Examining Emotional Support Animals and Role Conflicts in Professional Psychology

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Abstract

This article examines the role conflicts that psychologists may face in their practices related to the evaluation and certification of emotional support animals (ESAs). It reviews the legal differences between ESAs and service animals (SAs), outlines ethical guidelines and legal policies/regulations regarding the use of ESAs, and examines the potential role conflicts that exist when a treating psychologist is certifying the need for an ESA. Finally, it makes recommendations to assist psychologists in staying within the standards of practice in order to avoid the ethical and legal risks associated with certifying an ESA.

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