Emotional Support Animals: A Helping Paw for College Students
By: Liz Lynch
Colleges have recognized that animals have an innate ability to reduce stress; this is why they organize campus events such as petting zoos and therapy dog visits around midterm and finals times. However, college students have taken a particular interest in Emotional Support Animals in recent years to help combat mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Unlike Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals do not have specific training; this is a very important distinction as Service Dogs have life saving jobs that they are trained and licensed to do. Emotional Support Animals on the other hand could be considered a pet with a project; but don’t let the cute name fool you though, their project is very important to the student’s mental health as they provide companionship and comfort 24/7.
Students who are interested in having an Emotional Support Animal with them at college must go through a short process before the animal is permitted on campus. They must receive a letter of recommendation from their licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist explaining the circumstances that require them to have an ESA. The letter, vaccination forms, and a contract of responsibility must be signed and approved by the school before the arrival of the animal. Once the animal is approved and moved in their project begins!
- Reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
- Lowers feelings of loneliness/ isolation
- Offers a feeling of security and familiarity
- Provides mental and psychical stimulation
- Creates a feeling of responsibility and purpose
If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from a mental illness, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/