Here’s the bad news – everything you’ve learned to date about Michigan emotional support animal letters is likely wrong.
Also, the ability to buy a “cheapie ESA letter online that works”, works being the operative word here, is quickly coming to an end. And, if you’re not engaged in an ongoing therapeutic relationship with your clinician, there’s a fast-increasing chance your housing provider will deny your reasonable accommodation request.
On the plus side, continuing reading and we’ll help you navigate the churning and chummy waters of today’s Michigan emotional support animal letters.
Let’s get started, shall we?
With a vast plethora of Internet-based businesses selling quick fixes, fraudulent ID cards, meaningless registrations, and get-out-of-fees letters, landlords and airlines are closely scrutinizing emotional support animal letters of recommendation.
Breaking out a fine-tooth comb, phrases such as “therapeutic relationship,” “under the treatment and care,” and “in the position to know” have become part of our daily conversation around the office.
You see, anyone with a printer can “create an ESA letter.” And trust me, many fraudulent websites do just that — they’ve long mastered the basic idea of an emotional support letter (therapist name & license, something (snicker) about the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, maybe the animal’s weight, so forth and so on). And, as long as the letter’s on the therapist’s letterhead, you’re golden, right?
Sorry to say, but no thanks to peacocks on airplanes and instant pet certificates, a perfectly executed emotional support animal letter isn’t the Wonka Golden Ticket anymore.
Let alone those $79 jobs… Yeah, good luck with those.
As mentioned, it’s about the ongoing client/therapist relationship, and to build out a nationwide network of clinicians capable of engaging in therapeutic care takes lots of work — lots of elbow grease, a few keyboards worn out, tons of talent, and an excellent infrastructure — and we know, since we’ve built the nation’s largest ESA clinical network.
And we’re starting to develop a Canadian-based ESA clinical network.
Not surprisingly, this feat of ours is something all other websites have studiously avoided, as they’re just geared to perform assessments only, often with zero contact between client and therapist.
An emotional support animal assessment by itself does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. What is missing from this equation is “ongoing therapeutic sessions.” In those sessions, you’ll discuss your “disability and disability-related need for an assistance animal,” and begin to establish a relationship with your therapist with a continuity of care.
We believe prescribing Michigan ESA letters without any interaction is, at best, wickedly unethical. Just ask Carla Black, a California-licensed therapist recently blasted by her State Board.
As we move further into 2018, we expect reasonable accommodation requests submitted with ESA letters without a therapeutic basis to be routinely denied. Simply stated — if you buy an ESA letter without additional therapeutic sessions, you’re rolling the dice.
Simply put, your “cost-effective” ESA letter will likely meet the round file.
Pro-tip: If your housing provider requires verification, then you should strongly consider purchasing therapeutic care. If you’re unsure at the time of purchase, or your landlord springs it on you “after the fact,” then you can order these sessions at that time.
So, what makes a relationship?
When shopping around, ask these questions:
- How close is my therapist?
- How many times will we interact?
- Will we actually speak via phone/video call?
- Do they offer therapeutic sessions?
Locality (“geographically desirable”), interaction, the total number of sessions, and calendar of events form the basis of a therapeutic relationship.
Now, some of you are shouting at the screen, something about the legality of practicing telemedicine inside the four borders of any given state.
True, I don’t argue that …
However, thanks to the Internet’s nonsense (i.e., Carla Black), when it comes to reasonable accommodation requests based on ESA letters, there’s a new sheriff in town.
We understand HUD likes to apply a “reasonableness standard.” Does the therapeutic relationship make sense? Is it logical? For example, why would a Buffalo, NY therapist be writing an ESA letter of recommendation for a Long Island client? Or a Hawaii radiologist writing letters for Chicago clients (no really, that’s a thing).
Pro-tip: Avoid websites selling “ESA products.” If they’re peddling leashes, they’re probably peddling junk all across the board.
So, what’s our role?
ESAD helps cultivate therapeutic relationships. We introduce the client to the therapist. We’re not in the ESA letter-writing business, per se. To us, that’s a byproduct.
