The Clinical Mental Health Counselor’s Guide to Addressing Client Requests for Emotional Support Animal Letters
United Airlines reported a 75% increase in emotional support animal (ESA) requests in just one year, and a licensed psychologist in Florida was recently brought to court and determined to have written an inadequate ESA letter. Mental health professionals have been increasingly asked to write ESA letters, yet polling data suggests that less than 10% of us have received formal training on how write them. If you’re feeling uncomfortable with these letters, this presentation is for you, as we’ll thoroughly cover the complex clinical, ethical, and legal nuances of addressing ESA letter requests.
1. Define emotional support animals (ESAs) and differentiate ESAs from service animals.
2. Describe the legal and ethical ramifications for recommending ESAs for clients.
3. List several recommended practices for addressing requests for ESA eligibility letters.
4. Review the National Board of Forensic Evaluators official emotional support animal letter checklist.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Aaron Norton is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with certifications in addictions, alcohol and drug counseling, rehabilitation counseling, clinical mental health counseling, trauma treatment, forensic mental health evaluation, and forensic behavioral analysis. He serves as Executive Director of the National Board of Forensic Evaluators, a national not-for-profit board officially endorsed by the American Mental Health Counselors Association that provides training, certification, and professional advocacy for licensed mental health professionals specializing in forensic mental health evaluation. He is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of South Florida's College of Behavioral and Community Sciences as well as a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at USF.
He serves as Southern Regional Director for the American Mental Health Counselors Association and President-Elect and Chair of Education, Training Standards, and Continuing Education for the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association. He also works at Integrity Counseling, a group private practice, providing therapy, forensic and clinical evaluation, and clinical supervision to mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist interns as a Qualified Supervisor. He has more than 15 years of experience in the counseling profession, specializing in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depressive disorders, and substance abuse treatment. He is recognized as a Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist in Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders by the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and he was awarded Mental Health Counselor of the Year by the American Mental Health Counselors Association and Counselor Educator of the Year by the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association in 2016. An experienced writer, presenter, and trainer, he has been published in Addiction Professional, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, Journal of Individual Psychology, and The Advocate Magazine, the official magazine of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.
Networking and Registration
Announcements and Introductions
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
PowerPoint slides, handouts, and supplemental materials on ESA letters (e.g., letter templates, sample letters, letter checklists, journal articles, professional magazine articles) from this presentation can be found at: https://app.box.com/v/ESA
Link for access to recording of 2-hour webinar on this topic (that goes into greater detail regarding the checklist): https://youtu.be/N0G3L46jpXE
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