What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are also known as companion animals. Companion animals provide valuable benefits to individuals who are experiencing anxiety, panic, recovering from trauma, or depression.
Normally, animals chosen as a pet usually consist of playful, attractive and loyal personalities. According to medical professionals pets provide various physical and mental benefits to their owners. Thus, Emotional Support Animals are widely being used to provide pet therapy which in turn reduces their guardian’s psychological symptoms and enhance the impact of usual medical treatments and remedies.
Gone are the days when people used to avoid entry of pets in hospitals and rehabilitation centers in order to prevent associated infections. However, now therapeutic animals are easily found in children hospitals and various adult rehabilitation centers providing social support which is necessary for improved response to medical treatments. I know you have seen the happiness and joy that comes to patients in a hospital when a therapeutic animal is making their rounds.
Studies Reveal That Your Mental Health can be Improved by an Emotional Support Animal
Scientists have proven that the Emotional Support Animals can aid in reducing anxiety, stress, depression and loneliness for any age, from kids to mature adults. Scientific studies reveal that lesser stress level is associated with enhanced recovery.
According to the research that took place in 2012 (Gouin & Kiecolt-Glaser), presence of anxiety or higher stress levels can delay the process of injury recovery and wound healing. Similarly, it was reported in 2009 research (Cherniack & Cherniack) that older adults’ anxiety was cured due to the presence of a pet dog. Moreover, a study carried out in 1991 (Allen, Blascovich, Tomaka & Kelsey) discovered that dogs aid in regulating autonomic stress level in females. Furthermore, other than psychological benefits, a study conducted in 2002 (Beetz, Uvnas-Moberg, Julius, & Kotrschal) suggested that, pet therapy has been also involved in reducing heart rates and high levels of blood pressure that occurs due to higher stress level.
Emotional Support Animals are different from Psychiatric Support Animals
It is possible that person is suffering from severe psychological disorder that requires a more skilled animal than an ESA, a Psychiatric Support Animal would be prescribed. In such case, more trained pets compared to ESA are suggested by the treating provider. Psychiatric Support Animals (PSA) are more skilled and specially trained and certified. They have the ability to find their owners, give them the sense of protection, help them to cope with panic attacks, etc.
How to acquire an Emotional Support Animal Letter
Before applying to have an Emotional Support Animal, it must be made clear that your companion animal will not be allowed to go everywhere with you. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, all types of service animals are not permissible in non-pet friendly hotels, restaurants, taxis, etc. The U.S. ESA Program scrutinize very heavily for taking pets on a flight and places where they are not necessarily required to be taken.
In order to attain an ESA, you are required to have been working with a licensed therapist who can write an Emotional Support Animal letter for you. The Emotional Support animal will not be liable to carry out any work like other service animals. They are just going to be there to provide comfort to the patient with the mental health diagnosis. Your psychotherapist or medical professional has to diagnose you with mental health diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, stress, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, mood disorder, certain phobias or other related disabilities to qualify you to get an Emotional Support Animal Letter.
At Dr. Angela Reiter & Associates, when you are in treatment with us, we can discuss whether an Emotional Support Animal could assist you with your symptoms and provide you with the Emotional Support Animal Letter.