How to Get an Emotional Support Animal: Understanding the Basics

Emotional support animals (ESAs) have been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. These animals play a crucial role in providing comfort and support for those who suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. Many people consider their ESA to be a part of their therapy regimen, and for good reason. But how does someone go about getting an emotional support animal? In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about getting an ESA, including eligibility requirements, the selection process, training, and legal documentation.

Eligibility Qualifications

The first step in getting an emotional support animal is to determine if you qualify. While many people assume that simply wanting an ESA is enough to get one, the process is a bit more complicated. In order to qualify, you must have a clinical diagnosis of a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression. This diagnosis must come from a licensed therapist or doctor and must be current, typically within the last year.

It’s important to note that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. While service animals, such as guide dogs or hearing dogs, are trained to perform specific tasks for their owners, ESAs are not trained to do the same. Instead, their presence alone provides comfort and emotional support for their owners.

Selection Process

After you’ve determined that you qualify for an ESA, the next step is to choose the right animal. While many people opt for dogs or cats, any domesticated animal can be trained to be an emotional support animal. Some people may find that reptiles, birds, or even miniature horses provide more comfort for them than traditional pets.

When selecting an ESA, it’s important to consider the benefits that different animals can provide. For example, dogs may be more outgoing and can be great for people who need more social interaction, while cats may be more low-key and independent, making them a great choice for people who need a quieter presence.

It’s also important to consider any allergies or housing restrictions when selecting an ESA. Some people may be allergic to certain pets, and some landlords may not allow certain animals in their properties.

Training an Emotional Support Animal

While emotional support animals don’t require the same level of training as service animals, it’s still important to ensure that they are well-behaved and properly trained. Essential training techniques for emotional support animals include basic obedience, socialization, and desensitization to certain triggers.

Proper training can also help reduce anxiety and other symptoms. For example, a well-trained emotional support dog may be able to sense when their owner is feeling anxious and can provide comfort and support to help them feel more calm.

Legal Documentation

Once you have selected an animal and have started the training process, it’s time to obtain legal documentation for your emotional support animal. This documentation includes a letter from your therapist or doctor stating that you have a clinical need for an ESA. This letter should be on official letterhead and contain specific information about your condition and how an ESA can help.

In addition to the letter from your therapist, you may also need to provide medical records for both yourself and your animal, as well as any additional paperwork required by your airline or landlord. It’s important to check with your specific airline or housing provider to determine what documentation may be required.

Choosing the Right Therapist

When seeking an ESA, it’s important to work with a licensed therapist who can provide you with the appropriate documentation. If you don’t currently have a therapist, there are a variety of ways to find one. Many therapists now offer online sessions, which can make it easier to find someone who is a good fit for you.

You can also ask friends or family members for referrals, or search online for licensed therapists in your area.

Caring for an Emotional Support Animal

Once you have obtained your emotional support animal and have all necessary legal documentation, it’s important to provide them with proper care. This includes regular grooming, feeding, and veterinary care, as well as providing a nurturing environment where they feel safe and comfortable.


Emotional support animals are an important part of therapy for many people. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health conditions, an ESA may be able to provide you with much-needed comfort and support. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can obtain an ESA and start reaping the benefits of their companionship.

By Riddle Reviewer

Hi, I'm Riddle Reviewer. I curate fascinating insights across fields in this blog, hoping to illuminate and inspire. Join me on this journey of discovery as we explore the wonders of the world together.

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