What is the Standard Procedure for Obtaining an ESA/PSD Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide

Obtaining an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) or Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) letter is a legal process that necessitates interaction with a qualified provider. To qualify for an ESA or PSD, you need to have a verifiable emotional or mental health condition for which an ESA or PSD provides relief. The letter, which confirms the necessity of your ESA or PSD for your mental health, must be issued by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP).

To begin the process, you must undergo a psychological evaluation with a licensed therapist who is qualified to assess your need for an ESA or PSD. The assessment can often be completed online. After your need is established, the LMHP will provide a formal letter which is your proof of eligibility to keep an ESA or PSD. This document must detail how your animal aids in alleviating symptoms of your mental health condition and should comply with federal and state laws. It’s essential to ensure that you connect with an ESA and PSD Letter provider that operates in line with legal requirements to ensure your letter is valid and recognized.

What is the Standard Procedure for Obtaining an ESA/PSD Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide

Key Takeaways

  • A licensed mental health professional must issue the ESA/PSD letter.
  • The letter validates your need for an ESA/PSD due to a mental health condition.
  • Legitimacy of the letter is essential to comply with legal standards.

Understanding ESA/PSD Letters

When seeking support for mental or emotional disabilities, knowing the essentials about Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD) letters is crucial. These documents authenticate a person’s need for an animal’s assistance.

Definition and Purpose

An ESA letter is a formal document penned by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). It asserts that you have a mental or emotional disability and that having an emotional support animal contributes to your wellbeing. This letter essentially allows your pet to live with you in housing that generally does not allow pets and to fly with you in the cabin of an airplane without additional fees. A PSD letter, on the other hand, can only be acquired for dogs specially trained to perform tasks that aid in a person’s psychiatric disability. Unlike ESAs, PSDs have access to public places under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Types of Support Animals

  • ESA: Typically any domesticated animal that provides comfort and emotional support by their presence.

    • Not required to perform specific tasks.
    • Recognized primarily for housing and airline accommodations.
  • PSD:

    • Always dogs.
    • Trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with a psychiatric disability.
    • Granted full access to public places.

Understanding the differences between these types of support animals is fundamental when you are certifying your pet as part of your mental health treatment plan.

Obtaining an ESA/PSD Letter

To acquire an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) or PSD (Psychiatric Service Dog) letter, understanding and following the designated procedure is crucial. This includes qualifying for an ESA/PSD, consulting a professional, undergoing an assessment, and ensuring the letter meets specific requirements.

What is the Standard Procedure for Obtaining an ESA/PSD Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide

Qualifying for an ESA/PSD

To qualify for an ESA or PSD, you must have a diagnosed mental health condition that significantly impairs one or more aspects of your daily life. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorders are common examples. An ESA or PSD should provide you with comfort and help manage the symptoms of your condition.

Consulting a Qualified Provider

You must consult with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This is a pivotal step in the process as they are authorized to determine your need for an ESA or PSD. Find a provider who is legally allowed to practice in your state, ensuring they can issue a legitimate ESA/PSD letter for your needs.

The Assessment Process

During your consultation, the LMHP will conduct a thorough assessment. They will review your mental health history and evaluate how an ESA or PSD could contribute to your therapy. It’s important that you provide honest and complete information during your assessment to ascertain the right support for you.

Letter Requirements and Verification

An ESA/PSD letter must include certain elements to be considered valid. It should be on the LMHP’s letterhead, state your mental health condition, and confirm that an ESA or PSD is a necessary part of your treatment. Verification may often require checking the credentials of the issuing professional and the letter’s recency, typically within one year.


In summary, securing an ESA or PSD letter involves a clear and structured process. You must consult with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP), who will assess your mental and emotional condition to determine your need for an emotional support animal. After evaluation, should you meet the criteria, you will receive a legally recognized letter. This document affirms that your animal is essential for your emotional well-being, enabling you to live and travel with your companion. Always ensure that the provider you choose adheres to the proper guidelines and legal requirements to maintain the validity of your ESA/PSD letter.