Fighting Stigmas, Enforcing Changes, Passing Classes

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Animal Assisted Therapy

This one requires a particular type of person.  Animals also change brain chemistry and any animal lover can tell you that petting their new puppy instantly makes them feel better.  However, of all of the treatment options listed on this site this is probably the most difficult for college students to pursue. There are three ways to integrate animal assisted therapy into your treatment plan, each with their own pros and cons.

1. A therapy animal. These are owned by individuals or churches or therapy practices, etc. They help a host of people. You meet with this animal for short periods of time to pet it and play with it. This is not a dog you get to take home and you don't have any of the responsibility. But you also don't get to pet it at 2 am when you can't sleep. Most colleges do not have therapy animals that visit frequently so for access to one you might have to seek out a therapist that practices animal assisted therapy.

2. Emotional Support Animal.  An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) provides...wait for it ....emotional support! It is yours to keep and love forever and ever. They can ride in the cabin on airplanes and live in no pet housing. They require no special training. You need a letter from a health care professional and have to produce it when requested by airlines or landlords. This means disclosing your illness to people.

ESAs in dorms are a very complicated issue at the moment. Most colleges do not allow them. However, there have been a couple of high profile legal cases where college students argued that it was discriminatory to not allow them to have a treatment for their mental disability. Time will tell how this debate ends.

3. A service dog. PSD or psychiatric service dog differs from an ESA in that a service dog is task trained. It does things for you. This can be alerting you to oncoming episodes or reminding you to take meds. Like all service dogs, psychiatric service dogs have public access rights. This sounds awesome at first, but it does require that you identify yourself as disabled to the world.

For more information about psychiatric service dogs see

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”

       Charles M. Schulz