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Laws, Ethics and Criteria for ESAs and Service Animals

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Online Self-Study
Downloadable e-book of course slides, a downloadable certificate of completion, and course video(s).


This course does not offer CE Credits. The same course is available for purchase and offers 1.5 CEs hour for behavioral health clinicians.  See "related products" below.

The lines between Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) and Service Animals are often blurred, and the legal and ethical considerations are complex. Yet, as the demand for ESAs grows, clinicians must be well-versed in this field to provide their clients with the best possible care and advocacy.

This training course goes beyond surface-level definitions to equip clinicians with a better understanding of the legal, ethical, and practical nuances involved in working with ESAs and service animals.

Under the guidance of esteemed experts in the field, including renowned animal-assisted therapist Dr. Christina Strayer, participants will delve into the fundamental definitions and distinctions between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals. They will explore the specific training and selection recommendations that ensure their optimal effectiveness, and gain insights into the latest Department of Transportation requirements, ensuring they're equipped to advise clients on travel and accommodation rights.

Participants will also gain an overview of the ethical and legal considerations that every mental health professional must weigh before writing an ESA letter. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions that prioritize the well-being of both your clients and the animals involved.

By the end of this training, participants will be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to accurately assess clients' needs and make informed recommendations regarding ESAs and service animals. They will be able to write effective ESA letters and effectively advocate for clients' rights, all while ensuring the well-being of both clients and animals. Whether you're a seasoned therapist or just starting your journey in animal-assisted therapy, this course will provide you with invaluable insights and practical tools to expand your expertise and elevate your practice.

Enroll today and unlock the transformative potential of ESAs and service animals for your clients and your practice.

This is a non-interactive, self-study course.

Instruction consists of 1.5 hours of video instruction and a course evaluation.

Course Availability

From the time of registration, you have six months to access the coursework.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this training, professionals will be able to do the following:

Learning Objectives:

  1. List the only two types of animals that can be a service animal. 
  2. Explain the current Department of Transportation travel requirements for Service and Emotional Support Animals.  
  3. Explain how to ethically write an ESA letter for mental health clients, when appropriate.


Dr. Christina Strayer, Ed.D, LCMHCS, LCAS-A, THTC, AAT-I, CYT-200

Dr. Christina works with a variety of animals in her private practice with clients.  She teaches an accredited AAT certification course and conducts AAT workshops for professionals annually.  She is a Pet Partners Evaluator. She is an advocate for rescue animals and lives with her rescue family in NC.
You can find Dr. Strayer here and here.

Mike Buonasorte

Mike has years of experience, helping hundreds of dog owners reach their goals and live happier lives with their dogs. Graduating at the top of his class from the prestigious Tom Rose School for Professional Dog Trainers, he studied under some of the best trainers in the industry, and learned through real-world experience, helping clients with a range of needs.

He continues to test and prove his skills by competing with his personal dogs in various dog sports, and continues to educate himself on the most up-to-date and effective methods, theories, and problem-solving techniques.

You can find Mike by clicking here.

CE Hours

This course does not offer CE credits, just great content.

The same course is available for purchase and offers 1.5 CE hours for behavioral health clinicians. See "related products" below.

Participants may request a printed version of their certificate of attendance to be delivered by mail. A shipping/handling fee of $6.95 will be charged per request. Shipping internationally may require an additional charge.

This is a non-interactive, self-study course.

How to Complete the Course and Earn Your Certificate

To receive your certificate of attendance you must complete the course in its entirety.

To complete a Training Video Course, one must register, log in, select the My Courses option from the menu items, click the Course Title, attend to the video content, and complete the course evaluation, then claim the certificate of attendance.

You can download or print your certificate of attendance by logging into your account, navigating to the course by selecting the My Courses option from the menu items, clicking the Course Title, scrolling to the Certificate of Attendance section, and clicking on the Certificate of Attendance link to either download it or print it.

Participants may request a printed version of their certificate of attendance to be delivered by mail. A shipping/handling fee of $6.95 will be charged per request. Shipping internationally may require an additional charge.

Directions for completing a course can be found by clicking here.

Course Policies

Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities

Click here to view our Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities.

Cancellation Policy

Refunds are offered within the first 30 days for courses which have not been completed.  There is a 10% service fee for refunds.

Grievance Policy

Click here to view our Grievance Policy.


Click here to communicate with a knowledgeable staff member regarding subject matter guidance, correction, grading, comments, or problem resolution.

Who Should Attend

This course is intended for clinicians who provide behavioral health services.

Teaching Methods

This is a non-interactive, self-study course. Teaching methods for this course include recorded lectures, videos, and a course evaluation.

This course was recorded 5/6/22

List of the comments:
1 of 1 find it helpful
2024-06-22 23:06
For therapist that needs training around ESA letters, do this!!! I needed some form of training and this was just what I needed. Thank you.
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