Who Can Write an Emotional Support Animal Letter: Discover now!

Who Can Write an Emotional Support Letter? Discover Now!

Updated on March 21, 2024
Written by Brenda Mejia

fact checked by Andre Gregatti

An Emotional Support Animal letter (ESA) is a recommendation made by a licensed mental health professional. It states that a person needs an emotional support animal to help deal with their mental health problems.

The ESA letter is crucial. It acknowledges the healing benefits of an emotional support animal for its owner. This includes comfort and emotional stability. These are often vital for a patient’s mental well-being.

The letter lets the animal get special allowances. For example, they can live in housing that generally doesn’t allow pets or fly with their owner on planes.

In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about an ESA letter. We’ll explain who can write one and how to get one after qualifying. Let’s jump right in!

Who Can Write an ESA Letter? 

As we’ve said, an Emotional Support Animal letter is key. It helps people who need their pets to cope with a mental condition or emotional challenges. However, not just anyone can write an ESA letter. Various emotional support animal laws are in place to ensure these letters are not misused.

The letter holds weight only if written by a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP). These qualified professionals have the authority to inspect and diagnose mental health conditions. They assess that an ESA is needed for the person’s mental well-being. This rule ensures that ESA letters only help those truly in need. Thereby serving their intended purpose.

The LMHPs would usually start with a thorough assessment. They would check the person’s mental health status and see if the ESA would help with their condition. A personalized evaluation shows the importance of having these letters written by professionals. They must know and be legally recognized for their expertise in mental health care.

Licensed Mental Health Professionals

Licensed Mental Health Professionals (LMHPs) are a group of healthcare providers. They are specifically trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders. Their training includes rigorous education in human psychology, behavior, and various therapeutic techniques. These courses are tailored to address emotional and psychological issues. 

LMHPs are different from other healthcare providers. They focus on mental health. This focus lets them understand and navigate psychiatric disorders and emotional well-being. This specialization is backed by a valid license. It ensures they meet the standards to provide high-quality mental health care.

LMHPs have a unique skill set. It empowers them to offer support and treatment. These can greatly improve a person’s life, especially for those with a mental illness.

So, which healthcare professionals qualify as LMHPs? Let’s explore a few examples.


Psychologists hold a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). They are trained to assess mental disorders. They do this through clinical evaluations and tests. 

As such, Psychologists can prescribe valid ESA letters. They do so after thoroughly evaluating an individual’s mental and emotional health. By exploring the depth of the patient’s emotional or mental issues, the psychologist can see if an emotional support animal would help.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD or DO) who specialize in mental health. Being physicians, they are unique among LMHPs in that they can prescribe medication. 

Their medical training allows them to evaluate patients. They do so from a broad biological and psychological view. This makes them qualified to discern when an ESA might be a beneficial treatment option.


Typically, physicians (MD or DO) are not mental health specialists. However, they can write ESA letters if they understand a patient’s emotional issues. 

Their assessment is generally more holistic. They consider both the physical and emotional aspects of a patient’s health. Still, physicians often refer patients to a mental health specialist for an ESA evaluation.

Licensed Counselors

Licensed Counselors have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. They are trained to diagnose and provide therapeutic services for mental health problems. 

They can issue ESA letters after evaluating an individual’s need for emotional support from an animal. Their skill in therapy makes them good at judging if an ESA suits their clients.

Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants (PAs), under the supervision of a physician, can also recommend ESA letters. They must know about mental health conditions and the healing effects of emotional support animals. 

PAs can assess a patient’s mental health condition. However, they would need their supervising physician’s approval before authorizing an ESA letter.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses are registered nurses with specialized training in psychiatric nursing. With their advanced degrees, they can assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with mental health issues. They can also recommend an ESA as part of the treatment plan. 

Their nursing background provides a unique perspective on patient care. This includes the benefits of emotional support animals.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) have a master’s degree in social work. Often, they also undergo specialized training in mental health. 

As such, LCSWs are qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health conditions. They can issue ESA letters based on a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s social and emotional needs.

Can a Regular Doctor Write an ESA Letter?

