Psychotherapist Patient Privilege Law and Legal Definition

Psychotherapist patient privilege is a privilege whereby a person can prevent the disclosure of a confidential communication made in the course of diagnosis or treatment of a mental or emotional condition by or at the direction of a psychotherapist.

A psychotherapist privilege covers confidential communications made to licensed psychiatrists and psychologists. The requirements of this privilege are: (1) the communications must be confidential, (2) the therapist must be a licensed psychotherapist, and (3) the communications must occur in the course of diagnosis or treatment. [Jaffee v. Redmond, 518 U.S. 1, 15 (U.S. 1996)]

Almost all the states in U.S have specific laws on psychotherapist patient privilege. The state laws vary with regard to the types of therapy relationships protected and the exceptions recognize. A small number of state statutes, for example, grant the privilege only to psychiatrists and psychologists, while most apply the protection more broadly. The privilege can be overcome under certain conditions, as when the examination is ordered by a court.

Psychotherapist patient privilege is also referred to as psychotherapist–client privilege.