New Article RE: Emotional Support Animals

Don't duck out on your ethical responsibilities

Apparently I have no shame when it comes to bad puns. Here is a heads-up about a new journal article that you might want to read; writing letters for emotional support animals may or may not be all that it is quacked-up to be. 😉

Examining Emotional Support Animals and Role Conflicts in Professional Psychology.
Younggren, Jeffrey N.; Boisvert, Jennifer A.; Boness, Cassandra L.
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Jun 2 , 2016,

This article examines the role conflicts that psychologists may face in their practices related to the evaluation and certification of emotional support animals (ESAs). It reviews the legal differences between ESAs and service animals (SAs), outlines ethical guidelines and legal policies/regulations regarding the use of ESAs, and examines the potential role conflicts that exist when a treating psychologist is certifying the need for an ESA. Finally, it makes recommendations to assist psychologists in staying within the standards of practice in order to avoid the ethical and legal risks associated with certifying an ESA. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

The authors present a nice discussion in this article about conflict between therapeutic and forensic roles. They also note how emotional support animals and service animals are not the same. They also suggest having accommodation requests like an emotional support animal handled by a neutral third party and not the treating psychologist. They also cautioned about the limited nature of the scientific literature on emotional support animals.

If you are dealing with emotional support animal requests the article is worth the read. For an alternative viewpoint you could always check out this website: Emotional Support Animal Center.

There are certainly grey areas; for example, would you have written a letter for your patient to have therapy ducks?

Thanks again,


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…and if you’re looking for a cute kids’ book and you’ve never seen this one check out Duck at the Door. It is pretty amusing.