Your Complete Guide to Certifying Your Pet as an Emotional Support Animal

You share a trusted, unbreakable bond with your pet that’s like no other — you love them as much as any other member of your family, and they give you the kind of unconditional devotion and comforting companionship that enriches your life beyond measure. 

While you don’t need science to tell you that your pet has a profound effect on your well-being, a plethora of research backs it up nonetheless. Numerous studies show that a pet’s calming and supportive presence can make you feel less isolated, lonely, anxious, and stressed. 

But for people with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobias, and other undermining mental health disorders, the emotional support provided by a pet isn’t just reassuring and helpful, it’s a veritable lifeline to the wider world. 

If you’ve been thinking about having your pet certified as an emotional support animal (ESA), we can help — here at The Green Room Psychological Services Inc. in San Diego, California, we offer comprehensive ESA evaluations and official certification letters to those who qualify. Here’s what you need to know. 

From beloved pet to ESA

It’s easy to see that pets make people feel calmer, lighter, and more fulfilled — that’s the basic premise behind the emotional support animal concept. But what makes an ESA different from a beloved pet? 

An ESA provides concrete therapeutic benefits for children, teens, and adults who suffer from the life-limiting effects of a psychological, emotional, or mental health condition. 

By offering reliable companionship and unconditional support, an ESA’s very presence can lessen intense feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and other debilitating mental health symptoms.  

If you’re living with a mental health condition that interferes with your life, giving your beloved pet official status as an ESA allows it to legally reside in housing that enforces a strict “no pets” policy; it also allows you to keep your pet by your side when you travel by plane, providing it meets standard size requirements.  

ESA letter of certification

While your pet doesn’t require any special training or scrutinization to qualify as an ESA, it can become one only when a psychologist or licensed therapist confirms that you would benefit from having an ESA.  

ESA privilege is reserved for people who are affected by any life-limiting or paralyzing mental health condition, ranging from anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder to PTSD, social anxiety, and specific phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of being outside the home) and aerophobia (fear of flying). 

Here at The Green Room Psychological Services Inc., we aim to make the ESA certification process as streamlined and straightforward as possible. It’s as easy as one, two, three:

Step one: Have a well-behaved pet

Although your pet doesn’t require special training of any kind, it should be relatively calm and well-behaved in virtually any situation, especially if you plan to travel with your ESA companion or bring it to various public places. A dog that jumps on people, growls, or barks a lot isn’t an ideal ESA. 

Step two: Schedule an ESA evaluation

Your ESA evaluation determines if a pet can help ease the life-limiting effects of your particular mental health disorder. Your pet may qualify for ESA status if its presence helps you avoid intense anxiety in normal social situations, for example, or if it helps you find more purpose in your day while dealing with clinical depression

The calming, consistent companionship of an ESA can effectively treat many different mental health disorders, but the only person who can determine whether you truly need one is a licensed mental health professional. 

Although many people do qualify for ESA support, our team takes ESA evaluation seriously and doesn’t provide certification letters to patients whose mental, emotional, or psychological symptoms don’t limit or interfere with their lives.   

Step three: Receive your ESA letter 

If the evaluation process determines that you’re a good candidate for an ESA companion, you receive an official letter of certification that formalizes your relationship with your pet, at least from a legal perspective. You can benefit from the legal protection of the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act

These legal protections allow you to fly with your pet without having to pay additional airline fees, and live in “no pet” housing without having to provide an additional deposit. 

You don’t need to register your pet as an ESA, however; there’s no national “ESA database,” despite what you may read online.  

Maintaining ESA certification  

To ensure your ESA certification is accepted every time you fly or search for new housing, it’s important to keep it current. All ESA letters are valid for a full calendar year from their issue date; our team makes the renewal process as quick and easy as possible so your certification never lapses. 

To learn more about the ESA evaluation process or schedule a visit, call our San Diego office today or click online to book an appointment with one of our ESA specialists at any time.  

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