CPTAS How it Works - CPTAS

How It Works


The CPS assessment and ESA letter process is a simple 3-step process, designed and approved by our network of licensed therapists to help you quickly qualify. CPS clients have access to their ESA or PSD letters in 24 hours.

Emotional support animal letter
  • Assessment & letter for housing
  • Verification Forms completed for 12 months.

Order an ESA letter!

Psychiatric service dog letter
  • Assessment & everything you need for housing, flying for free on airlines, and for your dog to accompany you everywhere you go.
  • Verification Forms completed for 12 months.

Order a PSD letter!

Take a Questionnaire
Take A Questionnaire

Complete a brief online questionnaire. This usually takes 10 – 15 minutes.

Licensed Therapist Review
Licensed Therapist Review

A CPS licensed therapist carefully reviews and determines your qualifications.

Receive Your Letter
Receive Your Letter

Your letters can be downloaded immediately. Printed copies are mailed.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a person’s pet that has been prescribed by a person’s licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist (any licensed mental health professional). The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.

What Animals Qualify to Be an Emotional Support Animal?

All types of domesticated pets can be Emotional Support Animals (cats, dog, birds, snakes, rabbits, mice, etc.) and they can be any age (young puppies and kittens, too!). Your pet does not need any specific training because their very presence mitigates the symptoms associated with a person’s psychological/emotional disability, unlike a working service dog. The only requirement is that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the home setting.

How to Qualify for an ESA

For a person to legally qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA), he/she must be considered emotionally disabled by a licensed mental health professional (therapist), as evidenced by a properly written prescription letter.

The letter should state that you:

  • Are currently his/her patient
  • Are under his/her care for the treatment of mental disability found in the DSM IV or V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5).
  • Have an emotional or psychological disability, such as anxiety, depression, certain phobias (and many more) that can be eased by the presence and comfort of a pet.
  • Have been prescribed an emotional support animal as a necessary treatment for your mental health.

In addition, the letter must be dated, written on his/her letterhead, include his/her license type, number, date of license, and state in which the license was issued.

What is a Psychiatric Service Animal?

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is a trained dog that has been prescribed by a licensed medical doctor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist (any licensed mental health professional). The dog is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.

What Animals Qualify to Be a Psychiatric Service Animal?

Only dogs may qualify a psychiatric service animal.

How to Qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog

For you to qualify for a psychiatric service dog (PSD), you must be considered have an emotional or psychiatric disability by a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.). In addition, your disability must warrant the need for a trained dog to assist you with a significant life task that you cannot or have trouble performing by yourself.

The letter should state that:

  • You are currently his/her patient
  • You are under his/her care for the treatment of mental disability found in the DSM IV or V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5).
  • You Have an emotional or psychiatric disability, such as anxiety, depression, certain phobias (and many more) that can be eased by the presence and comfort of a pet.
  • Your disability substantially limits your ability to perform at least one major life task and that you are prescribe a trained dog to assist you with that task.

Finally, the letter must be dated, written on his/her letterhead, include his/her license type, number, date of license, and state in which the license was issued.

See if you qualify – Take our instant assessment

How will my Property manager/Landlord be able to verify my ESA or PSD letter?

Although many property managers will simply accept your ESA letter, as is, others will require a verification form to be submitted to your therapist.

We recommend that you forward your landlord’s verification form to CPS, so we can make sure that it is processed correctly by your therapist. If your landlord wishes to send the verification directly to the therapist, they can do so via email.

No one with a disability can be denied their rights, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In other words, this federal law ensures that you may not be legally discriminated against when trying to qualify for housing.

Flying with your Animal

Although the Dept. of Transportation has allowed airline companies the discretion to treat emotional support animals as pets (no rights whatsoever), psychiatric service dogs must be allowed to accompany their handlers in the cabin of an aircraft and cannot be charged a fee.

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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — the ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities.

Service dogs play an essential role in the lives of many individuals with disabilities. Federal law grants certain rights and protections to people with disabilities who use guide dogs or service dogs.

Access to Public Places and the ADA

Different laws govern the use of service animals in different contexts. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs the use of service dogs in public places.

The ADA guarantees people with disabilities who use service dogs equal access to public places such as restaurants, hospitals, hotels, theaters, shops, and government buildings. This means that these places must allow service dogs, and the ADA requires them to modify their practices to accommodate the dogs, if necessary.

However, these protections only apply to dogs that satisfy the ADA’s definition of “service animal.” The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that is “individually trained” to “perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” The tasks a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

A monkey or a cat cannot be considered a service animal under the ADA; the ADA limits the definition of service animals to dogs.

