Letters are NOT written by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).
In order for an ESA letter to be genuine, it must be written by a licensed mental health practitioner. Examples of qualified professionals include therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Other types of doctors, though highly educated and knowledgeable, typically do not specialize in the mental health field and therefore cannot properly recommend or prescribe an ESA. Depending on the state, some general physicians may be considered LMHPs, but be sure to check before you ask for an ESA letter.
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Because ESAs are strictly for people who suffer from mental disabilities such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress, a mental health professional is the only person who can determine if an ESA is an acceptable form of treatment. This is important because it keeps people who do not need ESAs from taking advantage of laws that are meant to protect people with mental health disabilities. Even if the need for an ESA is legitimate, the letter is not valid if it is written by anyone other than a licensed mental health professional. Services that do not offer letters written by qualified professionals are not genuine and cannot provide a true ESA letter or certification. Be sure to double-check that the staff of your ESA service is properly accredited.
There is NO screening.
ESAs are prescribed to people who suffer from mental disorders who find some relief of their symptoms because of their pets. Even though everyone feels better when they are with their pet, it is quite different for people whose mental well-being is dependent on the presence of their animal. In order for a mental health professional to prescribe an ESA as a form of ongoing treatment for a disorder, they must screen your mental state. Without a screening, no diagnosis of a mental health condition can be made, therefore, no true prescription for an ESA can be written. legitimate ESA service will want to ensure that you truly meet the qualifications to get an ESA. Often, ESAs are prescribed in addition to other forms of treatment such as talk therapy, so it is important to receive a thorough evaluation by a licensed mental health professional.
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The Service calls itself a ‘registry’ and asks you to sign up for it.
There is no national registry for ESAs. If an ESA service is trying to get you to sign up to be a part of a registry or charges to be added to one, the service is not genuine. People often assume that there is some kind of registry or paperwork that comes with getting an ESA, but a letter written by a mental health professional is the only documentation that is actually required.
Many online services today trick people into spending money to join an “Official ESA Registry” that does not actually exist and really just pocket the cash. Be wary of any services that require fees or your personal information, because it is not necessary to properly obtain an ESA letter. These services just want to take your money and may even sell your personal information without your knowledge.
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There is no follow-on service.
You need an ESA service that will continue to help you after you’ve received your letter because occasionally follow-on service will be required. Some airlines may require authorization forms or verification requests to be fulfilled by your service before they let your ESA on a flight with you. Additionally, some property managers and landlords may request updated ESA letters every now and then. If an ESA service doesn’t include follow-on services such as verification requests, be cautious. Situations may appear where you need additional authorization for your ESA letter, so you want to make sure that the ESA service you use is always available to help you out. A genuine ESA service will clearly state that they offer follow-on service when requested.