PRIOR TO TRAINING: Remember to bring your lunch and join us at Colleague Collaboration with David Swindall, LMFT, M. Div., from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm! Registration opens at 1:45 PM ~ Training runs from 2:00 - 5:00 PM (Break at 4:00 PM).

Interested in presenting at a SMHCA meeting?  Fill out this presenter submission form.

    • Friday, January 18, 2019
    • 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
    • Troy University, Tampa Campus, 5201 W Kennedy Blvd # 110, Tampa, FL 33609
    • 59

    Emotional Support Puppies, Peacocks, and Tarantulas: Oh, My!  A Counselor's Clinical, Ethical, and Legal Guide to Addressing Emotional Support Animal Letter Requests

    presented by Aaron Norton, LMHC

    3.0 CEUs in Professional Ethics and Boundary Issues 

    If you think you are seeing an increasing number of animals sporting “service dog,” “therapy dog,” or “emotional support animal” vests you are right.  Researchers from the University of California at Davis recently examined changes in the types of assistance dogs registered by animal control facilities in California between 2000 and 2002 and a decade later, from 2010 to 2012. They found that the number of animals used for psychiatric services and emotional support had increased ten-fold, much faster than medical or mobility-trained assistance dogs (here).

    Federal regulations governing the legal status of “emotional support animals” are particularly loose. Unlike a “service dog,” an emotional support animal can be a member of any species, does not have to be trained to do anything, and can be your personal pet. But if you want your peacock or poodle officially recognized as an emotional support animal you have to be under treatment for a mental disorder. And you must obtain a letter from a physician or licensed mental health professional certifying the animal is necessary for your mental health or treatment for your psychiatric condition

    Psychotherapists are increasingly being asked by their clients for letters that will allow their pets access to air travel and no-pets housing.  Many say these requests pose ethical issues for mental health professionals. Emotional support animals are supposed to be part of a treatment program and sometimes requests for emotional support animal letters poses a conflict of interest between therapist and patient.

    The Objectives for this training:

    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 ESA letter requests with sound clinical, ethical, and legal judgment. 
    4. Review (and take home with you) sample ESA letters and the official ESA letter checklist published by the National Board of Forensic Evaluators

    Training Fees

    Registered & Paid in Advance Guarantees Seat:

    $10 Member

    $25 Nonmember

    $0 Student

    (members need to be logged in to be able to register at the member rate)

    Not Registered / Walk-ins - Seat Not Guaranteed; Assigned First-Come:

    $15 Member 

    $30 Nonmember 

    $5 Student 

    Troy University, Tampa Campus, 5201 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 110, Tampa, FL 33609

Past events

Friday, November 16, 2018 Science of Happiness: Positive Psychology’s theory of wellbeing - PERMA
Friday, October 19, 2018 Unlocking The Power of Collaboration!
Friday, September 21, 2018 Military and Veteran Culture for Mental Health Professionals
Wednesday, August 01, 2018 AMHCA 2018 Conference with special SMHCA event!
Friday, June 15, 2018 Private Practice Symposium: Ethics in a Digital Age ~ SMHCA Going Green with electronic handout
Friday, June 15, 2018 2018-2019 Elections Results!
Friday, May 18, 2018 2018-2019 Board Elections Open May 18th!
Friday, May 18, 2018 Suicide Risk Factors and Prevention
Saturday, April 21, 2018 Qualified Supervisor and Agency Exhibitor Tables for Spring Symposium
Saturday, April 21, 2018 2018 SMHCA Annual Spring Symposium
Friday, April 20, 2018 The Art of Ethical and Effective Mediation
Friday, April 06, 2018 The Psychology of School Shooters
Friday, March 16, 2018 Using Exposure and Response Prevention for the Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Tuesday, March 06, 2018 Leadership Clock: Is Now Your Time to Lead?
Friday, February 16, 2018 Batterers' Intervention Program: A Process of Accountability for Batterer's
Friday, January 19, 2018 Treating Psychological Conditions with Cannabinoid Medications THC and CBD
Friday, November 17, 2017 Working with Complicated Grief
Friday, October 20, 2017 Confidentiality & Duty to Warn: Ethical and Legal Implications
Friday, September 22, 2017 Mental Health Treatment with Muslim Patients
Thursday, June 22, 2017 4-Day Externship in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples
Friday, June 16, 2017 Private Practice Symposium
Friday, May 19, 2017 Humor and Healing
Saturday, May 13, 2017 Qualified Supervisor and Agency Exhibitor Tables for 2017 Spring Symposium
Friday, May 12, 2017 SMHCA Board Calls for Nominations
Friday, April 21, 2017 Florida's Marchman Act
Friday, March 17, 2017 Mindfulness:Training for Wellbeing
Friday, February 17, 2017 Ethics Update: How to Chat, Post, Follow, Like...
Friday, January 20, 2017 Medication Errors

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Bradenton, FL 34211

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