Emotional Support Animals and Controversy

Emotional Support Animals and Controversy

By: Valeria Dubon

Emotional support animals (ESA’s) provide a comforting and consoling figure for individuals who suffer from some sort of mental illness. Although they can be in the form of many different pets, dogs are the most common form of ESA’s and they can be of any age and any breed. ESA’s can be defined as any animal that is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to offer emotional support to a person that is suffering from a disabling mental illness. One example could be a psychologist prescribing an emotional support dog to ease a patient’s anxieties. Emotional support animals, however, are not service dogs; there is a key difference between the two types of support. ESA’s deal more with offering a soothing and relaxing friend to the owner; they can help ease anxiety, depression and phobias. Even so, they are not allowed in many public places and cannot go everywhere where the public is allowed. A service dog helps individuals perform tasks that they cannot do on their own. For example, they are trained to assist and alert someone who is hearing impaired and/or visually impaired, they are not their for simply companionship. Their training must alleviate a certain disability.

There is even another type of service dog called psychiatric service dogs that detect the beginning of a psychiatric episode and ease their effects; again this is different from an ESA. Unfortunately, although ESA and service dogs are both essential in their own ways, ESAs are not treated with the same level of respect and importance; as many people believe that they are simply not needed at all. Many people fabricate the need for emotional support animals and take advantage of the system, with people having the ability to buy certifications for only $50. This only adds to the ESA controversy. This has caused many places, including airlines, to restrict the use of ESAs, leaving people who actually need them in an unfortunate situation. This controversy is currently ongoing, with many people being against the excessive use of an emotional support animal. In order to reduce the number of fraudulent ESA certifications, it has been suggested that a standardized ESA assessment could be made and conducted by forensic practitioners with stricter guidelines. This in turn not only helps the owners of ESAs, but also the general public as well. An actual assessment and training will keep aggressive animals and lax owners from not only irritating the public but also from endangering it.

If you or someone you know is in need of an emotional support animal, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. 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, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

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