Yes, a regular doctor or general practitioner (GP) can write an ESA letter. However, they have to be fully informed about the patient’s mental health condition. They also have to believe that an ESA would contribute positively to the patient’s treatment plan.

GPs may not specialize in mental health. But, they can recognize signs of emotional distress in their patients. 

If a GP has a longstanding relationship with a patient and is familiar with their health history, they can legally issue a valid ESA letter. However, some entities might require an ESA letter from a mental health specialist. This is mainly to ensure that the recommendation comes from an informed evaluation.

Can a Licensed Professional Counselor Write an ESA Letter?

A licensed professional counselor (LPC) is well-qualified to write an ESA letter. LPCs possess a deep understanding of mental health problems. They undergo specific training and education in counseling and psychological therapies.

So, if an LPC concludes that an ESA would help, their ESA letter is valid and appropriate. Like most other LMHPs, they use their expertise to ensure that ESA recommendations are based on professional judgment. This judgment aims to enhance the patient’s mental health.

Can a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Write an ESA Letter?

Yes, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) has the authority and qualifications to write an ESA letter. LCSWs have extensive training in mental health and social work. This includes the ability to assess and diagnose individuals with mental health issues. 

LCSWs take a holistic approach to patient care. It encompasses the social, environmental, and psychological factors affecting an individual’s mental health. This makes them good at finding the therapeutic benefits of an emotional support animal.

When issuing an ESA letter, an LCSW would need to evaluate the patient’s mental health needs thoroughly. They can then determine how an ESA would aid their emotional support system.

Can a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Write an ESA Letter?

Certainly, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) is qualified to write a valid ESA letter. LMFTs mainly specialize in psychotherapy and counseling on family systems. But, they also work with individuals and couples to address many mental and emotional disorders.

Their training includes understanding the dynamics of mental health within various relationship contexts. This can be instrumental in recognizing the value of an emotional support animal in a patient’s life. 

If an LMFT assesses that an ESA would benefit the patient’s mental health, they can issue an ESA letter. They can base their recommendations on their specialized knowledge of relational dynamics and mental health.

How Do I ask My doctor for an ESA Letter?

Before talking to your doctor about getting an emotional support animal letter, consider why you need an ESA. Also, think about how it would help you. Write down your thoughts and any important points about your mental health. This shows your doctor that you’ve thought it through and understand how having a furry friend could help you. 

Be honest and open when you talk to your doctor, and be ready to explain your situation and answer any questions. It’s also good to know about the different ESAs out there, like emotional support dogs, and how they differ from service dogs or animals. Aim to have a clear and respectful conversation with your doctor about why an ESA is right for you.

Does Your Doctor Refuse to Write an ESA letter?

Sometimes, a doctor might say no to writing an emotional support animal letter. This can happen if they don’t think you need an ESA for your mental health or are unsure about the rules for ESA letters. If your doctor says no, ask them why and see if there are other ways to help your mental health. 

Remember, it’s not about them not wanting to help you. It is more about what they think is best for your mental health assessment. If you still feel you need an ESA, you should talk to a mental health professional who knows more about ESAs. They can give you another opinion and can help you get an ESA letter.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a pet that helps people with emotional or mental health issues feel better. Unlike regular pets, ESAs have a special role. They provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support to their owners. 

People with conditions like anxiety, depression, or stress might find that having an ESA helps them cope better with their daily lives. ESAs are not trained to do specific tasks or tricks like service animals. Their main job is to be there for their owner, offering love and support just by being around.

Are ESAs the Same as Service Animals?

No, ESAs and service animals are not the same. The main difference lies in their training and what they do for their owners. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks that help with their owner’s disability.

For example, they can open doors, detect health emergencies, or help with mobility. On the other hand, ESAs don’t have this kind of training. Their role is to provide emotional support through their presence. This can help their owners feel calmer and less stressed.

Another big difference is in their legal rights. Service animals are allowed in most public places, like restaurants, stores, and airplanes. This is because they are essential for their owner’s daily functioning. ESAs, however, don’t have the same broad legal rights.

They can live in housing that usually doesn’t allow pets and sometimes fly with their owners. But they’re not allowed everywhere. The primary role of a companion animal is to offer emotional support, not to perform tasks related to a disability.