Wired to help those in need, we’re here to help those most in need, guided by the highest standards of ethical and professional responsibility (click here, here, here, here, here, and here).
Our purpose is to help more people live a happier and better life.
Compliance With Applicable Fair Housing Premiums
You see, the problem begins when a client has a disability that’s not obvious. Cousin Johnny’s home from Iraq and is missing a limb — that’s an easy one to spot.
Aunt Sue’s problem with severe anxiety that ruins her ability to sleep? Not so easy.
Lending assistance, the federal government allows a housing provider to seek information confirming: a) that a person meets the FHA’s definition of disability; b) a description of the requested accommodation; c) the relationship (or link) between the person’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation.
Thankfully, HIPAA privacy guidelines prevent housing providers from seeking any medical records and detailed information about any medical treatment and condition.
The Wild Wild West Dot Com
These days, access to the Internet and a credit card will likely qualify you for an assistance animal that’s verified with zero healthcare evaluation and no relationship with the therapist.
Allow me to repeat that, as it bears repeating. The majority of online ESA vendors will approve individuals for an emotional support animal relying solely on a self-reported assessment.
No meeting, speaking or reviewing medical history. No diagnosis, evaluation, visit, or treatment. Take a cheesy 5-minute assessment, drop down your VISA, and you’re all set!
Therapy goats, support peacocks, heck, we even had our 11-ton elephant (aka Muffin Top) approved.
Like Service Dog fraud, we staunchly believe these false certifications do a horrible disservice to the genuinely disabled — it’s a black eye to individuals with a legitimate need for service and emotional support animals.
Appropriate Medical Provider
As permitted under federal law — DOJ’s guidance in its Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals — housing providers can request additional information regarding the therapeutic relationship.
Pay close attention, here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Nowadays, landlords are asking these questions: 1. How many times did a resident/potential resident meet with the therapist 2. Where did they meet 3. When did the meet
In Virginia, the Fair Housing Board notes, “housing providers are absolutely within their rights to focus first on establishing the legitimacy of the requesting party’s disability status,” and allows housing providers to inquire about the following: • The general location and duration of care; • Whether the verifier is accountable for acts of misconduct; • Whether the verifier has specialty training; • Whether the verifier is recognized by consumers, peers, or the public as a credible provider of therapeutic care.
What All This Means For You
Go ahead, google “Michigan emotional support animal letter,” and review the first page of search results. Chances are you’re going to run into trouble with nearly all of those vendors.
Pro-tip: We know of an ESA website that’s operated by a convicted child molester.
They’re probably going to sell you an ESA letter based on a non-existent relationship. If you’re wicked lucky, you’ll have a therapist who practices within your state. You’ll save time as your therapist won’t even bother to call, won’t reach out to you, they will merely assess your “needs” based on that cheesy exam you completed.
By the way, about that exam, you know — the one you might have poured your heart into answering … maybe chronicled some deep secrets you’d like to keep, well, secret — remember that?
- Are they complying with federal HIPPA regulations? Are they guarding your information against hacking? Are they even secure?
- Do they look like someone you’d trust with your darkest secrets?
- Do you know who now owns your protected health information? Any ideas? Are they even located in the US?
If it’s starting to have an “ah ha” moment, or worse, now’s the time to wonder how your protected health information was stored, saved, and accessed.
Imagine it appearing on the Dark Web for sale.
That is not how we do business at ESADoggy.
We connect individuals struggling with the challenges of life with licensed mental health professionals. All across North America, people rely upon our service to help them qualify for legitimate emotional support animal letters.
We have therapists in every state. Over 300 therapists and counting, with plans to add another 500 by year’s end.
Our network of licensed mental health care professionals have all received training on fair housing and assistance animal law, accommodation verification documentation, and best practices for conducting a disability assessment for the disability-related need for an emotional support animal.
Our therapists offer personal, face-to-face interactions and meetings.
We’ll connect you with a therapist who is literally within “arm’s reach.”
We’ll rigorously safeguard your protected health and credit card information using the best technology available.