Getting Hired On with ESAD

Joining the ESAD Referral Network

About four or five times a year, we launch a global recruitment effort, seeking to expand the ranks of our clinical referral network, and as is usually the case, the results are overwhelming.

Our most recent campaign (August 2019) flooded our office with phone calls, emails, live chat requests, resumes, hopes, and dreams.

The response is flattering, inspiring, and terrifying to stare at reams of resumes that flooded our site – an extraordinarily time-consuming endeavor.

Most of the work falls on already overburdened shoulders that are client- and sale-focused. But, recognizing the importance of bringing new clinicians into the fold, we tighten our chin straps and head into the game.

Sample job listing.

We’ve learned a lot about recruiting over the past few years, and it shows in our job listings, recruitment process, and clinician-onboarding.

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What used to be a very hands-on task is now highly automated. In particular, our internally-available training contains one-of-a-kind knowledge and information, gleaned from tens of thousands of hours of work and thousands of interviews and conversations — all condensed, published, and made available to our team members.

Free of charge.

There are only so many hours in the day.

Experience has shown clinicians calling to inquire about our listing require about 25 minutes per call. Now, imagine a long line of clinicians queued up to speak with us.

That is a lot of hand holding, and it is just not possible, given our staffing levels and focus.

So, the emphasis is correctly placed (we opine) around the client — confidentiality, ethics, data privacy, and case management.

Fly + ointment.

There’s one fly in the ointment that routinely returns to nip us in the bud.

When we post jobs on our site, websites like Indeed, ZIP Recruiter, Glassdoor, and myriad others scrape our data and post our jobs (usually within a few hours)

And that’s by design (both ours and theirs)..

However, when we pull down our listings, those same third-party sites aren’t updating their listings with quite the same gusto.

So, visitors clicking an “old” ESAD job listing on Indeed will end up on our site with a 404 error (page not found).

That is also by design — it’s how the Internet works. That isn’t, however, always appreciated by clinicians looking for a new employment venture.

Yelling at complete strangers.

And boy, do we get an earful.

Pro-tip: Why would you yell at your potential business partner?

Honestly, we have no control over Indeed’s operation, nor are we responsible for broken or bad links found on ZIP Recruiter’s website.

And well, that explanation is also sometimes not well received.

So, for that, we apologize. We truly do. However, there’s nothing at all we can do about it.

The ESA business is changing as we speak.

Changes to federal law and updated industry guidelines (APA, ACA, etc.) are being developed / rolled out as we speak.

Clinicians joining our referral network must provide documentation showing completion of specialized training and previous work-experience with human-animal bond counseling.

What training options are available?

We’ve compiled a list of available training options worth your consideration.

We will happily note that we’re in the process of developing/launching ESASmart — which will address these very issues.

ESAD will not compensate a clinician for any training costs.

Our upcoming case management model will also change.

Based on Jeffrey N. Younggren, Cassandra L. Boness, Leisl M. Bryant, and Gerald P. Koocher‘s “Professional Psychology: Research and Practice Emotional Support Animal Assessments: Toward a Standard and Comprehensive Model for Mental Health Professionals,” the following guidelines will be used to conduct emotional support animal assessments:

  • The mental health professional must be able to understand, recognize, and apply the laws that regulate emotional support animals. ESAD offers a wealth of experience and online-training in this area.
  • The mental health professional should conduct a thorough assessment of the individual requesting an emotional support animal certification in order to establish a disability and disability-related need. Clients are assessed using fully HIPAA-compliant WHODAS 2.0 and a 80+ question biopsychosocial exams.
  • A necessary component of the comprehensive disability assessment includes an evaluation of malingering. Clients will complete the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology (SIMS).
  • The mental health professional should consider if the animal in question is capable of performing the functions of an emotional support animal.
  • When necessary, the mental health professional should seek collateral information regarding the capability of the animal in question to serve as an emotional support animal.
  • The mental health professional should assess the interaction of the client with the animal to determine whether the animal’s presence has a demonstrably beneficial effect on the patient.

What does that mean for our clinical team.

As to the ACA’s certification above, that would apply (we’d presume) to those clinicians who are required to follow those standards.  APA’s guidelines for other types of professionals, etc.

At ESAD, we have all levels of clinicians in our network (LCSW, LPC, PsyD, etc.), so our “requirements” include having an individual therapist comply with their Board’s ethics.  We don’t apply another “standard” on top of say the APA’s.  In fact, far be it for us to even remotely suggest we’d “know better.”

Rather, we see how this industry is tightening up … long overdue in fact.  We’re just trying to get ahead of the curve.

Where do we go from here?

We’re definitely at the “work in progress” stage … as the Federal laws (travel, housing) are yet to be made available and the ethics of the ACA/APA/etc. are now being published.  So, it’s a bit of a “soft opening” … using the parlance of the restaurant business.

Additionally, we’re likely to be modifying our existing offerings … moving away from a telephone-based assessment to video sessions (which should, we’d presume, allow for a clinician to assess a client w/without the animal).  Again, all in the “thinking stage” at this time, but it’s definitely starting to get rolling.

Lastly, we’ve based much of our forward thinking on a recent UCSD reasonable accommodation request form sent to us by a client.  As you can see, the university is keenly interested in the care and treatment of the student.  This form is “cutting edge” to us, as we see ‘em all the time.  And we’re guessing this is how it will go.

UCSD Reasonable Accommodation Request form.

UCSD has a very stringent process for documenting the need for an assistance animal!

There are two pieces to address:

1. Assessment – an explanation of how the functional limitation was determined (that’s where our SIMS, WHODAS-2, and biopsychosocial will come into play).

2. Ongoing therapeutic relationship. Here, a history of past and future sessions should demonstrate on-going care – thus, eliminating “assessment-only” issued letters.

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* we note, here in August 2019, all of the above is mostly up in the air and subject to change.