First, some definitions:   An Emotional Support animal is a type of assistance animal that alleviates a symptom or effect of a disability.  An Emotional Support Animal is more than a pet, and is generally not restricted by species.

After participating in a full Psychological Evaluation with me, I might write you an ESA letter, as part of my detailed treatment recommendations for you.  This letter should be honored by landlords who otherwise have a “no pet” policy; in other words, having an ESA letter means that your animal may live with you to help provide you with emotional support. Please note that participating in a psychological evaluation with me does not guarantee you an ESA letter, even if that is your hope.  This is because I can only legally, and ethically, provide such a letter if the evaluation results support this recommendation.

The ESA letters I write are for housing only.  While, in general, ESA letters might also allow you to travel with your animal, this is only true if you have ensured that your animal is well-behaved, in good health, and up to date with vaccinations.  Traveling with an ESA requires additional documentation that I typically will not complete (see American Airlines for an example), may only apply to dogs or cats, and requires that you are currently participating in ongoing mental health services.  The guidelines differ for each airline, and there may be additional requirements for longer flights.  Therefore, I cannot guarantee that my letters will afford you the ability to take your animal with you on a flight.

An Emotional Support Animal is NOT a service animal.  This means that my evaluations do not evaluate your animal, and my letters do not comment on how well trained your animal is.  My letter will not help you if you want to take your animal into public spaces; and, again, the primary purpose of my ESA letters are for housing only(Service animals, on the other hand, go through a specific training process and are allowed to accompany their person into public establishments.)

There are a lot of websites that charge a lot of money for ESA letters, and some of these are scams.  It is best to see a professional Licensed Clinical Psychologist like Dr. Emily, who will meet with you face-to-face, do a thorough assessment, and, when appropriate, provide you with a valid letter.  In addition, my evaluations provide you with many helpful recommendations and resources, and the report you receive is far more comprehensive and useful than what an online service will provide.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about ESA letters.

Now, for the fun part.  I absolutely love animals, as you might have noticed if you checked out our Animal Therapy Corner.

I know from personal experience how gifted animals are.  Just like humans, they have unique strengths and special abilities.  They look forward to sharing their gifts with us, and they can be amazingly loving, comical, spiritual, and HEALING.  Also like us, animals who are abused or neglected do not fully embrace their gifts until they feel safe, secure, and loved.  Animals who have anxiety have a lot of fears; fears that they will be harmed again.  They might tense up because they are living “on guard” ready for the worst.  How heartbreaking this is, my friend.  But as every parent of a rescue animal can attest to, those animals who were once mistreated or abandoned never take your love for granted.  You can see appreciation in their eyes, and they clearly have gratitude in their hearts.  They cherish every moment, and they understand love on a deeper level.  Their experience of (and willingness to open up to) love leads them to be incredibly loving. I hope every one of us feels all the love life has to offer.  Animals who are loved give so much love back to us, that it sometimes catches us off guard.  There are some people who don’t really believe that animals love us back; it is hard for them to open themselves up to their own vulnerability.  Many of us have had the experience of  coming to recognize that animals indeed are like us in that they feel emotional pain just like they feel physical pain, and there are real lasting effects when they are mistreated and ignored.  Recognizing this, in turn, we must accept that we who want fulfilled lives also have to sometime face our fears and be willing to open up to love.

When I walked into the shelter, I knelt down so the kitties in the room would not feel threatened.  I heard Annie’s loud purr before I ever saw her.  Then she climbed into my lap and up on my shoulder, and flopped onto her back, purring the entire time.  How could I say no?  Seven years later, we are more inseparable than ever.  Annie was little-when she first came home.  Then she quickly became Queen of the wild frontier, and a long cool woman in a black dress.  Always dressed up in her tuxedo that never quite buckles all the way in front, her fur developed a glorious shine.  It turns out that she was not supposed to be that little.  She had been malnourished somehow before she chose me in that shelter.  The purr baby is now a very long, sleek, and agile Annie.  My Ms. Annie Grace Oakley is incredibly intelligent, strong, funny, prim and proper, and extraordinarily affectionate.  She has the ability and deep desire to cure my headaches, stomachaches, and muscle tension. Once when I had a bad stomachache, Annie walked into the room with a purposeful stride while intently staring at me.  She jumped into my lap, pushed my arm away from my stomach, and began purring and kneading on various pressure points on my arms and legs.  I had immediate relief!  I rocked her purring body to sleep after that.  She has applied this kind of Annie-puncture on my forehead and cured many headaches.  She opens drawers and cabinets including one particular drawer at feeding time.  She sits in my lap while I read, turns the pages, and then looks back up at me with an amused facial expression.  Annie comes running to me at laundry time when I kneel to sort the clothes.  She sits in my lap and “helps” me with the task almost every single time.  She runs to greet me at the door when I come home, follows me around talking, and purrs loudly when I pick her up and carry her around.  As you can tell, Annie is absolutely beautiful inside and out.


We give a lot to our animals, and we do so unconditionally.  However, there is something truly beautiful about how they so often give back to us in remarkable ways.  Enjoy some of these amazing examples:

Science Shows Cats Reduce Heart Attack Risk

What is a psychological evaluation?

  • A psychological evaluation is the collection and integration of information on an individual’s functioning, to inform treatment planning. It includes evidence-based assessment measures (interviews, questionnaires, and tests) that are carefully chosen to answer your specific questions and concerns.  It is a therapeutic intervention in that it provides in-depth data that helps you and your treatment team, because you deserve the most efficient, effective, and compassionate care.
  • During a psychological evaluation, you will meet with Dr. Emily Crawford-Thompson, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, to discuss areas of your life that are puzzling or troubling to you.
  • Dr. Emily will ask you questions about you and your concerns and ask you to complete tasks and questionnaires designed to help you, and help your treatment providers provide you with the best care.
  • A psychological evaluation allows for more accurate diagnosis and treatment, which saves on overall costs for mental health services.