Federal Laws for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

The primary federal laws that protect Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). These laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, recognize the importance of ESAs in supporting individuals with emotional or mental disabilities. They prevent discrimination and ensure accessibility to housing and air travel, respectively.

Let’s explore these laws a little further.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law designed to prevent discrimination in housing. It’s based on disability, among other protected classes. The act mandates that those with disabilities, including those needing ESAs, can live with their animals. They can do this regardless of pet policies. 

This act underscores the necessity of an official ESA letter. This is because the letter documents that a person’s service animal is indeed an ESA and not a pet.

The rights under the FHA for ESA owners include the ability to live in housing that otherwise has a no-pet policy. It also demands the waiver of pet fees. Overall, this ensures that individuals with disabilities can use their ESAs without extra costs.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) ensures that people with disabilities can travel on airplanes with their ESAs. Recent changes have adjusted how airlines accommodate ESAs. However, the ACAA historically dictated that individuals could fly with their ESAs in the cabin at no extra charge.

Airline policies may vary. But, the ACAA prevents discrimination against disabled travelers. The American Disability Act recognizes the animal’s role in their owner’s well-being. This facilitates their traveling with support animals for their emotional and psychological health.

Benefits of Having an ESA Letter

Having an emotional support animal letter has its share of benefits. Coming from a licensed mental health professional it certifies that the animal is a necessary part of their treatment. It shows that the animal offers essential mental and emotional health support.

Some common benefits include:

  • Access to housing
    An ESA letter allows individuals to live with their emotional support animal in residences with a no-pet policy. This ensures their right to necessary emotional support is respected.
  • Reduced pet fees
    Many housing facilities and airlines waive their pet fee for ESAs. They recognize them as essential for the well-being of individuals with emotional disabilities.
  • Emotional Support for Mental or Emotional Disabilities
    An ESA can ease the symptoms of many mental disorders or emotional disabilities. This allows comfort and stability to those in need.

How Do You Qualify for an ESA?

To qualify for an ESA, an individual must have a diagnosed mental or emotional disability that affects normal life activities. A licensed mental health professional must determine that the individual needs an emotional support animal for their mental health and well-being.

This process ensures that ESAs only go to those who need their companionship and support.

Requirements for ESA Eligibility

To get an emotional support animal, you need a few things. First, you have to have a mental disorder or emotional problem. This could be specific symptoms. For example, regular anxiety episodes, feeling very sad, worried, or other deep feelings. These feelings make it tough to do normal activities.

Next, you will meet a special doctor, like a psychologist or therapist. They have in-depth knowledge about such feelings and mental conditions. By talking to you, they’ll be able to evaluate your condition and determine if you’ll need an Emotional Support Animal.

At this point, the doctor will write you a special doctor’s note called an ESA letter. The Letter will state that you need your pet to provide therapeutic comfort. You can use it to get your furry friend through some pet-restricted areas.

In some cases, you might need to get a new ESA recommendation letter every year. Here, your doctor will evaluate the progress of your condition and determine if you still need your pet for support.

What Is the Process of Getting an Online ESA Letter? 

When getting an ESA letter online, there are certain steps you should take. These steps are designed to ensure that your request is legitimate. They also ensure that the ESA is indeed beneficial for your mental health.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Research and Select a Reputable Online Service: Find a credible online provider connecting patients with licensed mental health professionals.
  2. Complete an Initial Online Questionnaire: This preliminary form typically asks about your mental health history and why you seek an ESA.
  3. Schedule a Consultation: Based on your questionnaire, you’ll be matched with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist who will conduct a more detailed evaluation. This is often via video or phone calls.
  4. Undergo a Mental Health Evaluation: During the consultation, the professional will assess your mental health needs and determine if an ESA would benefit you.
  5. Receive Your ESA Letter: The licensed professional will issue an ESA letter if you qualify. This document confirms your need for an emotional support animal.
  6. Review and Use Your Letter: You’ll receive your ESA letter, usually via email. You can use to secure housing or travel accommodations for you and your ESA.

Get your Official ESA Letter Consultation from a licensed therapist.