The best-known example of service dogs are guide dogs that help blind people navigate safely around obstacles. Service dogs can also be trained to assist deaf individuals, wheelchair-users and other people with mobility impairments, as well as people who have psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disabilities.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

“Psychiatric service dogs” are service dogs that aid to people with psychiatric disabilities, such as severe depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Examples of work or tasks that psychiatric service dogs perform include:

  • Providing safety checks or room searches for individuals with PTSD
  • Blocking persons in dissociative episodes from wandering into danger (for example, traffic), and
  • Preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation.

Emotional Support Animals

Many individuals—both with and without disabilities—derive emotional support and comfort from dogs and other animals that are not specially trained to perform specific tasks causally related to a psychiatric disability.

The ADA considers such animals, including any domesticated pet, as ESAs are considered to be distinct from psychiatric service dogs. The law treats them differently, too. The ADA does not grant emotional support animal owners the same right of access to public places that it gives to individuals who use psychiatric service dogs. That means that under the ADA, a movie theater, for example, must allow psychiatric service dogs to accompany their owners into the movie auditorium, but can refuse to admit individuals with emotional support animals.

The Difference Between a Psychiatric Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog

It is not always clear—to staff at public places, and even to some people with disabilities—whether an animal accompanying an individual with a psychiatric disability or impairment is performing a psychiatric service or “merely” providing emotional support. Confusion may result in unlawful and discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities.

The key distinction to remember is that a psychiatric service dog is actually trained to perform certain tasks that are directly related to an individual’s psychiatric disability. The dog’s primary role is not to provide emotional support. It is to assist the owner with the accomplishment of vital tasks they otherwise would not be able to perform independently. In addition, a psychiatric service dog must not only respond to an owner’s need for help, must also be trained to recognize the need for help in the first place. A dog must be able to respond and recognize to be considered a service dog.

By contrast, an emotional support animal is usually just a pet that is not trained to perform specific tasks related to an individual’s psychiatric disability. Instead, the pet’s owner simply derives a sense of comfort, well-being, safety, or calm from the dog’s companionship and physical presence.

The animal companionship of an emotional support dog can have genuine therapeutic benefits for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and less severe mental impairments. But unless the dog is also trained to perform a task to mitigate a psychiatric or emotional symptom, the dog does not qualify as a psychiatric service dog and does not receive the protections of the ADA.

For example, people with social phobia might only feel safe enough to leave their home for food or medication if their dog accompanies them. Such a dog would be considered an emotional support animal.

If, however, the same person is prone to dissociative episodes when they leave home, and their dog is trained to recognize and respond to the onset of such an episode by nudging, barking, or removing the individual to a safe location, then the dog would be considered a psychiatric service dog.

Different State Laws

Some states have laws that provide broader protection than the ADA. For example, while the ADA only applies to qualified individuals with a disability, Rhode Island’s law extends those protections to cover trainers of personal assistance animals as well.

On the other hand, several states have disability discrimination laws that, unlike federal laws, exclude psychiatric service dogs from protection. This does not mean that the ADA does not apply in those states. It means that psychiatric service dog owners simply do not have additional rights under state laws in these locales. As long as federal law applies, the ADA trumps or “preempts” the more restrictive state law.

Federal Laws Granting the Right to Be Accompanied by an Emotional Support Animal

While the ADA governs the use of emotional support animals in public places, two other federal laws, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and Fair Housing Act (FHAct), govern the use of emotional service animals in housing or on commercial aircraft.


Under the Fair Housing Act, an individual with a disability may be entitled to keep an emotional support animal in housing facilities that otherwise do not allow pets. An emotional support animal—which can include animals other than dogs—must be permitted as a reasonable accommodation when an individual requires the animal in order to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the housing. The assistance the animal provides must relate to the individual’s disability.


The federal Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) requires commercial airlines to permit service animals to accompany passengers with a disability on flights. As of January 10, 2021, a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule amended the requirements for traveling with service animals and emotional support animals. The rule requires airlines to treat trained psychiatric service dogs the same as other service dogs. At the same time, however, the rule allows airlines to impose additional restrictions on service animals, including limiting them to dogs and requiring people with disabilities to submit forms attesting to the dogs’ training, good behavior, and health.

Under the DOT rule, airlines may also treat emotional support animals like pets rather than service animals. This means that people who want to bring their emotional support animals onboard may have to pay the extra fees and meet all of the restrictions on flying with pets.