What Is an Emotional Support Dog?
Although all dogs offer an emotional connection with their owner, to legally be considered an emotional support dog, also called an emotional support animal (ESA), the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist must determine that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient. For example, owning a pet might ease a person’s anxiety or give them a focus in life. The dogs can be of any age and any breed.
Emotional Support Dog vs. Service Dogs
ESAs provide support through companionship and can help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. However, they are not service dogs, and ESA users do not receive the same accommodations as service dog users.
Am I required to pay a pet fee?
No. Assistance animals are not considered pets. Landlords must waive
all pet fees or deposits for assistance animals. But if the animal causes
damage, you might still have to pay for repairs.
*Reference: American Kennel Club (AKC), Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT, Feb 24, 2021
Below are the minimum fees associated with provision of an ESA prescription. New patients will be required to pay the Diagnostic Assessment fee, existing patients will be charged the fee for completing documentation outside of sessions + the normal copayment or session fee.
Diagnostic Assessment/Evaluation/Testing Only = $250.00
Completion of paperwork/report writing outside of session = $75.00
Important considerations: Under the ADA and North Carolina law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals, only service animals. These laws also don't apply to pets.
Emotional Support Animal Information
Help for today, Hope for tomorrow
Patterson Psych Group, PLLC
Assessments & Documentation Services
If you are looking to have your pet certified as an ESA, you will meet
with one of our Licensed Mental Health Professionals to complete
a full Clinical Diagnostic Assessment. Diagnostic assessment aims to
see if the individual being assessed meets criteria or demonstrates
behaviors or symptoms that would meet criteria for a formal diagnosis.
The assessment will include an interview with the clinician, either in
person or via video, lasting about 60 minutes, during which your
medical and mental health history will be discussed, any symptoms
you are experiencing will be reviewed and if necessary a diagnosis
will be made.
Completion of a Clinical Diagnostic Assessment does not guarantee that you will receive a prescription/recommendation to an ESA. ESAs are only prescribed/recommended for individuals meeting the requirements based on laws under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, if you do meet criteria to receive a prescription/recommendation to an ESA, we cannot guarantee that the documentation provided will meet the requirements of the institution from which you are requesting the accommodation (i.e. some academic institutions require that documentation be provided by a Mental Health Professional that provides counseling/therapy/etc. to you on a regular basis).
If you have had previous mental health treatment, including medication management or counseling/therapy, you may opt to provide
your medical records for review during the assessment. You may also authorize Patterson Psych Group to request the records
from your previous or regular providers.