Have you ever wondered the difference between an Emotional Support Animal, Therapy Dog or Service Dog? This article is a brief overview, of the different companions.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
The animal provides therapeutic benefits to the owner at home through companionship.
Steps to getting an ESA:
Determine if an ESA is right for you. Ask yourself what are the possible benefits. Understand the work that is involved with owning an animal.
Find a licensed professional mental health therapist who is knowledgeable about ESAs. They will walk you through mental health assessments and other parts of the process. The therapist can write a legitimate letter for you to use and identify your animal as an ESA.
Adopt an animal. Do your research and choose an animal carefully. An animal can come from a rescue, shelter or trusted breeder. Common ESAs: dogs; cats; reptiles; rodents; birds (even chickens!). If you already have a pet that you would like to be your ESA, that’s great! Just be sure that your pet suits your needs.
Train your ESA to behave properly. Only basic animal training is needed, there are no special requirements. You are responsible for your animal’s behavior and if the animal damages property, being responsible paying for the damage.
Use your ESA letter properly.
Enjoy your emotional support companion!
The most common type of therapy animal is a dog, but other animals, like cats and horses can also be supportive.
Used in facilities, such as hospitals and retirement homes to provide affection and comfort.
Not all dog breeds fit being a therapy dog. The dog must be calm, affectionate and friendly to strangers at all times.
Therapy dogs don’t have to be trained for specific tasks like service dogs.
The dog needs to complete obedience training and register to become a certified therapy dog.
Trained to help people with visual impairment, diabetes, mental illnesses, and other disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and local government gives the option to people with disabilities to have a service dog, and (the ADA) punctuates that the dog is a working animal.
Must be well-trained to complete specific tasks related to the needs of the person with the disability. The dog must be fit to complete jobs that you cannot complete yourself.
Document all of the dog’s training and certificate.
I think of the graph as an umbrella. The emotions on the edge of the circle are related to the “main” emotions (or the emotions that we most commonly identify), which are in the very center. For example, when we feel confident and successful, we feel proud, and we feel happy.
If someone is struggling to pinpoint or identify what they are feeling, just seeing all of the emotions in front of them might be helpful.
This graph is good for teaching kids about other emotions, not just the “main” ones. So, when they feel happy about receiving a good grade at school, proud, confident and successful can be introduced to them.
“Like” and “follow” my mental health page on Facebook if you are interested in psychology and all things that are therapeutic and healthy lifestyle. I post mental health articles, blogs and free downloadable worksheets (blogs and worksheets are also available here on my website). My favorite things to share are inspirational and motivational quotes, random mental health facts and trail running photos that I took myself. You will occasionally see something about my favorite sport, running… and specifically, ultramarathon running. An ultramarathon is a distance further than a marathon. Running is about mental strength just as much as it is about physical strength. Running can teach us lessons that carry into everyday life, I like to integrate these things into my work in the mental health field.
People avoid going to therapy and there are a ton of valid reasons why. I believe that among the top reasons that people avoid seeing a therapist are due to anxiety, having a fear of the unknown, and the stigma around mental health and needing support. I want to see people receive the help that they need. I value the freedom and opportunities we have to reach out for help, it is okay to not be okay and to need to speak with somebody. It is okay to want some support. Feeling anxious or fearful are normal responses when you know that you will be divulging sensitive information to a stranger. This really is a big deal. To remove a little anxiety and stigma, here are some things that you can expect when you meet with me, and I know that all therapists strive to uphold these qualities and standards.
As a therapist, i won’t
Try to fix you.
Give you advice.
Tell you what to do.
Pretend to be the expert on your life.
Assume what is best for you.
Have all the answers.
Make the difficult stuff disappear.
As a therapist, I will
Have a non-judgmental approach.
Provide a fresh perspective.
Remind you that you aren’t broken.
Give you room to access your own wisdom.
Support you in figuring out what to do.
Remember that only you know what is best for you.
Honor that I don’t know it all.
Collaborate with you on how to make the difficult stuff easier to sit with.