In the recently decided case of Jaffee v. Redmond, the United States Supreme Court acknowledged the existence of a psychotherapist-patient privilege under Federal Rule of Evidence 501 for the first time. This Article will make recommendations to lower federal courts that must construe the meaning of "psychotherapist." Part II will provide an overview of federal psychotherapist-patient privilege law prior to Jaffee. Part III will discuss the Court's decision to expand the definition of "psychotherapist" based upon the increased demand for therapy among lower income Americans. Part IV will make three arguments explaining why lower federal courts are free to extend the psychotherapist-patient privilege to mental health professionals who perform similar functions as those performed by psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed social workers. Part V will suggest a reasonable approach for defining "psychotherapist" so that lower courts can strike a proper balance in accordance with Federal Rule of Evidence 501.


1997 John M. Manos Writing Competition on Evidence