When are mental health professionals asked to get involved?
Most of the time mental health professionals are asked to get involved in the process when a client is interested in obtaining a service animal or emotional support animal (some clients may be unaware of the differences in terminology). The client often needs medical documentation to have a service animal and/or emotional support animal. Letters are often requested for the following purposes:
- Housing (when the housing may have a no pet policy and the client needs documentation to justify having the animal)
- Air Carrier (some airlines are asking for documentation for psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals, the airline should NOT ask for documentation for a service animal)
- Service Dog Program (the client is interested in applying for a service dog and they require a recommendation from a medical professional)
Why does this matter?
Here are some posts from Facebook (posted in service dog groups):
Best Practices for Mental Health Professionals
From a mental health professional who is also a service dog handler.
For a client looking for a service animal or emotional support animal:
Help the client understand:
Bringing a service animal to the clinic:
If you have seen the client and believe that they can benefit from a service animal or emotional support animal, write a letter!
If you have hesitations about whether or not the client can adequately care for a service animal or emotional support animal, have a discussion with the client about that. While it is not the mental health professional’s duty to determine whether or not a client is able to adequately care for the animal, there are times where they know the client well enough to discern whether or not the client can pay for the necessary care of the animal and/or whether or not the client would be a faithful human to their animal (and not abuse/neglect the animal).
What NOT to do: