Emotional support animals really do emotionally support us

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals need no formal training or certification. Yet they are still formally recognized by healthcare professionals as therapeutically necessary for people with certain conditions, like anxiety, depresion, or addiction, that qualify as disabilities under the Fair Housing Act.

“This study shows there is a place for emotional support animals in terms of them being partners in our health and well-being,” says Janet Hoy-Gerlach, PhD, LISW-S, a professor of social work at the University of Toledo and lead investigator of the study. 

“I would get a lot of ‘I couldn’t do that to my kids’ or ‘It’s against my faith.’” says Hoy-Gerlach. “But I also regularly got responses along the lines of, ‘I don’t want to leave my pet behind.’” 

As an animal lover herself, those responses intuitively made sense. But as a mental health professional, she realized none of her training or education ever mentioned animals as a means of protecting and preserving human health. 

Emotional support animals really do work | Popular Science (popsci.com)