For Writing Emotional Support Animal Letters
A client comes to you and asks for an Emotional Support Animal letter to live in their apartment. Knowing the Ohio board put out a statement on Emotional Support Animals you are probably wondering…
Could you get disciplined from the board for writing this letter?
What does the board say about writing Emotional Support Animal Letters?
How do you write the letter to follow guidelines?
Is this in your scope of practice?
What about your client, who you just want to help keep their companion?
I can help answer those questions...
I am offering consultations for therapists wishing to write an ESA letter for their clients.
Nationally, the ability to write a letter for Emotional Support Animals is not regulated or overseen. Lack of regulation has increased the existence of “registration” options, where clients can pay a fee to have a “letter certifying their pet” as an Emotional Support Animal leading to a variety of legal and ethical concerns:
In California, a licensed marriage and family therapist issued an ESA letter to an out-of-state client based on the client’s responses to an internet questionnaire. The letter reported that the client was under the therapist’s care. However, the client and therapist had never spoken, either in person or via technology. The Board of Behavioral Sciences found two causes for discipline:
The therapist was practicing out of state without a license, and the therapist had not done a “proper assessment” before issuing the ESA letter.
In response to the increasing legal and ethical issues, in 2019 the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapy Board issued a statement in regards to Emotional Support Animal(ESA) letters, becoming one of the first states boards to take a stance regarding writing ESA letters
CSWMFT Board licensees should not provide letters of support for ESAs or service animals unless they have education, training, and experience in assessing clients to determine the need for an ESA or service animal. Such training and experience should include understanding the needs of the human client as well as the needs and capacity of the proposed ESA or service animal….
I also provide consults for therapists and clinicians needing assistance with specific cases or to help walk through the process ethically.
Consult rates for professionals for ESA letter writing is $100 an hour.
Consults can consist of:
-Video meeting discussing case and assessment
-Oversight of letter writing
-Assistance with linkage to appropriate animal trainer OR personal assessment of animal if within 1 hour of Columbus, Ohio.
Please email me for more information.
What the Animals Taught Me...
Training April the Kangaroo to paint.
Being a therapist is my second career. I was an animal trainer for nearly a decade and a half. I has worked with the Miami Seaquarium, US Navy, Moss Landing Marine Labs, and the Milwaukee County Zoo working with bottlenose dolphins, seals, sea lions, and a killer whale. I was a former lead keeper at Tanganyika Wildlife park caring for education animals and a mob of kangaroos, one of which she trained a kangaroo to paint. I also have years of experience working with dogs as a vet assistant, kennel tech, and as an assistant trainer doing basic obedience and assessing dogs for therapy work for Therapy Dogs International, PTSD dogs for vets, and Emotional Support Animal designations.
No matter the books or classes, I feel strongly that my greatest teachers were the animals I had the honor to collaborate with. I am eager to combine her two worlds and empower therapists to be better advocates for humans and animals. I have had the honor of working with a dolphin to learn to give voluntary blood draws, help a sea lion get a check up, and partner up with a kangaroo who I taught how to paint. When you work with animals (no matter the species) you build relationships based on trust. The relationship you have with your partner, is based on trust, as is the relationship you have with your therapist.
My experiences with these incredible animals are why I adore working with relationships. They taught me the most important things I needed to know in how to build trust, respect, and compassion. This is why I am starting to expand my practice to include training therapists and teaching clients how to be advocates for their animal companions. I want to help support both clients and clinicians in using the strength of the human and animal bond to achieve better overall well-being.