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 National Board of  Forensic Evaluators

2021 Update: The Mental Health Professional's Role in Evaluating the Need for Emotional Support Animals (3 CEs • CE Broker Tracking # 20-899083 • ACEP No.6189)

  • 12 Apr 2022
  • 03 Oct 2050
  • Online On-Demand


  • Select this option if you are a member of the National Board of Forensic Evaluators (i.e., CFMHE, applicant, or candidate) or you are a member of an organization that partners with NBFE (see www.nbfe.net/partners for full list)
  • Select this option if you not a member of NBFE nor any partnering organization


This is an on-demand course/training.

In 2018, the National Board of Forensic Evaluators (NBFE) provided a comprehensive overview of legal, ethical, and clinical considerations for addressing client requests for emotional support animal (ESA) letters, including a checklist that mental health professionals could use to ensure due diligence and to protect themselves from liability when writing such letters.  

However, in 2021, significant changes in federal and state law have created the need for an update.  If you're still following old guidelines, you're going to really want to attend this event!

Attendees will be given access to a PDF handout version of PowerPoint slides for this program with hyperlinks to references, an updated checklist that can be used to facilitate assessment of the need for emotional support animals, and revised and updated sample letters and templates.

Get answers to important questions about ESA letters requests, such as:

  • How does federal law protect ESAs?
  • What does the law say must be provided to document the need for an ESA?
  • When it an ESA letter appropriate or inappropriate?
  • What sources of data does a mental health professional use when assessing the appropriateness of an ESA letter?
  • What should a letter include?
  • What liability does a healthcare professional accept when writing a letter, and how can a professional protect themselves from liability?
  • What happens when a healthcare practitioner is court-ordered to testify in court about an ESA letter?

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define emotional support animals (ESAs) and differentiate ESAs from service animals, therapy animals, and pets. 
  2. Describe the legal and ethical ramifications for recommending ESAs for clients with emphasis on recent changes in federal law.
  3. Differentiate between potentially harmful or problematic uses of ESA letters and therapeutic and clinically-relevant uses of ESA letters.
  4. List several recommended practices, tools, and resources for addressing requests for ESA eligibility letters. 


  • $40 for NBFE members (i.e., CFMHEs and CFMHE applicants/candidates) and, for members of  our partnering organizations (see Professional Partners for current listing)
  • $50 for non-members

About the Presenter


Dr. Norton is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving as Executive Director of the National Board of Forensic Evaluators, Adjunct Instructor at the University of South Florida, Southern Regional Director for the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and President of the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association.

He has nearly 20 years of clinical and forensic experience at Integrity Counseling, Inc., was awarded Mental Health Counselor of the Year by the American Mental Health Counselors Association and Counselor Educator of the Year by the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association in 2016, Researcher of the Year by Florida Mental Health Counselors Association in 2020, and he was the recipient of the American Mental Health Counselors Association's Public and Community Service Award in 2020.  He has been published in several social science academic journals and professional magazines in clinical mental health counseling.

Continuing Education Information 


This webinar has been approved for 2.0 general contact hours, and 1.0 Ethics and Boundaries hours with the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, & Mental Health Counseling, CE Broker Tracking # 20-899083 (CE Broker Provider #50-15823).


The National Board of Forensic Evaluators (NBFE) has been approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6189.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.  NBFE is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. 

NBFE is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  NBFE maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

NBFE is recognized and endorsed by the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

 Click here for NBFE Cancellation/Refund Policy. 

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