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What to Look Out for Before Getting an Online ESA Letter

Before getting an ESA letter online, it’s crucial to be vigilant to ensure the process is legitimate.

First, research the credibility of the online provider. There are many services available, but not all operate ethically or legally.

Next, look for reviews and testimonials. Also, look at the provider’s method for connecting you with licensed mental health professionals. A reputable service, like ESA Pet, will be open about its healthcare professionals’ qualifications.

Another critical aspect is understanding the legality of the ESA letter you’re obtaining. The letter must be issued by a licensed mental health professional who is legally allowed to practice in your state.

The document should include all necessary details. For example, the professional’s license number, issue date, and license type. Be wary of services that promise instant letters without proper evaluation. Landlords or airlines often do not recognize these.

Credibility of the Online Provider

The credibility of the online provider is paramount when obtaining an ESA. You should be able to trust a service to easily connect you with a licensed mental health professional. 

Check for accreditation, such as a Better Business Bureau rating, and look for reviews or feedback from previous clients. A credible provider will ensure that your evaluation is conducted by a licensed professional in your state. This will provide peace of mind that the process is legitimate.


The legality of the ESA letter is non-negotiable. It must be written by a licensed mental health professional. It should also include specific information like the date of issuance and the professional’s license details.

The letter should clearly state that you have a mental or emotional condition that benefits from having an ESA. Ensure that the service you choose adheres to these legal requirements. Failure to do so can result in a letter not being accepted by landlords or airlines.


Be cautious of the cost involved in obtaining an ESA letter online. You can expect to incur some costs for the professional’s time and evaluation. However, be wary of services that charge exorbitant prices or seem too cheap to be true. 

Compare costs between reputable services to get a sense of what is fair. Remember, a higher price only sometimes guarantees legitimacy. Very low prices may indicate a lack of proper evaluation.

Questions and Evaluations

The depth and nature of the questions asked during the evaluation process are crucial indicators of legitimacy. 

A comprehensive guide thorough evaluation will cover various aspects of your mental health and how an ESA would benefit you. It should feel comprehensive and professional, not rushed or generic. This step is essential for ensuring an ESA is appropriate for your situation.

Format and Content

Finally, the format and content of the ESA letter should meet standard requirements. It should be on the professional’s official letterhead and include a statement about your need for an ESA. Also required are the mental health professional’s signature, license information, and contact details. 

A legitimate letter will clearly state your condition as recognized under the DSM. This will provide legal validity to your claim for an ESA.

Frequently Asked Questions about ESA Letter

Who Can Legally Write an ESA Letter?

Only licensed mental health professionals can legally write an ESA letter. This includes psychiatrists, psychologists, and other therapists. These are licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) and licensed professional counselors (LPCs) licensed to practice in your state.

Can A Primary Care Physician Write an ESA Letter?

Yes, a primary care physician (PCP) can write an ESA letter. But they have to know your mental health history and believe an ESA would benefit your condition. Still, it’s more common for mental health specialists to write these letters.

Where Can I Get an ESA Letter? 

You can get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. The professional needs to evaluate your need for an emotional support animal first. You can do this in person or through a legitimate online service that connects you with licensed professionals.

Why Won’t My Therapist Write an ESA Letter? 

Your therapist might not write an ESA letter if they don’t believe your condition warrants an ESA. Likewise, they can’t write one if they are unfamiliar with the legal requirements of an ESA letter. It’s important to discuss your reasons for wanting an ESA with your therapist.

Can an Obstetrician Gynecologist Write an ESA Letter?

An obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) is a medical doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health. They can only write an ESA letter if they have specific knowledge of your mental health condition.


To wrap it up, ESA letters are a crucial aspect of obtaining an emotional support animal. You’ll need a licensed mental health professional to write you one. This ensures that the recommendation for an ESA is legitimate and based on the individual’s mental health needs.

In some cases, primary care physicians and other medical doctors, like general practitioners, can also write an ESA letter. However, it’s generally more appropriate for mental health specialists to do so. 

You can get an ESA letter from a licensed professional or a reputable online service. They help with these evaluations. It’s essential to understand the writer’s qualifications, the legalities, and the process. This is key for anyone considering an ESA for mental health.

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