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Emotional Support Animal Evaluation

Posted by on Apr 11, 2016 in Jessica Richards | 2 comments

Disability Assessment and Letter of Prescription for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

Many of our clients come to us needing professional confirmation of a mental or emotional disability in order to utilize an ESA. Even if your pet is already registered as an ESA with an official registration agency, you will still need a letter prescribing your need for an emotional support animal written by a licensed mental health professional.

Positive Steps Counseling, LLC, offers this evaluation of your current emotional/psychological state to determine if you qualify as disabled.

Before you begin the evaluation process, it is important that you understand that you may not qualify. Our therapists maintain the highest ethical and professional standards and must determine that a client legitimately qualifies as disabled before a recommendation can be made.

If you do qualify, you will receive what is called a Letter of Prescription. That letter will clearly identify you as having a mental and/or emotional disability and is valid for one year from the date of the finding. It will be signed by a State of Florida licensed therapist.

It is important that you understand that additional actions—actions that are outside of the scope of this evaluation process—may be required by you to ascertain that your ESA is appropriately trained, registered, and/or certified to actually serve as a service animal on your behalf.

Our evaluation includes four parts, and you must complete all four parts before a finding can be made:

  1. at least one in-person counseling session in our office
  2. a complete and accurate medical and mental health history as reported in writing by you
  3. a secure and confidential online assessment or assessment(s)
  4. communication, either in writing or by phone, between your Positive Steps counselor and your current primary mental health care provider (a licensed individual you are actively seeing) *

*If you are not currently under the care of a mental health professional at the time of the evaluation, your Positive Steps therapist can become that provider, and additional in-person counseling sessions may be required before your evaluation can be completed.

Beyond a Letter of Prescription

Property managers, universities, and airlines are increasingly asking clients with ESA requests to have their primary mental health provider complete additional paperwork before recognizing and allowing an ESA. If this situation applies to you, Positive Steps will complete and submit additional paperwork one time at no additional cost to you. You must submit the required forms to your therapist within 60 days of receiving your Letter of Prescription, and you must provide the name, telephone number, and email or fax number of the person designated to receive the additional paperwork. In compliance with federal law, all additional paperwork requests must be accompanied by a signed (by you) Information Release Form. Because your personal information is confidential, we do not release any information about you without your written consent. Information Release Forms are available upon request from Positive Steps Counseling. If additional forms/paperwork are required (for example, you change housing and need to resubmit additional paperwork), this can be purchased separately.

What about Inquiries?

It may occur that someone will contact Positive Steps Counseling to check that the letter of prescription has been signed by a legitimate and qualified licensed therapist. Information about the validity of licensures is available on the Florida Department of Health website, and any inquiries about letters of prescription will be universally directed there. Federal law prevents us from even acknowledging any client by name.

The following are included in this Disability Assessment Package purchase:

  • one initial 50-minute, in-office consultation with a Positive Steps Counselor 
  • one or more online assessments
  • a review and evaluation of the client’s medical and mental health history as reported in the Positive Steps Counseling Admission paperwork
  • a consultation between a Positive Steps Counselor and the client’s primary care provider (therapist, psychiatrist, physician, etc. – either in writing or by phone)
  • if applicable, an official hard copy of the letter of prescription signed by a Licensed Mental Health Counselor


  1. It’s surprising to know that you would still need a letter for prescribing your need of an emotional support animal, even if it’s your own pet. I wonder why that would be the case in a time of need. This is something that came to my mind after my uncle bought a dog that he says would give him emotional support.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this blog and very helpful information. You have experienced some great adventures.