As the generational context of higher education shifts, a rise of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and mental health concerns are present for students on college campuses. While previous studies have aimed to address the relevancy and controversy of ESAs in higher education as well as their effectiveness in supporting individuals, less research has explored underlying factors that contribute to the use of an ESA. The purpose of this study was to explore the parenting behaviors of parents/caregivers of students with ESAs in comparison to parents/caregivers of students without ESAs. An embedded mixed methods design was used. Participants completed the Parenting Behaviors Questionnaire (PBQ) assessment scale and an embedded qualitative question. Findings revealed differences in the PBQ subscales of responsiveness and explaining. Students with ESAs also disclosed higher incidents of unexpected life events and caregiver instability than their non-ESA counterparts. The data provides essential assessment and intervention information for college counseling centers.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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