.
Don’t mention ESAs if you have no past record of mental or emotional conditions which may justify it. If you have a track record of trying to ease your emotional and mindful woes and frustrations, broaching the subject of obtaining an ESA should be painless and almost expected. It shouldn’t feel awkward or like you’re trying to sneak anything past the doctor of your choice.
Bring Up Your Own Animal
If you’re interested in getting an ESA letter because you’ve already noticed large benefits of having your own animal around regularly, this can become a comfortable and easy transition. Often, doctors and LMHPs will ask why you think having an animal specifically will help your conditions.
If you have experience with your dog, cat, bird, bunny, gerbil, etc and you can list relevant examples of how their presence and intuitive natures have helped you through rough days or all the time, most doctors and LMHPs will recognize that they are, in fact, helping you and you can qualify for an ESA letter more easily.
What Not to Do
If you go through the entire process and the health professional you’re speaking with says something along the lines of, “While you have emotional/mental health needs, I feel they are met sufficiently through medicine/counseling/therapy/etc. and have therefore decided to hold off on writing an ESA letter…”
Getting a little upset or disappointed is natural, but don’t make the LMHP out to be the bad guy. They’re just protecting the needs for ESA letters everywhere. Don’t leave on bad terms, leave whiney reviews, or go online to scammers and unofficial ESA letters if you’re turned down at first.
Try again later. Sometimes, in select cases where you truly feel there was a mistake made on the LMHP’s part and you’re 100% not making some of the symptoms you experience up in your head, it may be a good idea to seek out another health professional who may be able to help.
You may want to wait for a while and see if you really are fine without the ESA letter. Your animal at home may help you with coping just fine without an official letter, and you may have to pay a small fee for housing it in your rental or flying with it anywhere. Perhaps certain added medicines can help ease your nerves during travel so your furry friend can stay home.
Whatever course of action you choose to take, be respectful of an LMHP’s decision, whether you agree or disagree. If you still feel like you really do need an ESA, bring it up again with your doctor or perhaps another professional, but be completely honest about seeking one before and how you feel you still need one for medical and emotional purposes.